2006-2007 Bowl Notes & Thoughts

Posted Jan 9, 2007

Notes and thoughts on all 32 games from the 2006-2007 bowl season.

Poinsettia Bowl
TCU 37 ... Northern Illinois 7

The NFL scouts were looking hard at the matchup of NIU OT Doug Free vs. TCU DE Tommy Blake. Free couldn't handle Blake's speed as the Horned Frog junior ripped off three tackles for loss and two early sacks to all but put the game away. ... TCU had way too much speed and athleticism on both sides of the ball for the Huskies. Garrett Wolfe had nowhere to move, and QB Dan Nicholson was a sitting duck. TCU's five sacks and 14 tackles for loss don't begin to tell the whole story with several pressures in a dominant defensive performance. ... 23 TCU first downs to five, 198 rushing yards to -20, and 456 yards of total offense to 60. Not exactly the way to kick off a bowl season.

PurePioneer Las Vegas Bowl
BYU 38 ... Oregon 8

Where was the Oregon offense? 548 yards to 260?! 30 first downs to 14?! Dennis Dixon and Brady Leaf were lousy, but to be fair, they were each plagued by dropped passes and didn't get any help from anyone else. Jonathan Stewart and the Duck running game went nowhere. While the BYU defense deserves credit, it was Oregon's fault for appearing to be unprepared to play. ... John Beck once again proved he's one of the most creative passing quarterbacks in college football. He made plays when things broke down, he didn't make mistakes, outside of one bad interception, to let Oregon get back into the game, and he ran effectively. Jonny Harline upped his NFL stock by once again showing off his great hands and route running ability. However, he's more of a big wide receiver than a true tight end. ... After the ugly TCU win over Northern Illinois and BYU's domination of Oregon, the Mountain West has started out the bowl season red-hot. Let the first two bowl games be a warning to San Jose State against New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl and to Tulsa against Utah in the Armed Forces Bowl.

New Orleans Bowl
Troy 41 ... Rice 17

Rice head coach Todd Graham had a fantastic first season, but he got his pants coached off by Larry Blakeney and the Troy staff. The Owl defense couldn't tackle, the offense completely ignored the running game even when the game was still competitive in the first half, and mistakes were made late with no pace to allow for any comeback attempt and a big error not going for two to try to get the score to 16 with five minutes to play. ... This was a huge win for the Sun Belt. By not just winning, but blowing out Rice, Troy showed that teams in the league can play. The defense, especially the secondary, was hitting from the start setting the tone for the game while the run defense was terrific. Troy seemed to play with more energy keyed by the defense along with the play of QB Omar Haugabook, who made every key throw and fought through cramping problems to keep the offense moving with his legs as well as his arm. ... Rice's Joel Armstrong isn't the type of quarterback who should be throwing 54 times. His throws have no zip and telegraphed his passes against the Trojans.

PapaJohns.com Bowl
South Florida 24 ... East Carolina 7

The South Florida defense set the tone right off the bat by flying around, coming up with big hits, and being more aggressive than East Carolina. The Pirate offense was able to move the ball, even when Rob Kass filled in for James Pinkney, but didn't close and couldn't generate points to get back into the game. Basically, ECU made mistakes; South Florida didn't. ... While he wasn't sensational, Pat Julmiste did a nice job when Matt Grothe got hurt. The former starting quarterback was accurate, didn't force anything, and ran extremely well. ... This was a huge step for USF. The program hasn't been in existence all that long, but it's proven it can compete with the best in the Big East and now it has the first bowl win in the school's history. ... East Carolina needs to get better on the lines to win a game like this. The offensive front couldn't handle USF's speed or quickness, while the defensive line got pushed around a bit too much in key situations.

New Mexico Bowl
San Jose State 20 ... New Mexico 12

Turnovers are an absolute killer in bowl games. Of course, they're a big deal in any game, but in a bowl game when the matchup is supposed to be even, they can overcome a lot of problems. New Mexico stoned the San Jose State running game allowing a mere 71 yards and basically gave up one huge pass play on the 76-yard touchdown to John Broussard and was terrific the rest of the way allowing the Spartans to convert just one of 11 third down chances. The Lobo offense simply couldn't close on its drives. ... The Spartan defense might have bent, but it sure did pop. New Mexico lost four fumbles, and put the ball on the turf two other times as the Spartans went for the ball play after play after play. ... For all the talk about the New Mexico quarterback situation coming into the game, Donovan Porterie didn't come through only completing seven of 17 passes for 61 yards. Chris Nelson was a bit more effective, but he didn't get any points on the board until it was way too late. Even though Porterie is the star to build around, he still needs polish.

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Utah 25 ... Tulsa 13

Utah moved the ball, Tulsa didn't. It was that simple. The Utes were able to connect on the plays they needed to keep the chains moving converting seven of 14 third down chances, while Tulsa only converted two of 11 tries. The Golden Hurricane couldn't find anything to rely on with the Ute defense all over the place and doing as good a job wrapping up as it had all season long. ... The Utah offensive line didn't have a fantastic season, but it came up with a good outing, and was especially helped with the quickness and toughness of Eric Weddle, who capped his career with a fitting performance putting it away with a rushing touchdown, and ending the game with an interception. ... Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham might be disappointed with the way the first two seasons have gone in his regime, but he's been fantastic in bowl games dominating Georgia Tech in last year's Emerald Bowl and coming up with a solid win over Tulsa. ... This loss showed what happens when Tulsa's offense doesn't work. Paul Smith is a talented, smart, efficient passer, but he didn't make any game-changing throws and was stuck dinking and dunking. This off-season, the coaching staff has to work on how to get more of a vertical passing game going to add more to Smith's repertoire.

Hawaii Bowl
Hawaii 41 ... Arizona State 24

Can we all stop doubting Colt Brennan now? While his receivers did a great job of cranking out yards after the catch against Arizona State, Brennan put the ball in perfect positions. Half the battle is getting the ball to the right guy on the move in places they can make plays. ... What was Dirk Koetter doing at the end of the game with time management? His defense had done nothing to suggest it slow down the Hawaii attack, even when the momentum was on ASU's side, yet with less than four minutes to play and down by two scores, he chose to punt the ball. Five plays, 95 yards, 79-yard catch-and-run for a score from Jason Rivers, ball game. ... More than any other game this season, the loss to Hawaii showed how desperately ASU missed having a Derek Hagan like gamebreaker. Give credit to the Sun Devils for keeping the game close, but the offense brought a knife to a gun fight. ... Hawaii's offense gets all the publicity, and rightly so, but that defense hits like a ton of bricks. It doesn't always come up with plays, but it can pop.

Motor City Bowl
Central Michigan 31 .... Middle Tennessee 14

Did Jeff Quinn do enough in the interim to take over for Jeff Kelly as the Central Michigan head coach? The players seem to want him, and he's fired up to be the head man, but the school should at least look around a little bit first just to see who else is out there and who might be a good fit. Beating Middle Tennessee isn't enough to ensure the gig. ... The Blue Raiders had several chances to quit, but didn't. The offense wasn't working, the receivers weren't making plays, and the ground game only cranked out 61 yards, but give credit to the coaching staff and the players for fighting. ... The CMU defensive front, particularly Dan Bazuin, took over the game. His stats don't do him justice. He registered two sacks, but he hit and hurried the Middle Tennessee quarterbacks countless times. He disrupted everything.

Emerald Bowl
Florida State 44 ... UCLA 27

Well hello Lorenzo Booker. It seems like it's taken four years for the coaching staff to discover the future first day NFL pick, but he finally broke out in his final game looking great when he got in space on the outside. He's a do-it-all weapon who should've gotten the ball in his hands 25 times a game. ... UCLA's vaunted pass rush only generated one sack on 43 Drew Weatherford pass attempts. ... In a losing cause, UCLA's offensive interior dominated. Guards Shannon Tevaga and Chris Joseph and center Robert Chai shoved around the FSU tackles all night long. ... Weatherford's final yardage total (325) doesn't show what a lousy night he was having until late. He's still too erratic and he still stares at his receiver for what seems like ten minutes before firing. ... Reports of Florida State's demise have been greatly exaggerated. This game proves Bobby Bowden and his staff can still get the team up for games.

Independence Bowl
Oklahoma State 34 ... Alabama 31

Oklahoma State showed excellent offensive balance throughout the game, but two big breakdowns in the fourth quarter made the score closer than it should've been. Give the team credit for coming through with the late scoring drive it needed to win the game when many teams would've folded after a major momentum swing. ... And so ends the bizarre, disappointing season of Alabama's Ken Darby, who only gained 15 yards on ten carries. The aggressive OSU defense did a great job of getting into the backfield, and even though there were only two sacks, the consistent pressure made a difference. ... Bama's offense needs more explosion. It has the receivers and John Parker Wilson has the potential to be a more-than-solid passer. The first thing the new coach has to do it find the pop. When offensive tackle Andre Smith is your most dangerous option in the red zone, there's a problem.

Holiday Bowl
California 45 ... Texas A&M 10

Any question about the Pac 10's toughness now? Well, yeah, but California certainly proved it could manhandle a good run defense pushing Texas A&M all over the place. The O line opened mile-wide hole after mile-wide hole, and Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett sped through into the Aggie back seven time and again. The game proved a Jeff Tedford team can be about more than finesse. ... A&M was able to move the ball relatively well, but couldn't close and showed little pop in the passing game in comeback mode. Stephen McGee was efficient and Mike Goodson, before he was injured, and Jorvorskie Lane ran well, but this game was about the defense and its inability to come through with a stop. ... Does this loss erase the A&M win over Texas? No, but it ends things on a sour note and might get Aggie fans grumbling again about Dennis Franchione. While this 9-4 season wasn't a fluke, the team has to prove itself all over again next year. ... This is the type of win for Cal that should push it into preseason top ten status, and with QB Nate Longshore, most of the offensive line, Justin Forsett and DeSean Jackson returning, many will put the Bears in the top five.

Texas Bowl
Rutgers 37 ... Kansas State 10

Kansas State showed its inexperience, while Rutgers looked like a team out to prove how good it was. Everything clicked for the Scarlet Knight lines getting the ground game rolling right off the bat and allowing Mike Teel time to work. KSU QB Josh Freeman is still raw and couldn't handle the constant pressure. One Rutgers started hurrying his throws, it was over. ... This was a total team effort for Rutgers, at least on offense and defense. The special teams struggled with Jeremy Ito missing two field goals and the punt team allowing a return for a score. The miscues will be first and foremost on Greg Schiano's mind once the excitement dies down. ... This might have turned out to be a good thing for Kansas State. It's such a young team that it could use all the motivation it can get. The talent is there to grow into something special over the next few years, and this game might serve as the catalyst. ... Priority one this off-season for Rutgers will be to find a new go-to target for Teel with tight end Clark Harris graduating. Harris was a nice safety valve all season long and finished his great career with seven catches for 122 yards.

Music City Bowl
Kentucky 28 ... Clemson 20

Kentucky had the fan base and the fire, while Clemson appeared to be going through the motions for way too long. The Tigers were outplayed and outcoached as Rich Brooks and his staff pulled out all the stops, and QB Andre Woodson was terrific. He didn't make the mistakes needed to get Clemson back into the game early, and he showed to a national audience, and to all the scouts, how he can make all the throws. ... Where was the Clemson offensive line? UK's defense has been pushed around all season long, but the Tigers never got the running game on track, and all but abandoned it when things started to go south. Had Clemson been patient, stuck with the ground attack, and pounded, pounded, pounded, it would've worked well late. As Arkansas can attest to, sometimes the best home runs come from the backs, and James Davis and C.J. Spiller can certainly tear off yards in chunks. When QB Will Proctor gets the most carries and Davis and Spiller combine for 13, things aren't working.

Sun Bowl
Oregon State 39 ... Missouri 38

There are two ways to use the classic Sun Bowl. If you're Oregon State, you go into the off-season jacked up by the thrilling win and hope the momentum sparks the team to bigger and better things in 2007. If you're Missouri, the soul-crushing loss will give the coaching staff all the motivation it needs to kick the team's tail for the next eight months. ... Mike Riley will be given loads of praise for going for two, but more coaches should do that in similar situations. If you have the momentum and the defense is sucking air, why not keep the rhythm going when you're offense is in a groove? ... Missouri's defense did a great job all day long of getting into the backfield and pressuring Matt Moore, except on the final drive when it needed to make a play the most. ... You'd be hard pressed to find a game with better tight end play. Missouri's Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman, along with Oregon State's Joe Newton, all played like the Al-America caliber stars they are. ... If you ever question why some coaches like to pour it on even when up late, this game was the reason. Missouri didn't appear to turn the switch off, but it certainly wasn't as effective late as it was it was over the first 45 minutes.

Liberty Bowl
South Carolina 44 ... Houston 36

Houston got its licks in early on, and then South Carolina started generating some consistent pressure and the secondary started to make more tackles while getting in better overall position to make plays. The Cougars had the athletes to stay with the Gamecocks, but they didn't have the lines. ... Blake Mitchell kept his composure throughout the game and didn't make the key mistakes to let Houston back in it in the second half. He doesn't have to be spectacular for USC to win; he just has to be consistent. ... Can Kevin Kolb play at the next level? Absolutely. He proved against a good defense that he can be creative on his throws and reads and can put the ball in positions where his receivers can make plays. It's one thing to do that against Conference USA teams, but it's another to do that against someone from the SEC. ... Jasper Brinkley's numbers 11 tackles and a sack, might not stack up against some of the other linebackers this bowl season, but he was all over the place and was a difference maker.

Champs Sports Bowl
Maryland 24 ... Purdue 7

 Purdue's defense was shaky all season long, and it got flat-out steamrolled over by Maryland's offensive line, especially Stephon Heyer on the left side. While there weren't too many big runs, the Terps were able to consistently crank out yards helped by a great job of downfield blocking by the receivers. ... Where was Purdue's offense? Sure, Dorien Bryant and Greg Orton cranked out some receiving yards, and Curtis Painter wasn't awful throwing for 264, but there was little pop and nothing to suggest the offense was going to make any noise. Maryland's run defense isn't that good, but the Boilermakers only netted 21 yards and didn't make any commitment to the ground game. ... Maryland controlled the ball for 23:34 in the second half. It was the fault of Purdue on both sides of the ball. ... Ralph Friedgen made his reputation as an offensive wizard when it came to the passing game, but his teams are always best when they run effectively.

Insight Bowl
Texas Tech 44 ... Minnesota 41 OT

Was this Texas Tech being great or Minnesota choking? Both, but put more of it on the Gophers, particularly the coaching staff. For starters, the three man rush in the second half wasn't only not working, it was completely ineffective allowing Graham Harrell as much time as he wanted to throw. Second, the coverage needed to be changed at some point. The zone was getting picked apart to death and should've been thrown out earlier for a more conventional defense to generate a pass rush. Finally, Minnesota was obvious with its play-calling and when it did try to throw, it tried the tough sideline patterns over the move-the-chains underneath plays. The absence of Mackey Award tight end Matt Spaeth had something to do with that. ... Let it sink in: 93 yards from the end zone with no timeouts and less than a minute to play down by three points. Who comes up with a drive like that, and more to the point, who watching the game had any doubt Tech was going to pull it off? ... Whether it was coaching to pull up before the marker, or just blind luck, getting the two first down measurements, and coming up short on each, on the final drive saved the game. Those not only stopped the clock twice, but they also meant a stoppage to move the chains once Tech got the first downs.

Meineke Car Care Bowl
Boston College 25 ... Navy 24

Navy deserved better. The Midshipmen defense played its heart out stopping the Boston College running game all game long and matching the disparity in speed and athleticism with great blocking, excellent decision making on the option, and tough run after tough run. The BC back seven didn't tackle well, and Navy took advantage. However, as fantastic a job as head coach Paul Johnson did, he didn't go by the old adage that you never pitch the ball on the option when you're trying to run out the clock. To be fair, Navy wasn't going to run the ball up the gut on the BC tackles, but the game-turning play wasn't going anywhere before the ill-advised, fumbled pitch. ... What was BC doing punting the ball to Navy in the first place? The Eagles should've gone for it on fourth down rather than rely on the defense to come up with a stop. BC didn't necessarily get lucky, but it did get a monster break. Give credit to Navy for playing a good game, but BC didn't look like BC for about 58 minutes. Maybe the coaching distractions had something to do with it, or maybe the team just figured it could show up and beat Navy, but the tackling was poor, there was no running game, a few key dropped passes, and lack of energy compared to Navy.

Alamo Bowl
Texas 26 ... Iowa 24

Texas might have beaten Iowa, but the win shouldn't mask some major problems in the coaching and with how the team performed. Despite all its talent, the running game never got going finishing with a mere 70 yards, while the secondary full of top NFL prospects gave up too many big plays. Iowa might have been pumped up, but Texas should've won in a walk on speed and athleticism alone. ... As this game proved, Colt McCoy was the most valuable player in the Big 12. It's a completely different Longhorn team with him at close to 100%. ... Where did Andy Brodell come from? The Iowa receiver blew past the Texas secondary like it wasn't even there. It's a shame Drew Tate wasn't healthy all season long. He showed how good he could be when he's right. ... Even in a loss, this was a good showing for the Big Ten. Texas was a national title caliber team that almost got beat by an also-ran.

Chick-fil-A Bowl
Georgia 31 ... Virginia Tech 24

Michigan State might have the patent on being flaky, but almost no one feeds off positive momentum, and collapses when things start to sour, more than Virginia Tech. The defense is far better than it showed in the second half against Georgia, but once things started to shift the other way, suddenly, no one appeared able to make a play. QB Sean Glennon was put in a position to start bombing away to try to get the offense jump started, and that spelled the end for the Hokies. ... Matthew Stafford's stats might not have been all that great, but he showed glimpses of why he has the potential to be a superstar. He came up with a couple of throws with touch and drive that 90% of college passers could only dream of. Once he gets more help from his receivers, and gets more comfortable with his reads, he should be special.

MPC Computers Bowl
Miami 21 ... Nevada 20

It was cold, around 20 degrees, but Miami still overcame the weather and a lousy performance from the running game to pull off the win. The game showed just how much the offensive line needs to improve before the team becomes a major player again, but on the plus side, Kirby Freeman showed he might be the quarterback the team can run with going into 2007. He showed off nice touch on his deep throws and a little bit of mobility. ... Nevada played its heart out, but it was on the wrong side of a bad call on a brilliant circus catch by Anthony Pudewell and couldn't quite get over the hump once it got into scoring range. The defense, specifically Ezra Butler, was tremendous against the run. ... It was a bowl game. Couldn't there have been a different logo of some sort other than Boise State's? It seemed like the two teams just so happened to be playing on BSU's field.

Outback Bowl
Penn State 20 ... Tennessee 10

It was a near-even game with the one big Arian Foster fumble changing everything. Each team was able to move the ball a little bit, but it was the running of Tony Hunt that settled down the Penn State offense, and the play of the Nittany Lion secondary to keep the Tennessee passing game in check that made all the difference. ... Three Kevin Kelly missed field goals kept the game close, but they were bombs missing from 45, 54 and 50 yards out. ... Considering the competition, Anthony Morelli played better than he had all season long. He kept his composure under pressure and didn't make mistakes. ... Tennessee has to do something this off-season to get more of a running game. The backs rarely had room to move even with the PSU linebackers spending most of their time worrying about the passing game. ... Erik Ainge threw it 37 times for just 267 yards with 53 coming on one play. The offense just couldn't break free.

Cotton Bowl
Auburn 17 ... Nebraska 14

Quarter by quarter game notes ... It wasn't exactly the prettiest Cotton Bowl. Auburn finished up its season with 11 wins despite the lack of a consistent offense, while Nebraska ended with two major disappointments in losses in the Big 12 title game and now in the Cotton. ... Nebraska's offense seemingly pulled out every play in the book, but it didn't seem to matter. The receivers couldn't get open against the speedy Auburn defensive back seven, while the running game wasn't used enough in the second half to take control. ... As soon as Auburn got out of the first half tied, it seemed like it was going to be its day. It's hard to play that poorly, get that thoroughly dominated and come away tied. ... Brandon Cox had a better second half than the stats will show, while Zac Taylor struggled to get anything going. ... Nebraska didn't necessarily get outcoached, but it was almost like the Bill Callahan and his crew tried to hard and outthought itself. There were several bizarre, ill-timed, and curious play calls.

Capital One Bowl
Wisconsin 17 ... Arkansas 14

How did Wisconsin win this game? If you had said before the game that the Badgers would finish with -5 rushing yards, Arkansas would've thought it'd win by 50. ... The Hogs were as creative as possible with the running game, but there wasn't any consistency with the passing attack with Casey Dick, Mitch Mustain, and Darren McFadden each getting work. Mustain was good enough to show he should be the main man going into 2007. He's too good to not develop. ... Wisconsin was more than able to handle the Arkansas overall speed, but there's no answer anywhere for Felix Jones and McFadden when they get on the outside. These two are so amazing that if they get any sort of room, they're gone. ... Jamaal Anderson destroyed the Wisconsin O line. Joe Thomas was fine, but it was an awful performance by the front five. They couldn't handle the five-man Hog defensive front.

Gator Bowl
West Virginia 38 ... Georgia Tech 35

Who would've ever thought the Gator Bowl was going to be this kind of a shootout? Once again, Pat White proves he's every bit the Heisman-caliber player that Steve Slaton is, and more so because of the way he runs the offense. On the other side, if Calvin Johnson wasn't a top three pick before, he is now. ... Give credit to the Mountaineer offensive line for giving White and Owen Schmitt the room to move. The front five took control of the game when WVU needed it the most. ... Now it can be asked, why didn't the Georgia Tech coaching staff get Taylor Bennett more meaningful work in place of Reggie Ball? 19 of 29 for 326 yards and three touchdowns?! ... If you combined West Virginia's first half against Georgia in the 2006 Sugar Bowl, and the second half against Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl, you'd have a truly breathtaking game.

Rose Bowl
USC 32 ... Michigan 18

Quarter by quarter game notes ...Michigan never figured out how to keep USC from getting into the backfield over and over again, and the offensive line didn't open up many holes for Mike Hart. The supposedly great Michigan defensive line got a phenomenal game from DT Alan Branch, although the stats might not show it, but no pass rush whatsoever from LaMarr Woodley. John David Booty got time to operate, was able to move his way out of trouble, and Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith where their normal fantastic selves. ... Michigan hung around even though nothing was going its way, but the secondary couldn't stop the USC receivers. If Leon Hall is supposed to be a top five caliber pick, he didn't show it. ... Give Pete Carroll and his staff time and they'll carve up anyone. The defense was all over the place, Booty got the ball out of his hands quickly, considering the UCLA debacle, and the team played at a national title level.

Fiesta Bowl
Boise State 43 ... Oklahoma 42 OT

Quarter by quarter game notes ...How amazing was that? Boise State came through with amazingly executed play after amazingly executed play to pull off the shocker in one of the most exciting thrillers ever. Oklahoma made mistake after mistake, but it showed tremendous heart to get into a position to win late. The Broncos simply played better with some of wildly imaginative plays in big moments. ... Boise State's lines held up amazingly well. The offensive line gave Jared Zabransky a ton of time and did just enough for the running game. ... Even though he was amazing, it was great for Adrian Peterson to (most likely) end his college career with a brilliant 26-yard overtime touchdown run.

Orange Bowl
Louisville 24 ... Wake Forest 13

Quarter by quarter game notes ... Wake Forest might have lost, but it played its game and had Louisville in a perfect position for the upset until the Cardinal passing game finally got the deep ball going in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals had all Wake Forest's trick plays sniffed out, but the Demon Deacon offensive line did a good enough job of opening holes in the second half to keep it close. ... Brian Brohm was excellent when he had to be, but it helped that he got plenty of time to throw. On the other side, Riley Skinner had a magnificent game under pressure. He was cool, calm, and accurate all game long. ... While Wake Forest got a bad break on a bad fumble call, it still lost the turnover battle three to two. It needed to be at least plus-two to have pulled off the upset. ... Four penalties for 35 yards between the two teams. It was a well-played game from both sides.

Sugar Bowl
LSU 41 ... Notre Dame 14

Quarter by quarter game notes ... LSU seemed like it could turn it on at any time and put the game away. The Notre Dame defense did nothing special against anything the Tigers wanted to do, and JaMarcus Russell was nothing short of extraordinary. ... Brady Quinn wasn't anything special only completing 15 of 35 passes even though the Tigers didn't blitz as often as expected. ... 31 first downs, 245 rushing yards, and 332 passing yards for LSU. Notre Dame's defense still has a long way to go and still hasn't improved to a near-elite level since the 2006 Fiesta Bowl. ... Where were the deep balls to Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight? Where was the running from Darius Walker in the second half? ... Russell's decision has been made; he has to go off to the NFL now. His stock will never be higher.

International Bowl
Cincinnati 27 ... Western Michigan 24

This started out looking like the ugliest of the bowl games with Western Michigan appearing to be completely overmatched, but Cincinnati seemed to lose a little intensity after getting up big early, starting making mistakes, and the Broncos settled down and started making plays. ... It might not have turned out to be the blowout UC fans might have wanted after the first quarter, but it was still an impressive feat for Brian Kelly and his staff to step in and get the team prepared in time for the win. The team showed glimpses of just how good it can become over the next few seasons. ... UC did a fantastic job of neutralizing WMU pass rushing star Ameer Ismail. The All-American was held to four tackles and no sacks. ... UC safety Dominic Ross was all over the field making 11 tackles and breaking up two passes.

Southern Miss 28 ... Ohio 7

Ohio got down early, and it was over. Despite not having any semblance of a passing game, the Bobcats had to throw and throw and throw in the second half in comeback mode, and it didn't work. Without Kalvin McRae and the running attack, this game was over in the first half. ... Southern Miss didn't generate much offense, but it did what it had to do. Ohio did a great job of holding Damion Fletcher in check and forcing Jeremy Young to try to win the game, but Young came through with an efficient, mistake-free game. ... Helped by a huge drive to start the second half, Southern Miss held the ball for 35:05. Ohio needed to win the time of possession by a huge margin.

BCS Championship
Florida 41 ... Ohio State 14

Troy Smith didn't have anyone to throw to. That's not to say the Buckeyes would've beaten the Gators if Ted Ginn hadn't hurt his ankle, but it certainly didn't help. The Florida secondary swarmed all over Anthony Gonzalez and the OSU receivers, and the game was over. OSU's defense didn't do anything to shut down the Gator offense, and down 21-7, had to all but abandon the running game. ... Time of possession: Florida 40:48 - Ohio State 19.12. Third down conversions: Florida 10 of 19, Ohio State one of nine. The Gators pitched a near-perfect game. ... The Ohio State energy level never appeared to be there, even after Ginn's opening kickoff return for a score. Florida was always bouncing around and crisp, while OSU appeared to be going through the motions with no pop on either side of the ball. The Gators had a lot to do with that.