Monday Morning Quarterback for January 13th

BCS

After a 16 year run, the NCAA Football Bowl Championship Series (BCS) has come to an end.  There were many opinions as to whether the BCS got it right or not.  I believe for the most part, they got it right.  In saying that, I do believe that It is time for the BCS to go.  I am looking forward to the playoff format that will begin next season.  I will tell you one thing, I think most will agree that the BCS went out with a BANG!!!  Maybe the best overall set of BCS games in its history.  Here is a recap.

The Rose Bowl Game Presented by VIZIO

rose bowl vizio

The game featured the Champions of the PAC 12 and the BIG 10 (#4 Stanford vs. #5 Michigan State.  This was a very tough, close game throughout.  With Stanford down 24-20 and driving late in the contest facing a fourth and 1. It was Kyler Elsworth, who stuffed Stanford fullback Ryan Hewitt on that fourth and-1 play with 1:34 left and the ball at Stanford’s 34-yard line to preserve the win for the Spartans.  Nice game to begin the last BCS.

The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

This game featured the Champions of the BIG 12 and the American Athletic Conference (#6 Baylor vs. #15 UCF).  UCF started out with a 14 point lead, but Baylor cut the lead to 14-13.  It became a scoring fest as both teams combining for over 1,000 yards of total offense, but behind a great performance from UCF’s Quarterback Blake Bortles, the Knights prevailed 52-42.  This was the second win in a row in the BCS for the AAC (Formerly he Big East), to finish out the BCS era.

The All State Sugar Bowl

sugar

This was a match up of two traditional college football powers (#3 Alabama vs. #11 Oklahoma).  Just four plays into the ballgame, Alabama had a 7-0 lead and most people were thinking a Bama blowout, but with Oklahoma taking advantage of three Bama turnovers, went into the half with a 34-17 halftime lead.  Both teams exchanged touchdowns in the second half resulting in a 45-31 Sooner victory.  This game saw the emergence of two future college superstars:  Alabama’s freshman running back Derrick Henry (8 carries for 100 yards and 2 touchdown-one on a 61 yard reception) and Oklahoma’s Redshirt Freshman Trevor Knight (32/44 passing for 348 yards with 4 touchdowns and 1 interception).  Alabama’s AJ McCarron finished a great college career going 19/30 passing, with 387 yards; 2 touchdowns and two picks.  It was not the ending he wanted, but McCarron finishes a great career that saw him getting three National Championship Rings for the Crimson Tide.  Being a life long Sooner fan, I personally enjoyed this win.  I am definitely looking forward to next season for Boomer Sooner!!!

The Fed Ex Orange Bowl

fedex-orange-bowl-logo

This game featured two at large programs (#7 Ohio State vs. #12 Clemson).  The game was another back and forth contest, but it was a late touchdown from Clemson’s Taj Boyd to Sammy Watkins, plus a Clemson interception of Ohio State’s Braxton Miller on the following drive to seal a 40-35 Tiger victory.  This was the second loss in a roll for the Buckeyes after winning their first 24 games in the two year Urban Myer era.

VIZIO National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl Stadium

bcs championship

This was a match up between the only unbeaten teams in college football.  (ACC Champ and #1 Florida State vs. SEC Champ and #2 Auburn).  It looked like Auburn was going to make it 8 in a row for the Mighty SEC, as they powered their way to a 21-3 late first half lead.  Florida St, on the strength of a fake punt on a forth and one play, managed to score a touchdown late to cut the lead to 21-10 at the half.  FSU managed only a field goal in the 3rd quarter to cut the Tiger lead to 21-13, but the scoring picked up for both teams in the pivotal 4th quarter.  FSU outscored Auburn 21-10 in the forth with both teams exchanging touchdowns late in the contest.  Tre Mason’s 37 yard touchdown run with 1:19 left put Auburn on top 31-27.  FSU followed that score with a 1 yard touchdown pass from Heisman winner Jameis Winston to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds remaining to seal the Championship for the Seminloes.  The Championship was the second for FSU in the BCS era, preventing Auburn from getting their 2nd title in the last four years.

crystal football

Well the final BCS has come to an end.  As for BCS games go, 2014 was probably the best BCS season ever.  All games were exciting to watch, as most of the games came down to the last minutes of the game before a winner was determined.  All of these schools were winners and deserved to be there, but if you are keeping score at home, here are the final conference records in the 2014 BCS:  ACC was 2-0, AAC was 1-0, BIG 12 and BIG 12 were 1-1, PAC 12 was 0-1 and the SEC was 0-2.

To some, it was a fitting end to the SEC dominance over the last 7 years, but no one can deny that the SEC was the true winner during the BCS era.  The SEC scored 9 National Champions during the BCS era (Bama (3), LSU and Florida (2 each), Auburn and Tennessee (1 each).  The other five conferences combined for 8 Championships (ACC and BIG 12 with 2 a piece (FSU with 2, Oklahoma and Texas with 1 each); (BIG East/AAC, BIG 10 and PAC 12 with 1 a piece (Miami, Ohio State and Southern California*).

*USC’s title in 2005 was vacated due to NCAA Sanctions.

As for the stipulation for Notre Dame and Non Qualifying Conferences in the BCS, that stipulation never really emerged with Notre Dame as the only school outside of the Big Six Conferences to make it to a National Title Game, getting blown out by Alabama in last year’s Title Game.

The Non-Qualifying Conferences did send teams to the BCS with decent results.  Boise State and Utah both went 2-0 in their only BCS appearances, TCU went 1-1 and Hawaii and Northern Illinois lost in their only BCS appearance.  Notre Dame went 0-3 in their only other BCS appearances outside of last year’s title game.

I am definitely looking forward to what the new 4 team playoff system has to offer next season.  Late August will be here quicker than what you think.

Have a great week!!!!

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