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Tag:Bowl Grades
Posted on: January 11, 2011 2:04 am
Edited on: January 11, 2011 3:10 am
 

BCS Championship Bowl Grades: Auburn

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Offense

This is uncomfortable, so let's just get it out of the way right now: Cam Newton did not win this game for Auburn. Oh, he made some good plays, and his overall numbers -- 20-34, 265 yards, 2 TD, INT, 22 rushes, 65 yards -- are certainly respectable. The fact is, though, that this game was only close because Newton missed two wide-open first-half touchdowns that could have blown the game open, and neither drive ended in points. Newton then injured his shoulder during the second half, and turned into a shell of his normal self. While he doesn't deserve a ton of scorn for his late fumble that let Oregon back into the game -- if a ball gets punched out from behind like that by someone you don't even see, well, what were you supposed to do? -- if Newton weren't running tentatively to begin with on account of that sore shoulder, does Casey Matthews still catch him from behind?

No, if anyone on the Auburn offense deserves praise, it's true freshman tailback Michael Dyer. Dyer put the team on his back in the second half, and  finished with 143 yards (96 of which came in the second half) on 22 carries. Dyer wore Oregon's smallish defense down over the course of the game, and his roll over an Oregon defender on the last drive of the game led to a 37-yard gain that put Auburn in position to win the game. Again: he's a true freshman. That the SEC gets both him and Marcus Lattimore for two more years is, well, kind of unfair. Final Grade: B

Defense

Nick Fairley has a lot to learn about on-field maturity, but as a defensive tackle, he is an absolute nightmare to block. Fairley was instrumental in the Tigers' ability to control the line of scrimmage, registering three tackles for a loss, forcing numerous hurried throws, and opening up opportunities for his teammates when he drew double-teams. His draft stock skyrocketed today, even after a dumb (but not uncharacteristic) personal foul penalty for shoving LaMichael James in the facemask well after a play was dead.

Still, Oregon only rushed for 75 yards on 32 carries -- less than a quarter of the Ducks' rushing average coming into the game. It was the first time since last season's opener against Boise State that Oregon hadn't rushed for over 100 yards in a game. That is dominance. The 374 passing yards allowed? Not so dominant, of course, but Auburn spent the entire year getting shredded through the air and it never mattered. Same goes for tonight. Final Grade: B

Special Teams

Wes Bynum wasn't particularly challenged by his field goals, which is a good thing, and he put all his kickoffs to the goal line. Oregon got no free yards from poor kickoffs, and Auburn's punting was equally inhospitable -- Ryan Shoemaker put three punts inside the 20, had no touchbacks, and allowed only six punt return yards. In close games, details matter, and Auburn took care of the details on special teams tonight. Final Grade: A

Coaching

For all the follies that usually surround collegiate game management, Gene Chizik did a very good job today. He let Gus Malzahn call an aggressive game without trying anything insane on offense, and none of his playcalls were worthy of scorn -- even that botched 4th and goal was a great call, and nobody was anywhere close to Eric Smith. Newton just failed to get the ball to him, for whatever reason. Speaking of Smith, though, his cheap shot on Dion Jordan that left the Duck bloodied near his eye was an outright disgrace, and he shouldn't have been allowed back on the field by the referees or by coaches. Smith would be injured early in the second half, rendering the point moot, but he shouldn't have been out there anymore in the first place. That's really the only gripe, though. Final Grade: A-

Team Grade

Auburn is your 2011 BCS Champion, and it achieved that by playing a team game. The secondary got torched at times, but the defense stiffened up as a whole in the red zone. Auburn's gameplan evolved nicely over the course of the game, adjusting for Newton's aches on the fly without completely neutralizing him. The game was sloppy at times, and closer than it had any right to be, but it was also scintillating at its peaks and Auburn was obviously a big reason why. Congratulations to Newton, Fairley, and the rest of the perfectly imperfect Auburn Tigers for their national championship. Final Grade: B+


Posted on: January 10, 2011 3:48 am
 

Bowl Grades: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Nevada shut down an anemic Boston College offense en route to a 20-13 win.

Nevada

Offense: Rishard Matthews had two first-quarter scores, but the Nevada offense was uncharacteristically subdued today, largely due to three turnovers -- two interceptions and a lost fumble. Still, Nevada had to punt seven times (Nevada typically punts fewer than three times a game), and scored less than half its usual amount of points. Vai Taua was held in check, with 76 yards on 22 carries, and Colin Kaepernick had a positively pedestrian performance in this, his last game as a Wolf. 20-33 for under 200 yards and only one score usually won't cut it; Nevada was fortunate to be facing Boston College. Grade: C-

Defense: Nevada typically isn't thought of as a defensive powerhouse, but it's actually not that bad. From a total yardage standpoint, Nevada's pretty middle of the road, but the Wolf Pack only gives up about 22 points a game -- second only to Boise State in the pinball-scoreboard WAC. Tonight, Nevada was all over Boston College's rushing attack, giving up 30 yards on one rush and 34 yards on the other 24 rushes combined. The Wolf Pack secondary forced two interceptions from Chase Rettig and could have had three or four more; Rettig's passes were frequently deflected or otherwise found a defender's hands. Boston College had one drive of over 30 yards all day long. That's more than you can ask from a defense -- dropped interceptions aside. Grade: A-

Coaching: It's not exactly an indictment of Chris Ault if his players weren't amped up for today's game. BC was 7-5 in a very unimpressive ACC this season, and didn't look like a worthy opponent for the champion of a conference that boasted 10-win teams Nevada, Boise State, and Hawaii among its members.  Moreover, the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl came 36 days after Nevada's last game, so there's always going to be some rust with that long of a layoff -- as was evident during this game. But Nevada looked pretty well-prepared, and Ault's play calls were fine. They were conservative, sure, but conservative wins games when leading against an inferior opponent. Really, this game wasn't nearly as close as the seven-point margin would indicate; only the turnovers kept the game "in doubt," and last we checked, Ault wasn't the one giving the ball up. Play calling is more than "you should throw a touchdown here and not an interception," after all. Grade: B

Boston College

Offense: Chase Rettig tries hard, and he tried hard for all four quarters today. Now, whenever it's necessary to mention that a player "plays hard," it's a safe assumption he just had a terrible game, and that's what happened here. Rettig's final stats were 14-34 for 121 yards and two interceptions, good for a 59.3 passer rating. Worse yet, he spent most of the game with a lower rating, and it wasn't until the fourth quarter that he stayed above three yards per pass attempt. And again, it could have been worse; Nevada should have had somewhere between three and five interceptions on the day. It didn't help that Andre Williams contributed a 30-yard rushing score and basically little else, of course, nor that the Eagle offense was painfully predictable (oh, we're getting to that). Still, this was a painfully bad offensive performance, to the point that head coach Frank Spaziani himself called it "anemic" during his halftime interview, and considering what gifts Nevada gave BC with its turnovers (an interception returned to the Nevada 6-yard line resulted in a field goal, for crying out loud), the Eagles really had no business scoring only 13 points. Grade: F

Defense: Aside from Boise State, Boston College might have the best front seven Nevada faced all year, and it was immediately evident. Nevada rushed for 114 yards, including 76 for Taua and 22 for Kaepernick. If it hadn't been for a 51-yard performance by Taua against Eastern Washington in a warmup at the beginning of the year, all three of those numbers would be season lows. All-American LB Luke Kuechly had an interception and a boatload of tackles for the Eagles, and BC frequently and reliably moved the point of attack backwards on defense when Nevada tried rushing the ball. The secondary struggled at times, though, especially on throws to the sideline. Grade: B

Coaching: Eagles fans were understandably upset with their team's play-calling, and rightfully so; it's infuriating to watch a straight-laced, run-run-third-and-long offense when the other team has a quarterback like Kaepernick and a fun system like Ault's pistol offense. The fact is, though, that Spaziani really doesn't have much talent on offense (especially with dynamic starting tailback Montel Harris still out with injury), and his defensive planning and second-half adjustments were praise-worthy. Boston College needs players on offense, plain and simple. Grade: C-

Final Grade

This practice of scheduling minor bowl games for January dates -- historically the province of only high-profile bowls -- could end today, and no college football fan would be upset. This bowl game was laughably bad, particularly when Boston College was on offense, and the fact that it comes on the eve of the national championship seems like cruel and unusual punishment. During the game, when the Kraft commercial featuring the dulcet-toned former homeless man Ted Williams finally aired, the prevailing sentiment on Twitter was that it was the unquestioned highlight of the game. It was that bad. At the very least, Boston College's defense helped get the game back to a one-possession contest, but this was the most lopsided seven-point game in recent memory. Thankfully, it's over, and real January football can be played. Grade: D- and only because it was close


Posted on: January 10, 2011 3:44 am
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Posted on: January 8, 2011 3:09 am
 

Bowl Grades: Cotton Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

LSU takes an 11-point lead into halftime after a critical Ryan Tannehill interception, and never looks back in a 41-24 victory.

LSU

Offense: Where on earth did that come from? "That" meaning: the nation's 87th-ranked offense, taking on an explosive and talented Big 12 defense, unloading a 446-yard, 41-point barrage that looked more like something we'd expect to see Monday night than tonight. For 60 minutes, the usually error-prone and conservative LSU attack -- remember, this is the same team that gained only 282 yards and scored just four touchdowns against Alcorn State -- lived up to every ounce of its vast potential.

Shall we count the ways? Jordan Jefferson had what may have been the best game of his career, throwing for three touchdowns to MVP Terrance Toliver and terrorizing A&M with his legs; aided by a dominant line, running backs Stevan Ridley and Spencer Ware each went over 100 yards, the latter on just 10 carries; and offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, less-than-popular amongst the LSU faithful these days, kept the Aggies off-balance all night with an expertly-called game. The Grade here is an easy A.

Defense: The LSU defense had a few shaky moments early on, as the Aggies showed a little bit of balance of their own to score 17 points (and miss a field goal) on their first four possessions. But from there, it was all Bayou Bengals as the Aggies' final seven drives ended interception, interception, punt, punt, touchdown, interception, fumble.

Leading the way was, predictably, an LSU cornerback ... but maybe not the one you're thinking. Freshman Tyrann Mathieu clinched the game with a pair of second-half turnovers, the first a diving interception of Tannehill and the second a smooth strip-and-recovery that would have given him a fumble returned for touchdown if not for an LSU penalty. And it was fellow freshman defensive back Eric Reid that made the play of the game, intercepting Tannehill and returning the ball to the Aggie 2, setting up the touchdown that would stretch LSU's lead to two possessions for good. By that point, any sins to open the game had long since been forgiven. Grade: B+

Coaching:
Crowton had arguably his best game since the 2007 national championship, and despite the lingering concerns that Les Miles might be plotting an escape to Michigan, the Mad Hatter had his team ready to play their best game since at least the win over Alabama. No complaints here. Grade: A

Texas A&M

Offense:
Give A&M some credit: as athletic, well-coached, and just plain fast as LSU's defense is, 24 points and 351 yards aren't anything to sneeze at. Despite the presence of Drake Nevis and Kelvin Sheppard in the front seven, Cyrus Gray still got his school-record seventh-straight 100-yard rushing game, and the Aggies finished with only one fewer first down than LSU, 24 to 23.

But none of that mattered half as much as the four turnovers, particularly the backbreaking Reid pick just before the half, which robbed the Aggies of a shot to take the lead and instead sent them in at halftime down 11 with LSU getting the ball. Tannehill had a tremendous half-season after taking over the starter's job, but this wasn't his best night. Grace: C+

Defense:
It's pretty simple: when you've let an offense as moribund as LSU's walk all over you the way LSU's did -- when Jordan Jefferson has looked like a world-beater, when Gary Crowton looks like a genius, when with the game slipping away in the third quarter you allow them to embark on a 12-play, 59-yard march that eats up 7 minutes of clock -- then you have had bad, bad night. Von Miller was his usual self -- a sack and three tackles-for-loss -- but even he couldn't do it alone. Grade: D+

Coaching:
Not many in-game decisions from Mike Sherman and his crew seemed like particularly egregious mistakes, but clearly something went awry in the Aggies' defensive game-planning for LSU to put together the kind of performance they did. And while the attempt to keep Gray involved and the offense balanced in the fourth quarter makes a certain kind of sense, a little more desperation (read: passing) would have been needed to actually turn the thing around. Grade: C

FINAL GRADE:
The first quarter made it seem the game would be a classic; the second quarter made it seem it would still be competitive; the third made it look like A&M would need a miracle; the fourth was just garbage time. Oh well. Grade: B-

Posted on: January 7, 2011 1:58 am
 

Bowl Grades: GoDaddy.com Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A flurry of Dwight Dasher interceptions helps Miami (Ohio) pull away from Middle Tennessee State, 35-21.

MIAMI (OHIO)

Offense: The RedHawks were rarely a thing of beauty tonight, punting six times, turning the ball over twice, and failing to score seven times in eight possessions over the second and third quarters. But as they've done all year, they didn't need a lot of flashiness to get the job done. Bruising back Thomas Merriweather ran for 101 yards on 27 carries with a pair of short-yardage touchdowns behind a line that mostly got the better of their MTSU counterparts; quarterback Austin Boucher tossed two picks but hit a consistent 22-of-36 for 8 yards an attempt and two scores; three different RedHawk receivers finished with at least 4 receptions and 60 yards.

Sure, they did some things wrong. But they did far more things right, and on a night when the Blue Raiders couldn't get out of their own way, that was plenty. Grade: B+

Defense:
Miami struggled in the first half with Dasher's speed and elusiveness, but as soon as they figured out how to keep him in the pocket, the game was over; his four second-half picks were the decisive factor, with the Blue Raiders 4-of-13 showing on third-down conversions a close second. Giving up 6.6 yards a carry isn't good, but when your defense collects five turnovers and holds their opponent scoreless over the final seven possessions of a two-score game, one flaw's not going to ruin the whole performance. Grade: B+

Coaching:
Miami seemed like a prime candidate to mail in their bowl performance, losing head coach Mike Haywood, coming off the high of the MAC championship, taking the long trip to Mobile (Ala.) to play one of the postseason's most lightly-regarded bowl games. But interim head coach Lance Guidry and the rest of the Miami staff had the RedHawks plenty ready to play. Grade: A

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE

Offense:
The Blue Raider offense wasn't a total disaster; it put up a respectable 371 yards, averaged the aformentioned 6.6 yards per carry, and made enough big plays to keep MTSU in the game for three quarters. But five turnovers are about four too many, and over their final 13 possessions, none lasted longer than five plays. If you're giving the opponent back the ball that often -- either by punt or turnover -- they're going to outscore you eventually.

Also, those Dasher picks? Those weren't batted balls or great defensive plays; they were horrendous throws that handed Miami possession on a silver platter. Grade: D

Defense:
It's hard to put too much blame on a Blue Raider defense that kept being put in such difficult situations by the offense, and that kept Miami off the board for so much of the middle of the game. But at the same time, giving up more than 400 total yards and three touchdown drives of 70 yards or more to a team as low-fi as Miami isn't something to crow about. Merriweather, Boucher, and the other RedHawk skill position players are solid performers, but they're also just not the kind of explosive athletes that tend to keep defensive coordinators up at night. It's not hard to think MTSU could have done better. Grade: C+

Coaching:
The Blue Raiders played hard, no question about that. And it's not entirely the coaches' fault that Dasher was so intent on throwing the ball to the other team. But at some point, maybe Rick Stockstill and Co. should have done more to rein their quarterback in; with 14 interceptions on the season in only eight games coming in, it's not like they didn't know he had a penchant for being loose with the ball. Grade: C

FINAL GRADE:
The GoDaddy.com Bowl was diverting enough. It had a lot of big and exciting plays, it stayed competitive through nearly 55 minutes, and there was a sideline interview with Danica Patrick in which she compared the atmosphere to the Indy 500. (The IRL folks are so happy for you on your move on to NASCAR, no doubt, Danica.) But there was no escaping the overwhelming feeling that this was, truly, a matchup between a 6-6 Sun Belt also-ran and the MAC team the Vegas bookies had still installed as a small underdog to them, being played in a city whose tourism commercial (featuring unflattering shots of a shipyard and a flotilla of tacky candy-colored faux-antebellum dresses) only emphasized that this was most assuredly the bowl season's equivalent of off-off-Broadway. It's hard to get too excited when the stakes seemed this low. Grade: C+

Posted on: January 5, 2011 2:40 am
 

Bowl Grades: Sugar Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Ohio State builds a 31-13 second-half lead and -- despite a safety, lost fumble, and blocked punt, all in the fourth quarter -- holds off a furious Arkansas rally to win a classic, 31-26.

OHIO STATE

Offense: Terrelle Pryor may never be remembered as the dominant force-of-nature his raw talent suggests he can be, but it won't be for his bowl performances. The Sugar Bowl MVP racked up 336 yards-from-scrimmage (221 passing, 115 rushing), accounted for two touchdowns without committing a turnover, and was sensational on third down, converting multiple hopeless-looking situations into third downs with his scrambling.

Add Pryor's night to big ones from Dane Sanzenbacher (only three receptions but two touchdowns, one on a fumble recovery), Boom Herron (87 yards, one score), and the Buckeye offensive line (5.0 yards-per-carry, no sacks allowed vs. the nation's 12th-ranked pass rush) and it's easy to see how the Buckeyes raced out to a 28-7 first-half lead. They had a much rougher second half -- only 110 yards of offense after 336 at halftime, and Herron's safety and fumble handed Arkansas two gift-wrapped opportunities -- but they also never made the killer mistake to let the Hogs all the way back. GRADE: B+

Defense: Start with Cameron Heyward, a night-long nightmare for the Hog offensive line who for all of Pryor's brilliance should have been the game MVP. Then there's the four sacks, the mediocre 5.9 yards allowed per pass play (despite the loss of top corner Chimdi Chekwa to a broken hand early in the game), and the one touchdown allowed over the course of Arkansas's final 12 possessions.

But most of all, there's this: with the Hogs within one possession following the Herron safety, their final four drives started at the 50-yard line, the Arkansas 44, the Ohio State 48, and the OSU 18. Total results of those drives? 39 yards, three points, two punts, and one backbreaking turnover. There's clutch defense, and then there's that. GRADE: A-

Coaching:
A bizarre first-half onsides kick attempt aside, Jim Tressel and his staff pushed the right buttons, kept the defense together in the face of multiple injuries, and had his team plenty ready to play on both sides of the ball. You beat a 10-win SEC team in the Sugar Bowl, you've done a lot of things right, GRADE: A-

ARKANSAS

Offense:
The Hogs finished with an impressive 402 yards against the No. 2 defense in the country, but no one's going to remember that. They'll remember the devastating parade of drops from the Hog receivers (six in all, half of them from particularly-butterfingered wideout Joe Adams) , the Swiss cheese pass protection, the wasted opportunity after wasted opportunity down the stretch, and finally the one game-icing mistake from Ryan Mallett. There's a lot to say for an offense that puts up those kinds of yards (including a quiet 139 yards rushing for Knile Davis, if there can be such a thing) and even the 26 points against a defense as stout as the Buckeyes, but as many chances as the Hog defense and special teams gave Bobby Petrino's favorite unit, there's also little question they should have found a way to finish the comeback. GRADE: C-

Defense:
For most of the first half, the Hogs looked like the rock-bottom group from 2009 rather than the much-improved outfit we saw in 2010, missing tackles left and right (Pryor is one thing, but when Sanzenbacher is juking his way out of tight spots, you've got issues) and leaving massive gaps both up front and in the secondary. 336 first-half yards to an attack as generally non-explosive as the Buckeyes' (not to mention the 28 points) pretty much says it all.

To their credit, the Hogs responded with a huge second half, giving up just one net point after yielding one field goal and scoring a safety of their own. But maybe the offense could have gotten all the way out of the hole if it hadn't been quite so deep to begin with. GRADE: B-

Coaching:
Defensive coordinator Willy Robinson deserves some kudos for his halftime adjustments and Petrino a handful for keeping his team's head in the game down big, but Petrino made some curious play calls (repeatedly asking for draws or screens on third-and-long when his quarterback possesses the strongest arm in the college game) and could have been more aggressive looking for six points late in the game rather than settling for three. Still, the Hogs' biggest problems -- his line's terrible play, the wretched drops -- were more player execution problems than coaching issues. We think. GRADE: B

FINAL GRADE:
Games simply don't get a whole lot more dramatic than this one, with the outcome seemingly riding on each and every play in the fourth quarter and momentum swinging back and forth like the needle of a metronome. If this was our appetizer for the BCS national title game, we can't wait for the main course. GRADE: A

 

Posted on: January 4, 2011 2:05 am
Edited on: January 4, 2011 8:35 am
 

Bowl Grades: Orange Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

Stanford holds Virginia Tech to a scoreless second half in their 40-12 win for the Orange Bowl title.


STANFORD

Offense - Stanford put together one of the most complete offensive second halves that Virginia Tech has seen all season after holding a 13-12 halftime lead. They did it the way they've done all season, with a balanced attack of rushing and passing. The final damage totaled an evenly distributed 534 yards of total offense, with quarterback Andrew Luck leading the way with 287 yards passing and four touchdowns. After being frustrated by Virginia Tech's defense in the first half, Luck adjusted at halftime. With the chains off, Luck's presence opened up the run game as well for Stanford, proving once again why they are the best one-loss teams in America The Cardinal fans may have seen their last of Andrew Luck in that jersey, but it was one heck of a farewell show. GRADE: A-

Defense - Virginia Tech has a backfield full of playmakers, and Stanford absolutely shut down the Hokie rushing attack. The Hokies were held to only 66 yards as a team on the ground, and the Cardinal successfully turned the Hokies into a one-dimensional team by the second half. Once they accomplished that, Stanford began turning up the pressure on Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Taylor, normally elusive and cool under pressure, was sacked eight times and forced into throwing a crucial interception in the third quarter that led to a two play, 97 yard scoring drive. If the Hokies had scored on that position, they could have tied the game at 19, but instead the Cardinal defense answered and changed the gameplan entirely for the Virginia Tech offense. GRADE: A

Coaching - When John Harbaugh gave his interview right before halftime, he mentioned that he liked "some" of what Stanford was able to get done in the first half. Andrew Luck mentioned after the game the change was about the little things. This was one of those moments when you determine that someone is one of best coaches in college football. Harbaugh and the Stanford staff repurposed Stanford's scheme at half to match defensive coordinator Bud Foster in the ongoing coaching chess match. As we saw, it worked out well for the Cardinal. Having said that, Harbaugh is so gone. His stock won't get any higher than it is right now, and the way he treated the question all night just left a feeling that he was ignoring the inevitable.  GAME: A

VIRGINIA TECH

Offense - Tyrod Taylor had one incredible play. Don't let that go unnoticed. But the Virginia Tech rushing attack of Darren Evans, Ryan Williams, and David Wilson combined for only 44 yards, well below the trio's average. The rushing attack usually helps keep the defense honest and allows Taylor to make more plays. The offensive line also struggled late to pick up the blitzes, and the Hokie offense could not find any kind of production in the second half against Stanford. GRADE: D+

Defense - Virginia Tech has been strong defending the run for most of the season, but for the first time since Boise State (the last time they played a Top 5 ranked team) strong defensive play was negated by giving up the home run. Throughout the game, strong stops would be quickly overshadowed by a crucial and/or big yard play by the Stanford offense. The few highlights the Hokies defense did have occurred in the first half, but by the end of 40 points and 534 yards a few highlights won't give you a good grade here. GRADE: D

Coaching - Bud Foster dialed up a new set of blitzes that gave the Stanford offense fits in the first half. Unfortunately, Harbaugh and the rest of the Cardinal staff adjusted at halftime and Virginia Tech had no counter. The speed with which the game got out of hand in the third quarter was surprising considering how resilient this Virginia Tech team has been all season. I assumed that the Hokies would need to play a full 60 minutes of hard-fought football in order to win. One half of perfect football wasn't enough to win against one of the better teams in Stanford's school history. GRADE: C-

FINAL GRADE: I was really excited about this game, and figured that it had the chances to be a quarterback duel for the history books between Luck and Taylor. Instead, I was most impressed with Stanford's defense and Harbaugh's ability to adjust at half. The game quickly turned into a promotional piece for Luck and his head coach. Now we will wait and wade through days filled with sources and tips, all claiming to know the fates of Harbaugh and Luck. My guess? Both gone. No sources, just a hunch. FWIW. GRADE: B-
Posted on: January 2, 2011 2:38 am
 

Bowl Grades: Fiesta Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Oklahoma outpaced Connecticut en route to a 48-20 Fiesta Bowl victory.

Oklahoma

Offense: Landry Jones set an Oklahoma bowl passing record with 433 yards through the air, and he was able to find wideouts Ryan Broyles and Cameron Kenney (both of whom had over 150 receiving yards) without much trouble. Broyles' touchdown catch was the type of play that exemplified his All-American season: an absolutely brilliant display of athleticism. DeMarco Murray wasn't a gamebreaker, but his 25 carries for 93 yards kept the chains moving -- he accounted for eight of Oklahoma's 27 first downs. Jones did throw a pick-six and Broyles coughed up a fumble at the end of an otherwise brilliant punt return, but those were relatively minor concerns. Grade: B+

Defense: Giving up 20 points is sort of a bummer, right? Thing of it is, though, UConn scored one touchdown on the aforementioned pick-six, and the other came on a kickoff return. Also, Jamell Fleming and Tony Jefferson each took an interception to the house in the second half, pushing the game out of reach for UConn. So essentially, the Oklahoma defense outscored the Huskies' offense 14-6. That's a win. Grade: A

Coaching: Well, Bob Stoops finally got that BCS bowl losing streak off his back. Shame that it had to come against such a comically overmatched opponent, but that's probably of limited concern to Stoops and the Sooners. It's hard to fault Stoops for any play calls or in-game decisions, except for that fake field goal early in the fourth quarter. Everyone in the world knows Stoops doesn't have a great deal of confidence in kicker Jimmy Stevens, who doesn't have a field goal of longer than 41 yards this year, so when OU lined up for a field goal on 4th and 7 at the UConn 30, nobody really expected a kick to go up. Further, Jones passed for 8.8 yards per attempt on the day; let the kid make another play!  Grade: B-

Connecticut

Offense: It's painfully obvious that UConn quarterback Zach Frazer doesn't have much in the way of help at receiver. The senior QB had rather pedestrian numbers again tonight (19-39, 223 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs), but several of Frazer's throws were dropped, tipped, or aimed somewhere other than where the receivers ended up going. Even on Frazer's two pick-sixes, both passes hit his receivers in the hands before being deflected up and into a Sooner's hands. It was sort of painful to watch. Jordan Todman did rush for 121 yards after a slow start, however, and Anthony Sherman and Ryan Griffin were decent targets between the 20s. Grade: D+

Defense: The Huskies' main highlight on defense was the "look what I found" interception score by Dwayne Gratz in the second quarter that first got UConn on the board, but that was pretty much it. Landry Jones found open receivers nearly every time he dropped back to pass, and Oklahoma was only forced into four punts in 14 possessions on the day. Grade: D

Coaching: Randy Edsall 's first foray into the BCS bowl world didn't go well, but that was pretty much a given considering the matchup. Connecticut's execution was sufficiently bad that it's hard to pin much on Edsall's playcalling, and the Huskies at least made Oklahoma work for its victory; this was still a 14-point game with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. It's hard to say whether Edsall will ever make it back to a BCS game -- his odds are probably better at a stronger school than UConn -- but he didn't look bad today. Grade: B

Final Grade

Look, nobody outside of Storrs, CT and whatever lair BCS president Bill Hancock resides in wanted this game to happen. The final score was pretty predictable, even though UConn stuck around for a little longer than most people would have expected. It would have been great to see this high-powered Oklahoma offense face a real defense, like that of Stanford or TCU or Boise State . But the rules are what they are, and this is what we get because of them: an afterthought of a Fiesta Bowl. Connecticut didn't belong in a BCS game, everybody knew it, and they proved why today. Can we really not get an "automatic unless you're a four-loss team" clause in the BCS language? Really? This game's very existence was unacceptable. Grade: F

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com