Bowl Preview: Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

The 43rd annual Tostitos Fiesta Bowl will be held tomorrow night, January 1, 2014, at 8:30 PM at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, home of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

This year’s game features Big 12 champion Baylor (11-1) vs. American Athletic Conference champion Central Florida (11-1).

Baylor    Central Florida

Team History

Baylor, the traditional doormat of the Big 12 Conference, has really turned things around in recent years, as this will mark their 4th consecutive bowl appearance after being shut out from postseason play the previous 15 years. Baylor participated in the 1994 Alamo Bowl but didn’t appear in another bowl game until the 2010 Texas Bowl. This will be Baylor’s 20th bowl appearance in school history. It will be their first appearance in the Fiesta Bowl as well as their first appearance in a BCS bowl. Baylor produced recent Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, who won the award in 2011.

Central Florida joined the American Athletic Conference (formerly the Big East) this season after spending 8 years in Conference USA. This will be UCF’s 6th bowl appearance, all of which have come since 2005. As was the case with Baylor, this will be UCF’s first appearance in the Fiesta Bowl as well as their first appearance in a BCS bowl. Central Florida produced former NFL star Daunte Culpepper, who graduated in 1998.

Coaches

Baylor is coached by Art Briles, who is in his 6th season at the school after spending the previous 5 seasons at Houston. Briles has an overall record of 78-59 (44-31 at Baylor). This will be his 8th bowl game (4th at Baylor).

NCAA Football: Wofford at Baylor

Central Florida is coached by George O’Leary, who is in his 10th season at the school after spending 8 seasons at Georgia Tech and 2 seasons as an assistant with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. O’Leary is perhaps best known for being hired as the head coach at Notre Dame on December 9, 2001, and then resigning 5 days later as it was revealed that his resume contained inaccurate information. O’Leary has produced an overall college record of 123-89 (71-56 at UCF). This will be his 10th bowl game (6th at Baylor).

Central Florida Golden Knights v Florida Gators

The Game

Both schools are participating in a BCS bowl game for the first time. Baylor won its first Big 12 championship this season. Central Florida won the American Athletic Conference in its first official year of existence after formerly being called the Big East.

Baylor was the highest-scoring team in all of college football this season, finishing the year averaging 53.3 points per game. Their only loss came when they were blown out at Oklahoma State in November. Their best wins were decisive victories over Oklahoma and Texas.

Central Florida went undefeated in conference play this year, including a victory over Louisville, which was Louisville’s only loss all season. UCF’s only loss came in September when they were narrowly defeated at home against South Carolina. Their best wins this year were the Louisville win and a nonconference win over Penn State. They didn’t exactly blow everybody out, though, as 7 of their 11 wins were by 7 points or fewer.

Bryce Petty    Blake Bortles

Both teams’ marquee players are their quarterbacks – Bryce Petty of Baylor and Blake Bortles of Central Florida. Both quarterbacks are juniors. Petty has already declared that he is returning for his senior season, while Bortles has yet to announce his plans. The draft stock of Bortles has been skyrocketing lately, and he is expected to be one of the first quarterbacks taken in the draft if he declares. Both quarterbacks have impressive size, with Petty at 6’3″, 230 pounds, and Bortles at 6’4″, 230 pounds. Petty has completed 61.8 percent of his passes this season for 3,844 yards while throwing for 30 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Bortles has completed 68.1 percent of his passes this season for 3,280 yards while throwing for 22 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.

Both teams statistically have good defenses, with Baylor allowing 21.2 points per game and UCF allowing 19.6 points per game. However, Baylor scores over 20 points per game more than UCF (53.3-33.2).

Baylor is favored to win this game by 17 points, due to their juggernaut offense, better strength of schedule, and significantly higher margin of victory. I think UCF can keep it somewhat respectable but I think Baylor will win by a comfortable margin.

Prediction: Baylor 49, Central Florida 31


Which conference is # 2 in the nation in college football?

Second-Place-Trophy

Which conference is # 2 in the nation in college football?

When I ask this question I am acknowledging the fact that we can give the # 1 spot to the Southeastern Conference (SEC). There is no way to argue that case when the SEC holds the last 7 national trophies. Due to the SEC’s dominance in college football, including 9 BCS titles out of 15 title games ( 60%) we can safely say the SEC is # 1.

Let’s break down who is # 2…….

Big 10

Big Ten: Ohio State is the only team from the B10 to represent their conference in the title game. Nebraska, even though a current member was a member of the Big 12 when they advanced to the title game. The Buckeyes obtained 1 national title in a classic game against Miami in 2003. I am sure most of recall the pass interference call on Miami that helped the Buckeyes get another shot at scoring and thus sending the game to overtime. They were blasted by Florida in 2007 and LSU in 2008 in the other title games. Sorry Big Ten but Ohio State alone and 1 national title isn’t going to cut it to be # 2.

ACC

ACC: Teams represented in the BCS championship game are: Florida State (3x), Virginia Tech (1),  and Miami (2x but was previously a part of the Big East). The ACC has had ZERO appearances since 2003 in the BCS national championship game. Also, much of the ACC’s success can be credited to Miami and the Big East. Therefore, the Atlantic Coast Conference loses validity as the # 2 conference in the land.

notre dame irish

Independent: The fighting Irish are the only independent to play in a BCS national championship game. Last season, Notre Dame ran through a mediocre schedule and found itself in a battle of historically rich programs when it faced Alabama. The result was an embarrassing 42-14 defeat, proving that you have to player tougher teams than Pittsburgh if you want to compete for a national championship. I think we can rule out independents as national title contenders…sorry BYU and Idaho .

That leaves the final two contenders…..PAC 12 v. BIG 12…Who’s bringing home the bronze and who captures the silver?

In third place…..

Big 12

Big 12: Oklahoma (4), Texas (2), and Nebraska (1) combine for a total of 7 title game appearances with 2 championships. Nebraska has since defected to the Big Ten or B10 but was in the Big 12 when they went to the title game. Three different teams, even though both Oklahoma and Nebraska should not have been in the title game after losing in the Big 12 championship game, have been in the BCS championship game.  They have two national titles and the most appearances of any conference other then the SEC.   Two national titles are the closest to the SEC and that has to say something right?!  Nebraska, who again was crushed in the Big 12 championship by Colorado, was awarded a change at the title over Pac 12 champion Oregon only to be crushed by Miami in 2002. Likewise in 2004 Oklahoma, who was upset by Kansas State, was awarded a shot at the national title despite a 12-0 SEC Auburn team. Two opportunities were granted when they should not have been and that works against the Big 12.

Pac 12

Your # 2 conference is the Pac 12!

Both University of Southern California and Oregon have represented the Pacific Coast in the BCS championship game, with the Trojans winning one BCS title. Yes USC earned the AP title in 2003/4, but remember we are talking BCS not AP! The two BCS losses by USC and Oregon were in dynamite games.  USC fell to Vince Young’s Texas Longhorns in 2006 where the game was truly decide by whichever team had the ball last. Oregon lost in 2011 to eventual # 1 draft pick Cam Newton and the Auburn Tigers.

So there you have it…….congrats Pac 12 your number 2!!!

2013 NFL Draft by Conference

The 2013 National Football League Draft has come and gone.  Which conference sent more players on the the NFL via the draft this year?  Well, not a hard guess, but here are some numbers for you anyways!!

SEC  Once again, the SEC is one top with 63 total players selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. 

 

Pac 12  The PAC 12 came in 3rd with 28 players drafted.

Big 10  The Big 10 had 22 players drafted.  As so did the……..

Big 12 The Big 12 Conference.  And of the 6 BCS Conferences, bringing up the rear was the……..

Big East  Big East with 19 players drafted.

How good are the SEC’s numbers?  24.8 percent of those drafted this year came from the SEC.  33 of the first 99 players selected were from (you guessed it), the SEC.  It is the 7th straight year that the SEC has lead all conferences when it comes to NFL draft picks.  How many BCS titles have the SEC won in a row?…………..wait for it…………..Right!!!  7 in a row.  Is there a connection here?  You tell me.