Friday, January 02, 2015

Tail Red is all right with representing Southern Oregon!?

PASADENA, Calif. – We may never know the full extent of what we missed all these years. How many rightful national champions of college football’s highest level never even had a chance to play for the title? It took one day of the College Football Playoff to reinforce how fickle, how faux-certain, the Bowl Championship Series was for its entire existence.
If the BCS still existed, Alabama and Florida State would have finished No. 1 and No. 2 and played for the national championship. Oregon and Ohio State would have played one another in a consolation game, muttering about the unfairness of a system that rewards pedigree over performance. The undefeated defending champs and the Southeastern Conference champion would have been the pairing. The two best teams in the country would have played in the Rose Bowl and wondered.
The best part about the new kind of national championship game may be the lack of ambivalence when Ohio State and Oregon meet on Jan. 12. We know they are the two best teams, because we just saw them prove it on New Year’s Day (Okay, okay. Objection sustained, TCU). They did not make it to AT&T Stadium because of perception and guesswork. They made it because they earned it.
In Oregon’s locker room after their 59-20 trouncing of Florida State, as players danced and sang along to hip-hop, the Sugar Bowl played on televisions in the corners of the room. Some players stole glances. Others preferred to embrace the moment.
“I’m just going to enjoy this,” Oregon center Hronnis Grasu said with a chuckle. “I’ll watch plenty of film tomorrow.”
A victory would mean different things to each team. Ohio State could further reclaim pride for both itself and its maligned conference. In 2006 and ’07, the Buckeyes made the title in consecutive seasons and lost to Florida (which Meyer coached) and LSU by a combined 41 points, the tipping point in college football’s prevailing narrative: No conference was equipped to compete with the SEC, least of all the slow-footed Big Ten.He will watch the stunning manner in which Ohio State toppled Alabama. The Buckeyes blitzed Alabama for 28 consecutive points, moved ahead by two touchdowns with less than four minutes to play and then held on for dear life. Cardale Jones proved Ohio State has enough quarterbacks to loan them out, like a Rent-A-Center. Urban Meyer outmaneuvered Nick Saban, again asserting himself as perhaps the best coach in America. The Buckeyes looked every bit as big and athletic as the champion from the mighty SEC.
In the intervening years, Ohio State landed on probation, lost Coach Jim Tressel and went 6-7 under interim coach Luke Fickell. Meyer took over in 2012, when Ohio State remained on probation. The Buckeyes have gone 37-3 in three years since.
Oregon can culminate its ascension to the sport’s highest tier, the rise that began under Mike Bellotti, soared under Chip Kelly and has continued under Mark Helfrich. Oregon has won 60 games in the past five years, more than any school in the country. The Ducks have won the Pacific-12 four times since 2009. They won the Rose Bowl in 2012. They played for the national championship in 2011 and led until the final snap, Auburn’s game-winning field goal. They have done it all except win it all.
Oregon is a powerhouse, a trend-setter in every way, but one victory will move it to a different echelon.
“I think it will,” said Oregon running backs coach Gary Campbell, who has been in the program for 32 years. “We came up short. The last three seconds of the game, one play, and we’re in it then. If we can go on win one more now, it will change things tremendously for us.”
Oregon will become the first team to win a Rose Bowl and then play again, the same dynamic Ohio State has with the Sugar Bowl. The Ducks could celebrate, but they had to temper their excitement with an eye on AT&T Stadium. They also had another worry – Oregon linebacker Torrodney Prevot pointed out that classes resume Monday.
“When we won the last Rose Bowl, it was a little different,” Grasu said. “It was the last game. All you had to worry about was the offseason. Now we got to worry about getting better for the next game. It’s a pretty big game.”
It’s the biggest game. And, like never before, we don’t have to worry about the right teams playing in it.

On Our Way

I'll believe when the walls stop turning
I'll believe when the storm is through
I believe I hear them say
David won't stop writing songs
I never wanna shake their hands and stay
I never wanna shake their hands and stay
Oh no let's go

We are young, we are one
Let us shine for what it's worth
To your place, place, place
We're on our way, way, way
We're on our way, way, way
We're on our way somehow
Hold me close, close, close
We're losing time, time, time
We're losing time, time, time
We're falling to the ground

I'll believe when the sky is burning
I'll believe when I see the view
I believe that I hear them say
David won't stop dreaming now
And everybody clap your hands and shout
And everybody clap your hands and shout
Oh no, They shout

We are young, we are one
Let us shine for what it's worth
To your place, place, place
We're on our way, way, way
We're on our way, way, way
We're on our way somehow
Hold me close, close, close
We're losing time, time, time
We're losing time, time, time
We're falling to the ground

We are young, we are one
Let us shine for what it's worth
To your place, place, place
We're on our way, way, way
We're on our way, way, way
We're on our way
Hold me close
We're losing time
Hold me close
We're falling to the ground

Taxi drive the sun is rising
Damn the sirens, keep on driving
Flashing light, oh what a night
I miss her bed, I lost my head
And it's sunning, we're still running
For her rooftop, our last stop
Barefoot, naked, don't you let me go

To your place, place, place
We're on our way, way, way
We're on our way, way, way
We're on our way somehow
Hold me close, close, close
We're losing time, time, time
We're losing time, time, time
We're falling to the ground

We are young, we are one
Let us shine for what it's worth
To your place, place, place
We're on our way, way, way
We're on our way, way, way
We're on our way

La la la la la
(This Night Will Never End)

Hold me close, we're losing time
Hold me close, we're falling to the ground.

Ohio State: 2015 Sugar Bowl Champions

NEW ORLEANS -- Urban Meyer had barely sat down after the Allstate Sugar Bowl when someone told him the score from the other semifinal game.
He started to bolt from his chair, feigning a sense of urgency with another game left against a team that wiped out the defending national champion.
"We've got to go get ready for that one,'' Meyer said.
Actually, he's not intimidated in the least. Meyer knows he's got a pretty good team, too.
Cardale Jones turned in another savvy performance in his second college start and Ezekiel Elliott ran for a Sugar-Bowl record 230 yards Thursday night, leading Ohio State to a 42-35 upset of top-ranked Alabama in the second semifinal of the College Football Playoff.
The No. 4 Buckeyes (13-1) kicked off at the Superdome right after No. 2 Oregon finished its 59-20 rout of reigning champ Florida State in the Rose Bowl Presented by Northwestern Mutual.
Now, it's on to the Jan. 12 College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T in Arlington, Texas.
Denied a shot at his fourth national title in six years, Alabama coach Nick Saban has no doubt Ohio State can hang with the high-scoring Ducks.
"They're capable of playing with any team in the country,'' he said.
Meyer also likes his team's chances.
"We're good enough,'' he said. "That was a sledgehammer game. That was a classic.''
This is what Meyer had in mind when he took over at Ohio State in 2012, having taken a year off from coaching after leading Florida to a pair of national titles. Coming from the Southeastern Conference, Meyer knew what he had to do. Recruit more speed. Bring a more athletic style to the plodding Big Ten. Turn Columbus into the SEC North.
After just three years on the job, he's one win away from a national championship. And, for the first time in nine years, the SEC won't be part of the championship game.
"Maybe the Big Ten is not that bad,'' said Meyer, whose team rallied from a 21-6 deficit. "Maybe it's pretty damn good.''
Jones threw for 243 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown to Devin Smith that put the Buckeyes ahead for good early in the third quarter. He also ran for 43 yards and converted a crucial third-down play with a spinning, 1-yard dive and Ohio State clinging to a 34-28 lead.
On the next play, Elliott took a handoff, broke one feeble attempt at a tackle and was gone for an 85-yard touchdown that essentially clinched the victory with 3:24 remaining. Ohio State snapped an 0-for-10 futility streak against the SEC in bowl games, its only victory vacated by a scandal that cost former coach Jim Tressel his job.
Alabama (12-2) didn't go down quietly.
Blake Sims threw a 6-yard touchdown pass toAmari Cooper with 1:59 remaining. The Buckeyes recovered the onside kick, but Alabama got it back one more time after some questionable clock management.
The Tide's final shot ended when a desperation heave into the end zone was picked off by Tyvis Powell as time ran out, Sims' third interception of the game.
"I feel like I'm going to Disney World,'' a giddy Powell said.
Not yet. The next stop is Jerry's World in Arlington.
Or maybe Cardale's World would be more appropriate.
Jones started fall practice as Ohio State's third-string quarterback, moved up the depth chart when star Braxton Miller sustained a season-ending shoulder injury and became the starter for the Big Ten championship game after J.T. Barrett went down with an injury.
A 59-0 rout of Wisconsin showed that Jones was up to the job. His performance against Alabama gives him a chance to go down as one of the greatest replacement players in college football history.
Alabama hardly looked like the defensive powerhouse that coach Nick Saban is used to sending out, giving up 537 yards to the Buckeyes. Elliott scored on a 3-yard run with 2:55 left in first half to spark the comeback, and he wound up averaging a staggering 11.5 yards on 20 carries to earn the award as the most outstanding offensive player.
"He's probably the most underrated back in the United States," Meyer said.
For the second year in a row, Alabama's season ended at the Sugar Bowl.
This one was especially painful, costing the Tide a chance to advance in college football's first playoff.
"I'm proud of this team," Saban said. "They excelled all year long and kept Alabama at the forefront of college football."
But he never liked the feel of the game, even after Alabama raced to its early lead, taking advantage of a pair of turnovers and coming up with a pair of red zone stops.
"We really weren't stopping them. We had the momentum of the game because of the turnovers," Saban said. "We did not control the football game like we usually do."
Shaking off an interception, Jones led one of the biggest drives of the game at the end of the first half. He completed three straight passes for 37 yards, then broke off a 27-yard run up the middle when his receivers were covered. After a timeout with 19 seconds remaining, Ohio State pulled out a trick play -- and Michael Thomas pulled off one of the most spectacular catches of the season.
Jones handed off to receiver Jalin Marshall on an apparent end-around, Marshall flipped it to Evan Spencer coming the other way, and Spencer suddenly pulled up and threw toward Thomas. He leaped up to make a twisting catch and somehow got his left foot down just inside the line for a 13-yard score that gave the Buckeyes all the momentum going into halftime.
Ohio State kept right on going, scoring two more touchdowns to complete a stunning 28-0 spurt that pushed the Buckeyes ahead 34-21.

Oregon: 2015 Rose Bowl Champions

PASADENA, Calif. -- Touchdown. Turnover. Touchdown. Turnover. Touchdown.
And on it went for Oregon.
Marcus Mariota and the Ducks are built for speed, and in a flash they turned the first College Football Playoff semifinal game into a rout.
The Ducks dusted Florida State 59-20 on Thursday, and now it's on to Texas to try to win their first national championship.
"It's incredible. I'm so proud of these guys right here," Mariota said. "We've got one more to take care of."
The second-seeded Ducks (13-1) scored six straight times they touched the ball in the second half, with five of the touchdowns covering at least 21 yards and the last four coming after Florida State turnovers.
In a span of 12:54 on the game clock, the score went from 25-20 to 59-20.
"A lot of fun," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said of the Ducks' run, "but at the same time, these guys were able to retain a tremendous focus."
In the matchup of Heisman Trophy winners, Jameis Winston matched Mariota's numbers, but the Seminoles were no match for the Ducks in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual. The Pac-12 champions will play Allstate Sugar Bowl winner Ohio State on Jan. 12 in Arlington, Texas, for the national title. The Buckeyes beat Alabama on Thursday night, 42-35.
Third-seeded Florida State's winning streak ends at 29. In Winston's first loss as a college starter, and maybe his last game in college, he threw for 348 yards and turned the ball over twice.
"I think what he did as a competitor and what he does with his teammates, he's one of the great players in not only college football, but college football history to me," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "It was a tough day out there."
Mariota was mostly brilliant again. Directing the Ducks' warp-speed, hurry-up offense -- Oregon averaged 20.2 seconds per play, the fastest Florida State has faced this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information -- the junior passed for 338 yards and two touchdowns. When he sprinted for a 23-yard touchdown with 13:56 left in the fourth quarter, it made the score 52-20 and made the Ducks the first team to reach 50 points in Rose Bowl history. This was game No. 101.
"The longer you go, the stronger you get," said Ducks safety Erick Dargan, who forced a fumble and intercepted a pass. "We went longer and we stayed stronger. Everyone kept demanding more out of each other."
The Ducks' fans spent much of the final quarter mockingly doing the Seminoles' chant and tomahawk chop. After it was over, the players sported T-shirts that read "WON NOT DONE."
The first playoff game at college football's highest level, the type of postseason game fans have longed for, looked like it would be a classic for about two and a half quarters.
Under a cloudless sky, on a chilly day in Pasadena, the Rose Bowl featured the third matchup of Heisman Trophy winners and a couple of quarterbacks who could be vying to be the first overall pick in April's NFL draft.
On the same field where Florida State erased an 18-point deficit against Auburn to win the national title last year, the Seminoles trailed at halftime for the sixth time this season.
And then the hole got deeper.
Seminoles freshman Dalvin Cook was stripped byDerrick Malone Jr. with Florida State in Oregon territory. The Ducks quickly flipped the field, andRoyce Freeman scored his second touchdown of the day from 3 yards out to make it 25-13.
Helfrich had called the Seminoles "unflappable" during the week leading up to the Rose Bowl -- and they showed it on the next drive.
Winston threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to freshman Travis Rudolph to make it 25-20 Oregon with 8:07 left in the third.
Then the Ducks took off.
Mariota zipped a pass to Darren Carrington for a 56-yard touchdown pass.
Then another fumble by Cook, and the wave of big plays and points the Ducks do better than any other team in the country started rumbling.
Mariota hit Carrington for a 30-yard touchdown, and the Rose Bowl, filled mostly with green and yellow, was rumbling, too.
With the sun just about set behind the San Gabriel mountains, the Ducks put the Noles away.
On fourth-and-5 in Oregon territory, Winston had lots of time but couldn't find a receiver. He was flushed from the pocket, and as he loaded to throw, his foot slipped and the ball popped out of his hands.
"It kind of looked like he slipped on a banana, like in cartoons," Oregon linebacker Torrodney Prevot said.
The fumble bounced into Tony Washington's arms, and the defensive end went 58 yards for a score.
"It was just a crazy play," Winston said.
The wave had washed over Florida State.
Florida State had not lost since Nov. 24, 2012, to Florida. Winston had never lost a college start in 26 tries.
Turnovers were a problem all season for the Seminoles, who came into the game 84th in the nation in turnover margin (minus-3), and in the playoff, that was ultimately what doomed them.
"We beat ourselves," Winston said. "We were never stopped at all."
Winston, whose two years at Florida State have been filled with spectacular play on the field and controversy off, still has two years of eligibility left.
Mariota and the Ducks are moving on, with a chance to add the biggest prize of all -- the only significant one missing -- to their trophy case.

Missouri: 2015 Citrus Bowl Champions

ORLANDO, Florida — As Missouri players jogged to the locker room to celebrate a Citrus Bowl victory against Minnesota, running backs coach Brian Jones grabbed center Evan Boehm by the shoulders. 
"Every bone! Every bone!" Jones shouted in Evan Boehm's ear, praising the Tigers' play in the 33-17 win.
Meanwhile, Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk looked worn out heading to the locker room, pressing against his temple and limping as a result of a Golden Gopher hitting Mauk's calf with his helmet. Mauk would need to be carried off the field by his teammates after that play, and he vomited on the sideline. On television, he looked dazed. 
ABC commentators discussed whether Mauk was concussed after getting hit on a touchdown run. But Mauk got up after the score and shouted in the direction of Derrick Wells, who caught one of Mauk's two interceptions in the first quarter. Mauk would later say he did not get tested for a concussion and was fine. 
"I mean, that's Maty being Maty right there," receiver Bud Sasser said. "That's him taking chances. He's not about to dive in the end zone. He's going to lower his shoulder. It doesn't matter what size you are, how big you are. If he feels like you're trying to challenge him, he's going to accept that challenge and he's going to take you head on."
As the game wound down, Missouri continued to lean on running backs Russell Hansbrough (121 rushing yards) and Marcus Murphy (159). But Mauk, despite being dinged up, stayed in the game long after it was in hand for the Tigers.
When you get down to the basics, Missouri has the same options on offense as everyone else. They can run the ball or pass it.
But with Mauk, this two-dimensional football reality becomes a vivid Jackson Pollock painting. His twists, turns, scrambles and flick throws often seem errant and undisciplined. But, in the end, the Missouri quarterback finds a way to win. 
"I’m never worried about Maty," kicker Andrew Baggett said. "He’s a phenomenal athlete, phenomenal quarterback, phenomenal leader. I know he’ll always get it done when he needs to get it done."
Missouri is now 14-4 in games Mauk has started. With key receivers departing from last season, as well as injuries to starting receivers this season, many expected that record to dive in 2014. 
But like the team did after devastating losses to Indiana and Georgia, Mauk and the Tigers bounced back from a bad first quarter to win the Citrus Bowl. Mauk completed 12 of 19 passing attempts, ran for a touchdown and threw for two, including a touchdown to Bud Sasser off a fade route. 
"That's what I love about Maty," Sasser said. "He believes in me to make those big plays." 
The Tigers won their 11th game of the season and second-straight bowl game. Their 23 victories over two seasons are the most in team history.   
An eight-play, 45-yard drive in the second quarter resulted in Missouri's first score. Andrew Baggett cut the score to 7-3 after a 21-yard field goal. Missouri failed to score a touchdown on that drive after being four yards away from the goal line. 
Missouri is losing a lot from this 11-win team, including defensive coordinator Dave Steckel and the three starting receivers. 
But in Mauk, the Tigers have a constant who reflects their win-at-all-costs attitude. He'll keep playing, no matter how long it takes him to limp back to his teammates. 

Michigan State: 2015 Cotton Bowl Champions

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Connor Cook and the Michigan State Spartans want to have a different role in the playoff talk next season.
With their big comeback finish in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, the No. 8 Spartans could be set up as a viable championship contender next season, after their only losses this season were to playoff teams.
Michigan State scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter on New Year's Day to beat playoff-snubbed and No. 5 Baylor 42-41 in the highest-scoring Cotton Bowl ever.
"For us to win in such an emotional and dramatic fashion like you just saw out there, really just I think with all the guys coming back, all the juniors, really just makes us feel good and brings us closer together," said Cook, who threw a 10-yard TD pass to Keith Mumphery with 17 seconds left.
Michigan State (11-2), which won the Rose Bowl as Big Ten champions last season, has won four consecutive bowl games after trailing in each of them at halftime. The Spartans' only two losses this season were to Pac-12 winner Oregon and Big Ten champ Ohio State.
Down 41-21 going into the fourth quarter, Michigan State got the winning touchdown afterMarcus Rush blocked Chris Callahan's 43-yard field goal attempt with 1:05 left.
"It's just sort of crazy," coach Mark Dantonio said. "I really probably can't put it into words. We just kept pace. We didn't panic."
When two-time Big 12 champ Baylor got the ball back for one last try, Bryce Petty was sacked on consecutive plays before Riley Bullough's clinching interception.
That was quite a final defensive stand under coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who after 11 seasons and two schools with Dantonio is leaving the Spartans to take over as head coach at Pittsburgh. Narduzzi will be about 20 miles away Friday to watch the Panthers play Houston in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl on the TCU campus.
The Cotton Bowl was the lead-in game Thursday to the two national semifinals that Baylor (11-2) hoped to be part of instead -- though that doesn't matter now.
"We've played a lot of really good games over the last seven seasons. Won a lot of really good games. And this is one of the tougher non-wins that I've ever experienced," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "It's got nothing to do with the big picture. The small picture right now is letting a game get away from us today."
Petty completed 36 of 51 passes for a Cotton Bowl-record 550 yards and three touchdowns, two to speedy freshman KD Cannon and the other to 390-pount backup guard LaQuan McGowan in the third quarter for a 41-21 lead. Baylor had 583 total yards, even with minus-20 yards rushing.
Jeremy Langford ran for 162 yards and three touchdowns for the Spartans. Cook was 24-of-42 passing for 314 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions.
Langford's 1-yard plunge with 4:55 left got the Spartans to 41-35, a play after Cook's 10-yard scramble that was initially ruled a touchdown before a replay review.
Callahan had a 46-yard field goal attempt that ricocheted off the right upright to start the fourth quarter. Michigan State then got Cook's 8-yard TD pass to tight end Josiah Price and recovered an onside kick.
Cook threw a 39-yard pass on the first play after the recovery, but was scrambling to avoid pressure on the next when he threw an awkward pass right to linebacker Taylor Young, who ran 84 yards to the end zone.
Young's apparent touchdown was wiped out by an illegal block, pushing Baylor back to its 43. After Petty's fourth-down incompletion, Michigan State went 60 yards for Langford's final score.
"You hate to 'if' it, but if you don't hit the upright, if you don't get a field goal blocked, if you don't have an offensive facemask, if you don't get a penalty on an interception return, then I think we feel a lot different right now," Briles said.
Baylor was fifth in the final College Football Playoff rankings, a spot ahead of Big 12 co-champion TCU, which the Bears beat 61-58 in October with its own 21-point comeback in the fourth quarter. The Horned Frogs won their bowl game handily, beating Mississippi 42-3 in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Wednesday.
Cannon, already with a 49-yard TD catch, split two Michigan State defenders and was in a full sprint when he reached out with both hands and made a fingertip grab near the 35. He gathered the ball in and ran to the end zone to finish a 74-yard TD before Callahan added another field goal for a 34-14 lead early in the third quarter.
Cannon finished with eight catches for 197 yards. Corey Coleman had seven catches for 150 yards, including a 53-yard score on a throw from fellow receiver Jay Lee.
"When you're down like that against a potent offense that's pretty much scoring at will, it doesn't really look too good," Cook said. "It's just a true statement never to give up."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.