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.


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

Structural Flaws: College Football Overtime

In Structural Flaws, I will discuss a puzzling rule or organizational structure in sports and explain why I agree or disagree with the issue. First up…college football overtime.


For about a zillion years, NCAA football games that were tied after the 4th quarter simply ended in a tie. But in 1996, we were introduced to overtime in college football. The overtime rules have changed a little since then, but it basically goes as follows:

Each team gets one possession from the opponent’s 25-yard-line. The rules are the same (4 downs to reach 10 yards, etc.), but there is no game clock. After each team has had a possession, the team with the highest score wins. If a tie still exists after a period of overtime, another overtime period is played. If a third overtime period is reached, any team scoring a touchdown is forced to attempt a 2-point conversation, as extra points are eliminated. This system (or one similar to it) had been used in high schools for a while before being adopted by the NCAA.

In my opinion, this is a very flawed system. I believe the reasons people might like this system are because it is exciting and it eliminates ties. These are fair points, but the system is wrong on a number of levels.

First of all, kickoffs and punts do not exist in NCAA overtime. The way I see it, you’re not really playing football if there are no kickoffs and punts. In every possession during the 60 minutes of game play, a team’s starting position can be traced back to a kickoff. Yes, turnovers and punts cause that to change, but a kickoff started it all. Punting and field position are extremely important during the first 60 minutes. However, in NCAA overtime, field position does not matter, as each team begins their drive already in field goal range. That isn’t football! Football involves kicking the ball and trying to have an advantageous field position. Why should a team be able to kick a field goal if they haven’t moved the ball down the field?

Starting at the opponent’s 25-yard line also creates a disadvantage for teams that rely on big passing plays. Let’s say a team has a quarterback who excels at throwing the deep ball along with a lightning fast receiver who is great at catching long passes. And let’s say the opponent is more of a power running team. The team that relies on big plays will not have an opportunity to play to their strengths, but the team that pounds the run will.

Another odd thing about NCAA overtime is that all stats and points count the same as they do during the first 60 minutes. So if a game goes to 2 overtime periods and a quarterback throws a touchdown in each one, that quarterback gets credit for those 2 touchdown passes, even though he didn’t have to move the team up the field to get that close to the end zone! How does that make sense? Similarly, the entire team gets those 6 or 7 or 8 points, even though they started out almost in the red zone. I’m not sure what the best solution would be for this aspect of NCAA overtime, but it’s just weird to see some of the stat lines from overtime games. A multiple-overtime game can also cause a team’s points per game average to be unfairly bloated.

If you ever watch a game go into 3 or 4 overtimes, it can be silly because the entire game often rests on the 2-point conversion plays. By the time a game reaches that point, almost every player on the field is really tired, and teams often score quickly. Those 2-point plays can sometimes come down to sheer luck or some fluky play.

For me, the solution is to switch to the NFL overtime system or something similar to it. A couple years ago, the NFL changed their overtime rules, and they now have what I consider to be a phenomenal system. The NFL used to have a pure sudden death system, where the first team to score wins. This would sometimes result in a team winning the coin toss and then going down and kicking a field goal, with the other team never getting a chance to possess the ball in overtime. But the current system has eliminated that possibility. Now, if the first team kicks a field goal on its first possession, the second team can kick a field goal of their own to tie the game, which would then send the game into sudden death at that point.

The NFL system seems confusing, but remember… the only time the game does not immediately end on a scoring play is if the first team kicks a field goal on its first possession. When that happens, the other team has a chance to match or beat that.

The NFL system is not the easiest in the world to explain, but it is actually very simple in practice. Most importantly, it keeps the essential parts of the game intact. You’re still kicking the ball and playing the field position game, just like you are throughout the other 60 minutes. And you have to earn your way across the field to get into scoring range.

If an NFL game is tied after the 15-minute overtime period, the game simply ends in a tie. Many fans hate the idea of ties in both college and pro football, but I think it’s pretty cool. in fact, with this new NFL system, we could very easily see more ties. If that happens, I hope they don’t change the system. The system works as is. You can’t expect football players to play more than 4 hours, so just call it a tie and move on.

I would like to see the NCAA scrap their system and go for one that brings special teams back into play and keeps football looking the same as it did for the first 60 minutes. What do you think?

Monday Morning Quarterback for August 19th 2013

This week’s Monday Morning Quarterback focuses on College Football and preseason rankings.  Does a preseason #1 ranking equal a National Championship?

Since the AP began polling in 1950, there have been 10*** schools who were ranked preseason #1 who have gone on to finish the season ranked number one.

In the BCS era, two teams (Florida St. in 1999 and USC in 2004), started and finished the season ranked #1.  ***It has to be said that USC’s title in 2004 was vacated due to NCAA sanctions.

This year, as expected, Alabama has been ranked #1 in AP Poll, and given their success over the last few years, they have a good chance to finish the year #1 once again.  Check out the article on the preseason AP top 25.


Can Bama make it 3 championships out of the last 4 years?  The last time Bama started and finished the season ranked #1 was in 1978 during the Bear Bryant era.  As my good friend Donney Jackson would say, “That’s why they play the games”!

That is it for this week.  Tune in Thursday night at 7pm for episode 1 of the season 2 of the Steve Black Show on



For the NCAA elite programs, its all about the Dollar

How would your business like to have a revenue of $163 million? If you want to know what that feels like ask someone in the University of Texas athletic department. USA Today released the list of top school revenue athletic programs and the Longhorns were #1.


Not to be out done, the SEC had 5 programs in the top 10 with: Auburn, LSU, Texas A & M, Florida, and Alabama. Speaking of Alabama, they need the money since they spent nearly a million dollars on food alone for the national title game. You can  read more about the cost of winning a national title in style by clicking the Yahoo article below.


If your wondering about Kentucky? They were ranked #18, 1 spot ahead of Louisville, which isn’t bad for a basketball school. #BBN

Debate: Should College Athletes get PAID???

bob stoops

Should college athletes get paid for what they do on the field and on the court for their schools?  Well on Wednesday, April 10, 2013, the age old topic of paying collegiate players surfaced again in an article on The Sporting News’ website.  In the article, University of Oklahoma’s football coach Bob Stoops had made comments in regards to players getting more than what they already receive in scholarships (Stoop later clarified those comments).

Coach Stoops, whether you agree with his comments or not, does make valid points on what players currently receive in scholarships.  I want to hear from you.  What are your comments on the topic of giving college athletes stipends as part of their scholarship?  Read the articles and feel free to leave your comments here


Favorite 30 for 30 Film

My favorite ESPN 30 for 30 Films is the Pony Excess.  It was the story of Southern Methodist University (SMU) of the early 1980’s.  Repeated offenses by the football program while on NCAA Probation lead to what we now know as the infamous “Death Penalty”, meaning no football at SMU for 2 years beginning in 1987.  Here we are now in 2013 and the program, under head coach Jim Jones, has finally come back to some respectability.  None the less, the SMU Football Program has never fully recovered from the Death Penalty after close to 26 years later.


What is your favorite 30 for 30 Film?  Please leave a reply.

Jim Valvano Quote

I am watching the ESPN 30 for 30 film Survive and Advance on the 1983 North Carolina State Basketball Team’s NCAA Title run.  It reminds me of one of Jimmy V’s famous quotes.  Here it is….

To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.

Jim Valvano at the 1993 ESPY awards