Ranking the 2009/2010 Bowls
Recapping the games - The Duds
Ranking the 2009/2010
Bowl Season - The Classics
Ranking the 2009/2010
Bowl Season - The Above-Average
Ranking the 2009/2010
Bowl Season - The Good
Ranking the 2009/2010
Bowl Season - The Mediocre
2008.2009 - Ranking all 34 bowl games
from best to worst
These gave fuel to the too-many-bowls argument
Nebraska 33 … Arizona 0
In a dominant performance by the Nebraska defense, Arizona came up with no points, just 109 yards of total offense, six first downs, and held on to the ball for just 21:48. A Matt O’Hanlon interception set up the Huskers’ first score, a four-yard Zac Lee run, just 1:15 into the game. Alex Henery connected on all four of his field goal attempts, hitting from 47, 50, 41, and 22 yards away, while Red Burkhead ran for a five-yard score in the second and Niles Paul burned the Wildcats for a 74-yard touchdown late in the third. Nebraska was never threatened as Arizona never came close to scoring.
Player of the Game: Nebraska DE Pierre Allen made four tackles, two sacks, and forced a fumble.
Arizona: Passing: Nick Foles, 6-20, 28 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Keola Antolin, 11-69, Receiving: Delashaun Dean, 3-24
Nebraska: Passing: Zac Lee, 13-23, 173 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Rex Burkhead, 17-89, 1 TD, Receiving: Niles Paul, 4-123, 1 TD
What It All Means: This was an amazing performance by the Huskers that will be sure to carry over into next year. Nebraska will be the hot team of the offseason and will be everyone’s favorite to win the North and be in the hunt for the Big 12 title, if not more, but there will still be things to work on. The defense will still be great, even without Ndamukong Suh, but the offense still has to figure out how to close. The 396 yards against a good Arizona defense were nice, but as was the case throughout the year, too many drives ended up with field goals instead of touchdowns. Four Alex Henery field goals helped to put the game away, but this could’ve been an uglier blowout had two of those drives ended in the end zone.
What It All Means: Nebraska put on a show and was fired up to make a statement, but Arizona also contributed to the problem by failing to take advantage of even the most minor of chances. The O line only gave up two sacks, but QB Nick Foles was beaten, battered and bruised into only completing 6-of-20 passes for 28 yards with a pick. He couldn’t breathe with no time to do anything, but when he was able to step into a few throws he was off and his receivers didn’t provide any help. Considering what a nice season this was, the Wildcats have to quickly blow off this disaster. This is a promising team going into next year, and now it has the motivation of this game to work harder. The coaching staff will love that, even if it didn’t like the thumping.
33. HAWAII BOWL
SMU 45 … Nevada 10
With star running backs Vai Taua (academics) and Luke Lippincott (toe) out, the Nevada offense sputtered, but SMU was nearly perfect on both sides of the ball as Kyle Padrick threw for 460 yards with second quarter scoring passes to Emmanuel Sanders from 17 yards away and to Cole Beasley from two yards out. Shawnbrey McNeal started out the scoring with two short touchdown runs, and he put the game well out of reach with a 17-yard touchdown dash late in the fourth. Nevada was down 38-0 before finally getting a 21-yard Ricky Drake field goal midway through the third quarter and didn’t get into the end zone until Brandon Wimberly caught a ten-yard pass with just over a minute to play. Nevada, the nation’s leading rushing team, ran for just 137 yards.
Player of the Game: SMU QB Kyle Padron completed 32-of-41 passes for 460 yards and two touchdowns.
Nevada: Passing: Colin Kaepernick, 15-29, 177 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Lampford Mark, 15-90, Receiving: Brandon Wimberly, 7-80, 1 TD
SMU: Passing: Kyle Padron, 32-41, 460 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Shawnbrey McNeal, 12-63, 3 TD, Receiving: Aldrick Robinson, 9-176
What It All Means: Obviously the loss of Vai Taua and the absence of Luke Lippincott hurt, but Nevada all but abandoned its patented ground game early on and this was never a game. Colin Kaepernick is a good passer in the flow of the normal offense, but he had to be a bomber and couldn’t find much room to operate and wasn’t able to break free for enough decent runs. The real problem, though, was a defense that didn’t step up with the offense struggling. This was a total team disaster for the second bowl game in a row, and it’s going to take some work to figure out how to make the team more competitive in the biggest games.
What It All Means: The real story of the game was the disaster that was Nevada, but SMU played its part in the equation with a near-perfect performance on both sides of the ball. The offensive line did a phenomenal job against Dontay Moch and the tremendous Wolf Pack pass rush, and it showed as Kyle Padron was razor-sharp against a miserable secondary. The defense did its part against the depleted Nevada backfield with a strong performance from the pass rush and by keeping the Pack offense off the field. Call this the real start of the June Jones era as SMU will now be the Conference USA talk of the offseason.
Florida 51 … Cincinnati 24
Tim Tebow set the record for the most total yards, 533, by any player in a BCS game as the Gators made this a laugher early. Tebow connected with Aaron Hernandez on a seven-yard score to spark a 23-point run to start the game, and nine seconds after Cincinnati finally got on the board with a 47-yard Jake Rogers field goal, Riley Cooper took a pass 80 yards for a score. The Gators were up 37-3 before the Bearcats got in the end zone late in the third on a two-yard Marcus Waugh catch, but the Gators answered in just over two minutes later on a four-yard Tebow run. Florida outgained the Bearcats 660 –yards to 246.
Player of the Game: Florida QB Tim Tebow completed 31-of-35 passes for 482 yards and three touchdowns, and he ran 14 times for 51 yards and a score.
Cincinnati: Passing: Tony Pike, 27-45, 170 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: Isaiah Pead, 7-48, Receiving: Mardy Gilyard, 7-41
Florida: Passing: Tim Tebow, 31-35, 482 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: Mike Gillislee, 5-79, Receiving: Aaron Hernandez, 9-111, 1 TD
What It All Means: Florida relaxed, put the SEC Championship clunker in the past, and was flawless, at least when the game mattered, taking target practice against the overmatched Bearcats. Tim Tebow got time and made every throw he needed to with time to find the right receiver every time, but he also made some NFL caliber throws along the way to make several highlight reels come late April. This was a clinic against a good team and showed just how good Florida was supposed to be if everything worked right. The Gators might go away from this game thinking what might have been, but back-to-back 13-win seasons is hardly anything to blow off considering it has never been done before.
What It All Means: Cincinnati ran into a buzzsaw. No, having Brian Kelly on the sideline wouldn’t have mattered; Florida was fired up and looking to make a statement. The Bearcat receivers had a hard time getting open, and when they did, the Gator secondary came up with big hits. This was a frustrating, chippy game with UC obviously getting annoyed early on at the bad performance, but give the team credit for fighting back to at least put some points on the board. This game shouldn’t erase all the good things that happened this year, but it’ll make it harder for the next unbeaten Big East team to get a ton of respect. Even so, yes, the Kelly factor has to come into play a little bit, and now it’ll be interesting to see how the program and the team responds and bounces back next year under Butch Jones.
South Florida 27 … Northern Illinois 3
In a tale of two halves, the two teams traded field goals in the first, and then it was all South Florida in the second. A.J. Love caught touchdown passes from 46 and seven yards away, but it was Mike Ford who stole the show running for 207 yards, with almost all of them coming in the second half, and putting the game away with a 24-yard scoring run midway through the fourth. NIU came up with five sacks, but the offense failed to produce anything more than a 21-yard Mike Salerno field goal.
Player of the Game: South Florida RB Mike Ford ran 20 times for 207 yards and a score.
Northern Illinois: Passing: Chandler Harnish, 12-25, 130 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Chad Spann, 20-93, Receiving: Marcus Lewis, 4-38
South Florida: Passing: B.J. Daniels, 14-22, 217 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Mike Ford, 20-207, 1 TD, Receiving: Carlton Mitchell, 6-94
What It All Means: Had South Florida played anyone even slightly better than Northern Illinois, this would’ve been a bad end to a bad second half of the season. The inconsistent Bulls played like they did throughout November with no consistency and too many disappointing performances. After a bad first half, Mike Ford and the offense took over and NIU never had a chance, but the offensive line had a rough day in pass protection, closing out a bad year at keeping the quarterbacks upright, while the supposedly strong pass rush didn’t generate enough pressure. This was a good year, but it wasn’t a great one. With more experience needs to come more production.
What It All Means: NIU simply didn’t have the talent. Thanks to a great pass rush and an aggressive defense that got into the backfield to blow up the USF offense early on, the Huskies were able to stay in the game. But the lack of passing pop against a pass defense that was the best in the Big East proved to be a problem in the second half. While the O line did a nice job in pass protection, it couldn’t do enough for the ground game to slow down the momentum once Mike Ford and the Bulls got rolling. NIU brings the effort to the bowl games, but it’s outgunned against the stronger teams.
Navy 35 … Missouri 13
Missouri scored just 24 seconds into the game when Danario Alexander took a short pass 58 yards for a score, and it was all Navy the rest of the way. The Midshipmen held on to the ball for almost 41 minutes and cranked out 515 yards of total offense with Ricky Dobbs running for 166 and scoring three short touchdowns. Missouri was only able to manage two 31-yard Grant Ressel field goals the rest of the way, but even down eight and with a chance to turn the game around, Navy managed to score just 35 seconds after the second field goal with a Dobbs 47-yard pass to Marcus Curry setting up an 11-yard Marcus Curry touchdown run to all but put the game away.
Player of the Game: Navy QB Ricky Dobbs completed 9-of-14 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown, and he ran 30 times for 166 yards and three touchdowns.
Missouri: Passing: Blaine Gabbert, 15-31, 291 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Derrick Washington, 11-62, Receiving: Danario Alexander, 6-137, 1 TD
Navy: Passing: Ricky Dobbs, 9-14, 130 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Ricky Dobbs, 30-166, 3 TD, Receiving: Marcus Curry, 5-97
What It All Means: The formula worked perfectly, but it wasn’t just the offense that got the job done. Ricky Dobbs ran the attack nearly perfectly, he got the passing game going just enough to keep the chains moving and keep the Tigers on their heels, but the defense deserves just as much credit. The pass rush was non-existent all season long, but it was able to come up with four sacks and forced the Mizzou offense off the field time and again. LBs Ross Pospisil and Craig Schaefer kept the Tiger running game in check and were great in the backfield. With the first ten-win season win 2004 and with such a dominant performance, this wasn’t just a good season, it was a special one.
What It All Means: What the heck was that? Just when it seemed like Missouri was on the verge of living up to its promise and potential with a three-game winning streak to close out the regular season and the offense dominating over the second half of the year, it came up with this bizarre clunker. The run defense was fantastic with the linebackers that should’ve been able to keep the Navy running game under wraps for at least a few drives, but instead this was a disaster. Worse yet, an offensive line that was so strong in pass protection all season long couldn’t handle the aggressive Navy defensive front seven even though it didn’t do anything to get to the quarterback all season long. Navy was great, yes, but Mizzou had its hand in this clunker. The 2007 Tigers responded from a bad bowl outing the previous year by going to the Big 12 Championship. Does this team have the makeup to turn this game into a positive? Motivation shouldn’t be an issue.
29. LAS VEGAS BOWL
BYU 44 … Oregon State 20
Sean Canfield ran it in from one yard out to give Oregon State a 7-0 lead, and then it was all BYU in a blowout, literally. A gusty windstorm didn’t give the passing games too many problems, but it became a factor for the kicking games and field position, but the Cougars had the biggest effect on the Beavers with 37 straight points helped by three Max Hall touchdown passes, a one-yard Harvey Unga touchdown run, and a 34-yard fumble return for a touchdown from Matt Bauman off a backwards pass that changed the game, gave the Cougars a 14-7 lead, and set the tone for the rest of the way. The Beavers finally got back on the board with a one-yard Jacquizz Rodgers touchdown run with nine-minutes to play, but it was way too little, way too late.
Player of the Game: BYU LB Matt Bauman made nine tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, broke up a pass, and took a fumble 34 yards for a touchdown.
Oregon State: Passing: Sean Canfield, 20-41, 173 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Jacquizz Rodgers, 19-70, 1 TD, Receiving: Damola Adeniji, 7-102, 1 TD
BYU: Passing: Max Hall, 19-30, 192 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: Harvey Unga, 25-79, 1 TD, Receiving: Dennis Pitta, 5-45, 1 TD
What It All Means: BYU showed up with a bad attitude and a ton of fire and Oregon State didn’t have a chance. Max Hall wasn’t perfect, but he didn’t make any mistakes, didn’t give the Beavers anything to work with, and pounced whenever there was a chance. This was a major statement for the Cougars and the Mountain West, and even though BYU was outgained 317 yards to 315, but the defense came up with a whale of a performance with most of the Beavers’ yards coming when the game was basically over. The key was the way the defense came up big when it had to allowing just one fourth down conversion in five attempts, coming up with three takeaways, and getting OSU off the field early.
What It All Means: This was a big bowl of yuck, and the Beavers will look back on this as an ugly moment with not enough effort compared to BYU and not enough production in key spots. The offense played flat, the defense got steamrolled over when it had to come up with a stop, and the Pac 10 and the Beaver program took it on the chin. Sean Canfield almost never had an open receiver to throw to, Jacquizz Rodgers never had room to move, and this was an ugly performance that led to one of the stunning duds of the early bowl season. At least Mike Riley has a motivational tool to go back to throughout the offseason.
28. CHICK-FIL-A BOWL
Virginia Tech 37 … Tennessee 14
Ryan Williams, on the way to coming up with the greatest rushing season
in school history, ran for two short scores for an early 14-0 Virginia
Tech lead, but Tennessee answered with a spinning four-yard touchdown
run from Montario Hardesty and a two-yard Denarius Moore catch. It was
all Hokies the rest fo the way scoring 23 unanswered points on three
Matt Waldron field goals and short scoring runs from Tyrod Taylor and
David Wilson. The Hokie defense kept Tennessee to five net yards on the
ground and came up with six sacks to stall drive after drive.
Player of the Game: Virginia Tech RB Ryan Williams ran 25
times for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
Tennessee: Passing: Jonathan Crompton, 15-26, 235 yds, 1 TD, 1
Rushing: Montario Hardesty, 18-39, 1 TD, Receiving: Gerald Jones, 5-70
Virginia Tech: Passing: Tyrod Taylor, 10-17, 209 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Ryan Williams, 25-117, 2 TD, Receiving: Jarrett Boykin, 4-120
What It All Means: Five rushing yards. FIVE RUSHING YARDS? The
Tennessee offensive line played a bit over its head all season long, and
it got destroyed by the Virginia Tech defensive front. Montario Hardesty
might be an NFL back, but he didn’t get any room to move and Jonathan
Crompton couldn’t pick up the slack. Once Tennessee became a pure
passing team, it was over as Tech was able to pin its ears back and rush
the passer. All of Tennessee’s supposed strengths failed, and all the
weaknesses were exposed. After a game like this, and with the problems
against Ole Miss and Dexter McCluster, going into next year the run
defense will likely be a key point of emphasis.
What It All Means: It’s time to call Tyrod Taylor a truly
special quarterback. Ryan Williams, bum ankle and all, was the star of
the game and Ed Wang and the O line did a fantastic job of paving the
way, but it has been the maturity and progression of Taylor, who threw
an interception, only his second in the last six games, who was able to
make the game a blowout with some key strikes while setting up a few
scoring plays with some nice, clutch throws. He’ll never be Peyton
Manning, but against Tennessee and going into next year, he should be
considered among the best all-around quarterbacks in the game.
Connecticut 20 … South Carolina 7
Connecticut held South Carolina to 205 yards of total offense helped by three sacks and eight tackles for loss, and while the Husky offense didn’t do too much, amassing just 253 yards, Andre Dixon carried the load. The UConn running back ran 33 times and put the game away with a ten-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter for a 20-0 lead. South Carolina finally got on the board after a blocked punt helped set up a two-yard Brian Maddox touchdown run with just over two minutes to play.
Player of the Game: Connecticut RB Andre Dixon ran 33 times for 126 yards and a score.
South Carolina: Passing: Stephen Garcia, 16-38, 129 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Stephen Garcia, 15-56, Receiving: Kenny Miler, 4-23
Connecticut: Passing: Zach Frazer, 9-21, 107 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Andre Dixon, 33-126, 1 TD, Receiving: Marcus Easley, 4-40
What It All Means: There was a blocked punt allowed and there was a fumble, and the passing game didn’t go lights out, but outside of that, UConn pitched a near-perfect game. There weren’t any penalties, the defense dominated the South Carolina offensive line and didn’t let the Gamecock offense breathe, and Andre Dixon ran well keeping the struggling UConn offense moving. The punting game was terrific with Desi Cullen keeping the Gamecocks pinned deep with four well placed punts, the defense came up with third down stop after third down stop, and after a year of turmoil, the Huskies finally got an easy one. They made it that way.
What It All Means: South Carolina has to improve on the offensive line at some point. Injuries were a problem in the past under Steve Spurrier, but this year’s group struggled throughout as the Gamecocks finished last in the SEC in rushing and couldn’t keep QB Stephen Garcia upright. Connecticut dominated the USC offensive front and the offense went nowhere because of it. There’s just enough talent to hope for a little bit of an improvement next year, but it’s not going to happen without better blocking.
St. Petersburg Bowl
Rutgers 45 … UCF 24
Working in a variety of ways, including the Wildcat formation, Mohamed Sanu ran for two short first half touchdowns and caught an 11-yard touchdown pass, and Tim Brown scored on a 65-yard touchdown catch as Rutgers rolled to a 38-17 lead on the way to the win. UCF hung around on Brett Hodges touchdown passes to Kamar Aiken from eight and 34 yards out, but two turnovers and a struggling defense were too much to overcome. Rutgers held UCF to 32 net yards rushing.
Player of the Game: Rutgers WR Mohamed Sanu ran 14 times for 48 yards and two touchdowns, caught four passes for 97 yards and a score, and misfired on his only pass attempt.
UCF: Passing: Brett Hodges, 13-28, 171 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Brynn Harvey, 13-30, Receiving: Kamar Aiken, 4-66, 2 TD
Rutgers: Passing: Tom Savage, 14-27, 294 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Mohamed Sanu, 14-48, 2 TD, Receiving: Tim Brown, 4-100, 1 TD
What It All Means: Rutgers had a hard time establishing the running game when Mohamed Sanu wasn’t running out of the Wildcat formation, and Tom Savage wasn’t always sharp throwing the ball, but the offense worked early on to take the early lead and the defense did its job in the second half and finished with six drive-crushing sacks. This was a very quiet 9-4 season that was really, really close to being fantastic outside of close home losses to Pitt and West Virginia. Considering this is a relatively young team, nine wins and a bowl victory isn’t bad, but it has to be a springboard.
What It All Means: The run defense did its job against a good Rutgers offensive line and there was enough fight to hang around late, but the offensive line got destroyed by the Scarlet Knight defensive front allowing six sacks, getting QB Brett Hodges knocked out, while doing nothing for the running game. The Knights can’t seem to come up with wins in bowl games under George O’Leary, having problems with superior teams, but they put up a fight. The lack of firepower proved costly against Rutgers, but this was still a great year with wins in five of the last six regular season games.
Georgia 44 … Texas A&M 20
Neither team did much of anything for around 25 minutes, and then the fireworks began. Texas A&M started out the scoring with a 15-yard Jamie McCoy catch, but Georgia responded with a 81-yard kickoff return for a score from Brandon Boykin. A 14-yard touchdown run from Christine Michael helped the Aggies tie the score in the third, and then it was all Georgia with a 30-point run helped by Aron White touchdown catches from 24 and two yards away and Caleb King’s second short scoring run of the game. A&M was able to move the ball, but two interceptions and a few key stalls allowed the Dawgs blow the game wide open. A&M finally got back on the board in the final minutes on a five-yard Howard Morrow catch.
Player of the Game: Georgia DB/KR Brandon Boykin made six tackles, all solo, broke up a pass, and returned two kickoffs for 81 yards and a touchdown.
Texas A&M: Passing: Jerrod Johnson, 29-58, 362 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Christine Michael, 15-77, 1 TD, Receiving: Jeff Fuller, 7-102
Georgia: Passing: Joe Cox, 15-28, 158 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Washaun Ealey, 13-78, Receiving: A.J. Green, 6-57
What It All Means: A&M played a decent team and struggled once again. The offense was fantastic at cranking out yards, but the points didn’t follow, and the pass rush that was so great against the mediocre offenses was shut down cold. Von Miller failed to generate a sack and the defense got ripped up by the normally awful Georgia ground game. It might not take too much tweaking before the Aggies become a powerhouse, but the defense needs to get tougher, and more creative, and the offensive yards have to translate into points. At the very least, there are some really nice playmakers, like RB Christine Michael, to build around, while QB Jerrod Johnson should be one of the stars of the 2010 season.
What It All Means: Georgia could’ve mailed in this game and tried to plan for the 2010 season with several new players in key spots, but the team, particularly the offensive line, showed up and pounded away on the Aggie defensive front. Joe Cox struggled with his consistency, and A.J. Green didn’t come up with as big a game as he should’ve against the bad A&M secondary, but the ground game cranked out 208 yards with Washaun Ealey averaging six yards per carry. While an 8-5 season isn’t going to cut it around Athens, the Dawgs won four of their last five games and close out with this win and the rivalry win over ACC champ, Georgia Tech. For a bad year, that’s not so bad.