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Ranking the 2009/2010 Bowls - The Mediocre
USC FB Stanley Havili
USC FB Stanley Havili
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 8, 2010


Ranking the 2009/2010 Bowl Season with the best to the worst bowls, here are The Mediocre. They had their moments, but these were bowl games. No more, no less.

Ranking the 2009/2010 Bowls

Recapping the games - The Mediocre


- 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 Duds  
- 2008.2009 - Ranking all 34 bowl games from best to worst

The Mediocre
They had their moments, but these were bowl games. No more, no less.

24. COTTON BOWL
Ole Miss 21 … Oklahoma State 7
In one of the strangest bowl games ever, Ole Miss overcame five turnovers by forcing seven Oklahoma State turnovers and six in the fourth quarter to break open a game full of offensive futility. Dexter McCluster got Ole Miss on the board first with an 86-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, and he ran for a two-yard score with 4:03 in the fourth. OSU got a one-yard touchdown catch from Wilson Youman off a jump pass from RB Keith Toston and was within seven late with a chance to tie the game, but Patrick Trahan took a fumble 34 yards for a score to put the game away for the Rebels. Ole Miss outgained the Cowboys 364 yards to 259.
Player of the Game: Ole Miss RB Dexter McCluster ran 34 times for 184 yards and two touchdowns, and he caught five passes for 45 yards.
Oklahoma State: Passing: Zac Robinson, 13-31, 118 yds, 4 INT
Rushing: Kendall Hunter, 9-94, Receiving: Justin Blackmon, 4-45
Ole Miss: Passing: Jevan Snead, 13-23, 168 yds, 3 INT
Rushing: Dexter McCluster, 34-184, 2 TD, Receiving: Shay Hodge, 7-112
What It All Means: The Oklahoma State offense was a disappointment all season long because of injuries, suspensions, and inconsistencies, but this was at a whole other level of incompetence. The running game averaged five yards per carry, but the offense didn’t commit to the run with just 28 attempts, while the inability of Zac Robinson to move the chains was a big problem for three quarters. In all, OSU converted 2-of-13 third down chances, and then came the turnovers … all the turnovers. Considering the defense was able to come up with five turnovers and the offense still only put up seven points, this was an awful way to end a season that failed to live up to expectations. On the plus side, the defense did a nice job, highlighted by a tremendous game from safety Andre Sexton, who made ten tackles and two interceptions.
What It All Means: Yeah, Ole Miss won the game, but yeeeeeesh. The offense couldn’t stop giving the ball away and struggled to take advantage of all the turnovers the defense was able to force, Jevan Snead struggled to throw the ball to his own guys on a consistent basis, Joshua Shene missed two field goals, and it took seven turnovers to come away with the win. Of course, having a playmaker like Dexter McCluster helped. He and WR Shay Hodge, who caught seven passes for 113 yards, did their part to keep the offense moving, but this was a disappointing end to a year that wasn’t quite up to the high expectations thanks to all the picks and all the inconsistencies. This is going to be a good team coming back, but it’ll be interesting to see if it can play better when no one is talking about the BCS possibilities.

23. SAN DIEGO COUNTY CREDIT UNION POINSETTIA BOWL
Utah 37 … California 27
Cal took an early 14-0 lead on a 36-yard Shane Vereen touchdown run and, 11 seconds later, a 31-yard interception return for a score from Eddie Young. And then it was all Utah with 27 straight points on three Jordan Wynn touchdown passes, including two to Kendrick Moeai from six and 15 yards away, and two Joe Phillips field goals. A one-yard Vereen touchdown run brought the Bears within three late in the third quarter, but Phillips connected on a 25-yard field goal and Steven Sylvester took an interception 27 yards for a touchdown to put the game away. Utah held on to the ball for 35:19.
Player of the Game: Utah QB Jordan Wynn completed 26-of-36 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns with an interception.
California: Passing: Kevin Riley, 20-36, 214 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Shane Vereen, 20-122, 2 TD, Receiving: Anthony Miller, 5-55
Utah: Passing: Jordan Wynn, 26-36, 338 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Eddie Wide, 21-37, Receiving: Jereme Brooks, 7-76, 1 TD
What It All Means: Welcome to the Jordan Wynn era. It wasn’t exactly a controversial move when the true freshman was inserted as the starting quarterback late in the season, but he was solid in monster games against TCU and BYU considering he was thrown to the wolves. And then there was the Poinsettia Bowl with an excellent performance after the first ten minutes and he carried the offense when the running game was shut down. Now the coaching staff has something to go on this recruiting season as Wynn appears to be a franchise quarterback to build around. Overall, winning a ninth straight bowl game is amazing, with only Florida State during its heyday under Bobby Bowden, winning 11 in a row, doing more.
What It All Means: Why isn’t Cal better? There’s speed, there are plenty of great talents, there are several NFL-caliber prospects, but the team just didn’t play all that well on a consistent basis. Shane Vereen had a great day in place of Jahvid Best running for 122 yards and two scores, but Kevin Riley wasn’t sharp against a tight Utah secondary and the defense that was a mess at times this season got bombed on once again. And now there’s a ton of work to do. This is a Bear team that should be good enough next year to play with anyone in the conference and be in the hunt for the Rose Bowl on talent, but can it all finally come together under Jeff Tedford? That remains to be seen after a disappointing finish to the year.

22. MUSIC CITY BOWL
Clemson 21 … Kentucky 13

In a game dominated by defense and the cold, windy weather, the two passing games produced early with Kentucky taking the lead on a 17-yard Chris Matthews catch and Clemson tying it up in the final seconds on the first quarter on a 32-yard Jacoby Ford grab. The Wildcats wouldn’t get back into the end zone managing Lones Seiber field goals from 39 and 44 yards out, while Clemson was able to take the lead for good on a one-yard Jamie Harper run in the second. C.J. Spiller moved into second on the all-time total yardage list and ran for an eight-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. UK held on to the ball for 34:26, but the Tigers were able to close out the final 5:27 after Newton was stopped just short on a 4th-and-8 run down to the Clemson 25.
Player of the Game: Clemson RB C.J. Spiller ran 15 times for 67 yards and a touchdown, caught three passes for 58 yards, and returned two kickoffs for 47 yards.
Kentucky: Passing: Morgan Newton, 13-23, 98 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Derrick Locke, 18-64, Receiving: Derrick Locke, 6-30
Clemson: Passing: Kyle Parker, 8-14, 141 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Jamie Harper, 8-79, 1 TD, Receiving: C.J. Spiller, 3-58
What It All Means: After the rough way the regular season ended with a rivalry game loss to South Carolina and an ACC title game loss to Georgia Tech, Clemson needed this win to close out with something positive to go on. A loss would’ve gotten the fan base grumbling about Dabo Swinney as the head coach, but the defense came up with the stops needed, keeping UK out of the end zone over the final 50 minutes, and doing just enough offensively to get by. C.J. Spiller might not have dominated in his final game, but he turned into a heck of a closer to end Kentucky’s hopes.
What It All Means: The lack of offensive pop was painfully evident. Derrick Locke tried to carry the offense, and he led the team in catches (six) and in rushing (64 yards), but Randall Cobb was held in check, Morgan Newton didn’t get anything going down the field, and the nation’s 114th ranked passing offense and 90th ranked overall attack sputtered over after scoring on a nice early drive. This is a young team with plenty of promise and potential, and this should be an interesting team to watch grow. But this was a tough loss in a game that was there for the taking and the UK streak of bowl wins (three) was stopped.

21. EMERALD BOWL
USC 24 … Boston College 13

Stanley Havili took two Matt Barkley passes for first half scores from 53 and five yards out and Damian Williams caught 12 passes for 189 yards, including a brilliant 48-yard play to set up a one-yard Barkley run, on the way to a good, but uninspiring USC win. BC came back after the two Havili scores with a seven-yard Montel Harris run and a 61-yard Rich Gunnell touchdown play, but the offense was shut down in the second half. USC was only up 17-13 before the Barkley run, but BC never got back in the game. Eagle LB Luke Kuechly made 16 tackles
Player of the Game: USC WR Damian Williams caught 12 passes for 189 yards
Boston College: Passing: Dave Shinskie, 14-33, 218 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Montel Harris, 23-102, 1 TD, Receiving: Rich Gunnell, 6-130, 1 TD
USC: Passing: Matt Barkley, 27-37, 350 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Allen Bradford 17-72, Receiving: Damian Williams, 12-189
What It All Means: USC might not have been anything special, but Matt Barkley came up with a 350-yard day, he worked the offense well, and the defense stepped up in the second half to secure the win. It wasn’t a BCS victory, but considering the problems and the drama this year getting to nine wins and closing out strong isn’t bad. This is a relatively young team that should come back strong if it can survive the Joe McKnight situation, and while this wasn’t an inspiring victory, it was a win. This year, with the way the team was so inconsistent, getting the win is good enough.
What It All Means: BC got outgunned. The defense that was so good all year, and got yet another great game from LB Luke Kuechly, couldn’t handle Damian Williams and couldn’t come up with the key turnovers it needed in the second half to turn things around. The big problem was the offense with Dave Shinskie failing to connect on enough third down plays to keep the offense moving. 14-of-33 wasn’t going to get it done to take the heat off of Montel Harris, who had a nice game even with the Trojan D able to key on him. USC was more talented and pumped up for the game, which was a bad combination. BC needed to be perfect, and wasn’t.

20. LITTLE CAESARS PIZZA BOWL
Marshall 21 … Ohio 17

Marshall scored the first 21 points of the game on Martin Ward touchdown runs from 21 and two yards away and a 58-yard Andre Booker punt return in what looked like a blowout, but Ohio bounced back. The Bobcat defense came up with a 75-yard fumble recovery for touchdown from Shannon Ballard, and got ten points in the third on a eight-yard Terrence McCrae touchdown catch and a 46-yard Matt Weller field goal , but couldn’t get any closer. With the ball and a chance late after a missed field goal from MU’s Craig Ratanamorn, Ohio’s final drive fizzled on an interception from DeQun Bembry. MU outgained Ohio 275 yards to 123.
Player of the Game: Marshall LB Mario Harvey made 12 tackles, two sacks, and an interception.
Marshall: Passing: Brian Anderson, 12-17, 85 yds
Rushing: Darius Marshall, 20-77, Receiving: Chuck Walker, 4-35
Ohio: Passing: Theo Scott, 14-26, 111 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Chris Garrett, 10-30, Receiving: Taylor Price, 4-49
What It All Means: The coaching issue certainly didn’t matter. Marshall showed up fired up and sharp from the start under interim coach Rick Minter, and while the offense sputtered over the final 38 minutes, the defense did its part late. It’s not like Ohio has a high-powered attack, but to allow just 12 yards rushing and 123 total yards showed just how locked in the team was. With the departure of head coach Mark Snyder, give credit to the Herd players for being able to focus on the task at hand.
What It All Means: Where was the running game this year? It struggled throughout, averaging under 120 yards per game going into the bowl game, and it was non-existent against the Thundering Herd. QB Theo Scott wasn’t able to take off, Chris Garrett gained just 30 yards on ten carries, and mostly, the line got beaten up by the Herd defensive line. But the team was able to fight back after getting down big early and had the ball in its hands with a chance to go on a last gasp drive for the win, but an interception ended the hope, and the Bobcats ended the season with a down note losing the MAC title to Central Michigan and now the bowl game.

19. ARMED FORCES
Air Force 47 … Houston 20
Air Force picked off Case Keenum six times with Chris Thomas coming up with two interceptions, and a team-leading 12 tackles, and Anthony Wright came up with three interceptions in the stunner. Air Force ran for 402 yards with Jared Tew tearing off 173 yards with a six-yard score early and a dagger of a 71-yard dash late in the fourth. Asher Clark added first half touchdown runs from 36 and 22 yards away for the Falcons on the way to a 24-6 Falcon lead at the half. Houston’s highlight came on the opening kickoff of the second half on a 79-yard kickoff return for a score form Tyron Carrier, but Air Force answered with a 100-yard Jonathan Warzeka kickoff return for a touchdown. Keenum threw one touchdown pass on a ten-yarder to Patrick Edwards.
Player of the Game: Air Force RB Jared Tew ran 26 times for 173 yards and two scores
Houston: Passing: Case Keenum, 24-41, 222 yds, 1 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Charles Sims, 14-66, Receiving: Charles Sims, 6-57
Air Force: Passing: Tim Jefferson, 10-14, 161 yds
Rushing: Jared Tew, 26-173, 2 TD, Receiving: Kevin Fogler, 4-89
What It All Means: Everything about the formula worked. Air Force’s smart, athletic pass defense stepped in front of everything Case Keenum tried to do and challenged every throw, while the running attack controlled the game from the start and kept Keenum off the field. The way Air Force played never allowed the Cougars to get into a rhythm while the Falcon backfield ran the offense to perfection. This game showed that Air Force really can play with the better offenses, and now it’s time for this to translate into doing more against the top Mountain West teams.
What It All Means: Marcus McGraw made 23 tackles, but that was about the only decent thing about the Houston game. Case Keenum and the offense were always two steps behind the Air Force defense, and in a game like this when the run defense wasn’t going to have a chance, that the Cougars couldn’t keep up meant an ugly blowout. Keenum is going to put up monster numbers again last year and Houston will outbomb most teams, but there’s a hard ceiling on what the team will be able to do until it can stop someone’s running game (or at least slow it down a wee bit).

18. INSIGHT BOWL
Iowa State 14 … Minnesota 13
Iowa State held on as Minnesota controlled the second half and, down one, appeared to be on its way to take the lead, but MarQueis Gray fumbled on the Iowa State 19 with just over four minutes to play. Iowa State was able to run out the clock helped by a third down Austen Arnaud run for seven yards. The Cyclones did all their scoring in the second quarter on a nine-yard Arnaud run and a 38-yard Jake Williams touchdown grab, but the defense held on as Minnesota scored ten unanswered points getting the second of two Eric Ellestad field goals and a 23-yard Nick Tow-Arnett touchdown catch. In the tight game, Minnesota outgained the Cyclones 434 yards to 428.
Player of the Game: Iowa State QB Austen Arnaud completed 19-of-26 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions, and he ran 21 times for 76 yards and a score.
Minnesota: Passing: Adam Weber, 18-32, 261 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: DeLeon Eskridge, 13-43, Receiving: DaJon McKnight, 7-124
Iowa State: Passing: Austen Arnaud, 19-26, 216 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Alexander Robinson, 22-137, Receiving: Jake Williams, 6-83, 1 TD
What It All Means: A win over Minnesota might not be the be-all-end-all and the launching pad for a Big 12 title, but for a program that has had so little success for so long, and after being so used to losing close games over the years, most painfully to Kansas State in the final seconds this year and a heartbreaker to Kansas, being able to hold on in the biggest game of the year is a big deal. The offensive line did a nice job, but it was the play of the 1-2 combination of QB Austen Arnaud and RB Alexander Robinson, especially to close out the game, that got the win. It would be nice if the offense could find some more pop next year, but for now, seven wins is a strong statement for Paul Rhoads in his first year.
What It All Means: The normally woeful offense actually moved the ball. Adam Weber wasn’t always sharp, and the running game was stuffed too often gaining just 3.8 yards per carry, but for an attack that averaged just 296 yards per game, coming up with 434 yards and being in a position to take the lead late was a positive step. But too many missed opportunities, a painful late fumble, and the inability to come up with a third down stop on Iowa State’s final drive couldn’t be overcome, and now, yet another season has finished in the tank. Iowa State is trying to rebuild, but Tim Brewster is supposed to have the foundation set and the program rolling by now. Instead, it’s a losing season and Brewster will be on a hot seat throughout 2010.

17. EAGLEBANK BOWL
UCLA 30 … Temple 21
Akeem Ayers fell down, got up, and found a pass thrown right to him. The UCLA linebacker rumbled in from two yards out for the game-turning touchdown with just over six minutes to play, wand with a Rosario Nelson catch for the two-point conversion, the Bruins were able to escape the tough battle. Temple held a 21-7 first half lead helped by an 11-yard Bernard Pierce run and a two-yard Matt Brown score, but the Owl offense was shut down in the second half as UCLA closed the game with 23 unanswered points. QB Kevin Prince connected with Nelson for a 46-yard touchdown in the first quarter and found Terrence Austin for a 32-yard score in the third.
Player of the Game:
UCLA LB Akeem Ayers led the team with nine tackles with two tackles for loss and an interception return for the game-winning touchdown.
Temple: Passing: Vaughn Charlton, 13-23, 159 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Matt Brown, 20-83, 1 TD, Receiving: Bernard Pierce, 3-33
UCLA: Passing: Kevin Prince, 16-31, 221 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Chane Moline, 15-69, Receiving: Nelson Rosario, 4-66, 1 TD
What It All Means: UCLA might have gotten the win, but there were even more questions after struggling so much. The defense finally woke up in the second half and shut down the Temple attack, but the offense only managed 13 first downs and 314 yards. There was no consistency, the offensive line struggled with the quick Owl defensive front, and the running game was mediocre. Even with the issues, UCLA got the bowl win and can use this to build on. Everything positive right now is a big deal for the Bruin program, and this is another good step for Rick Neuheisel and his program.
What It All Means: Temple stood toe-to-toe with a Pac 10 team and almost pulled off the shocker. The running game didn’t always work, getting stuffed for just a 2.9-yard average, but the offense was solid in the first half and made things scary for the Bruins with a 21-7 lead. The defense was quick, active, and swarmed all over the Bruin short passing game and the ground attack, but the secondary was beaten by two big plays and that was the difference. This was no fluke; Temple can play, and it showed it.

16. CHAMPS SPORTS BOWL
Wisconsin 20 … Miami 14
For roughly 57 minutes, Wisconsin dominated Miami, but the first minute of the game and the final two minutes didn’t quite go the Badgers’ way. The Canes ran a trick play on the opening kickoff as Sam Shields took it into the end zone, but it wasn’t a touchdown thanks to a penalty. However, Graig Cooper needed just one play to take it 16 yards for a Miami score, but that was it for the Miami offense until late. In between, Wisconsin got two three-yard John Clay touchdown runs and Philip Welch field goals from 37 and 29 yards away, but the second field goal came with 4:01 to play when UW chose not to go for it on 4th-and-1 deep in Miami territory. That left the door open, and Jacory Harris kicked it in going 79 yards in ten plays with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Thearon Collier with 1:22 to play. Miami recovered the onside kick, but Wisconsin’s pass rush, which beat up Harris all game long and finished with five sacks, forced a stalled drive to seal the win. Miami gained just 170 yards until its last scoring drive. Hurricane LB Darryl Sharpton made 15 tackles.
Player of the Game:
Wisconsin DEs O’Brien Schofield and J.J. Watt combined to make six tackles, three sacks, four tackles for loss, two broken up passes, and one fumble recovery.
Miami: Passing: Jacory Harris, 16-29, 188 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Damien Berry, 4-29, Receiving: Thearon Collier, 5-41, 1 TD
Wisconsin: Passing: Scott Tolzien, 19-26, 260 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: John Clay, 22-121, 2 TD, Receiving: Lance Kendricks, 7-128
What It All Means: Miami had better spend the next nine months figuring out how to protect Jacory Harris. The Cane defense got run over, it got outguessed by the Wisconsin passing game, and it struggled way too much to try to get any control over the game, but the problem was the Miami O line that almost got Harris killed. UW defensive ends J.J. Watt and O’Brien Schofield spent the entire game beating up, chasing down, and harassing No. 12, and in the one drive when they let up, the late scoring march in the final minutes, Harris showed just how good he can be. This is a fast, talented team, but it has to be far more physical.
What It All Means: Wisconsin should’ve won this game in a blowout with a dominant performance from the defense, a fantastic day from John Clay and the running game, and a sharp outing from QB Scott Tolzien. Instead, in what became an ugly trend throughout the regular season and was a problem against the Canes, the Badgers can’t drop the hammer. They were very, very fortunate that none of the victory were snatched away in the final moments after letting teams like Minnesota, Indiana, and Michigan State back in games that should’ve been over early in the fourth. But maturity might take care of that, and now, after this game, Wisconsin might be a top 15, or even higher, team going into next year.

15. ORANGE BOWL
Iowa 24 … Georgia Tech 14
Iowa held Georgia Tech’s high-powered rushing attack to 143 yards, and allowed just 155 total yards, but it wasn’t until Brandon Wegher tore off a 32-yard touchdown run with just under two minutes to play to put the game away. The Hawkeyes got off to a hot start with Ricky Stanzi connecting with Marvin McNutt from four yards out and with Colin Sandeman from 21 yards away for a 14-0 lead, but just when it seemed like they were going to put the game well out of reach, Stanzi was picked off by Jerrard Tarrant, who took the pass 40 yards for a touchdown late in the first quarter. Down 17-7 to open the second half, Tech went on an 11-play, 71-yard drive culminating in a one yard Anthony Allen touchdown run, but penalties, a key late interception from Iowa’s Tyler Sash, and poor field position ended the Tech momentum. Tech QB Josh Nesbitt completed just 2-of-9 passes for 12 yards. Player of the Game: Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn made nine tackles, all solo, with two sacks.
Georgia Tech: Passing: Josh Nesbitt, 2-9, 12 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Jonathan Dwyer, 14-49, Receiving: Jonathan Dwyer, 2-12
Iowa: Passing: Ricky Stanzi, 17-29, 231 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Brandon Wegher, 16-113, 1 TD, Receiving: Tony Moeaki, 4-85
What It All Means: Everything went wrong for the Georgia Tech offense, but the biggest problem was the Iowa defensive front. Adrian Clayborn and the Hawkeye front four whipped the Tech offensive line, and there wasn’t enough room for Josh Nesbitt and the skill players to operate. But even with all the problems, head coach Paul Johnson made a few nice adjustments and things started to work in the second half. And even with the sputtering in the first half, there were several chances when Tech had the opportunity to get into a groove only to see a bad penalty screw things up. The team committed nine for 68 yards, and all the offensive ones, except for one, were drive killers. The final score and the final stats might be ugly, but Tech might be closer to being truly special than this game might have shown.
What It All Means: This was a smart, focused, and inspired defensive effort to come up with the tough win over Tech. The big problem wasn’t stopping the offense, the defensive front took care of that, it was putting the game away. Ricky Stanzi was fantastic to start, failing to show any rust after last seeing full-time duty two months ago, but the offense sparkled when the line could open up holes for Brandon Wegher and the speed backs. With so much talent returning, even with the loss of linebackers Pat Angerer and A.J. Edds, the expectations will the through the roof, and as this game proved, Iowa wasn’t just lucky this year in a mediocre conference; it was a great team in a Big Ten that turned out to be fantastic after the bowls.

14. GATOR BOWL
Florida State 33 … West Virginia 21
Bobby Bowden went out a winner. With several former players on hand to witness the final game of the great career, the current Seminoles got the job done overcoming a 14-3 deficit with a 20-point run helped by Jermaine Thomas touchdown runs from 12 and 19 yards away. Ryan Clarke’s five-yard touchdown run helped pull the Mountaineers within two early in the fourth, but E.J. Manuel ran for a two-yard score and Dustin Hopkins nailed his fourth field goal of the game to put the game away. West Virginia dominated early on a 32-yard Jarrett Brown run for a touchdown and a one-yard score from Noel Devine, but Brown got hurt in the second quarter and the offense fizzled the rest of the way.
Player of the Game: Florida State QB E.J. Manuel completed 17-of-24 passes for 189 yards, and ran 14 times for 70 yards and a score.
West Virginia: Passing: Geno Smith, 8-15, 92 yds
Rushing: Noel Devine, 16-168, 1 TD, Receiving: Bradley Starks, 3-30
Florida State: Passing: E.J. Manuel, 17-24, 189 yds
Rushing: Jermaine Thomas 25-121, 2 TD, Receiving: Jarmon Fortson, 4-73
What It All Means: Florida State came up with an inspired effort in Bobby Bowden’s final game, and all the festivities and all the fun can be thanked to great games from Jermaine Thomas, E.J. Manuel, and the Seminole defensive front. Manuel, who had been up and down since being thrown into the mix when Christian Ponder went down, got time to work, was relaxed, and produced an efficient effort. The defense that has struggled all season long couldn’t stop Noel Devine, but once Jarrett Brown got knocked out of the game things became much easier. But this is all about Bowden and getting to go out on top. He might not have left the program and his job like he wanted, but to play a decent team like West Virginia and to get the win is as it should be.
What It All Means: It’s not fair that Jarrett Brown didn’t get a chance to close out his career with a chance at pulling off the big bowl win. Noel Devine did what he could to carry the offense on the ground, but the offense failed to move well once Brown went down with an ankle injury. The run defense was next to non-existent with the Noles able to keep the chains moving with the quick runners tearing off yards in chunks at times. Reed Williams had a good day with 11 tackles and Robert Sands made 13 stop, most down the field, but the Mountaineer defense didn’t do enough to slow down the Noles once the momentum shifted after the first quarter.

13. SUN BOWL
Oklahoma 31 … Stanford 27
Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles connected on touchdowns from 30, 13, and six yards away, but for all the Oklahoma fireworks and all the records set by both Jones and Broyles, Stanford wouldn’t go away. Heisman runner-up Toby Gerhart ran for 135 yards and scored twice, running for a 19-yarder and falling on a fumble in the second, but he was held in check for most of the game outside of one big run. With the game tied at 24 late in the third, OU took the lead for good on a one-yard DeMarco Murray run for a 31-24 advantage. Stanford managed a field goal to pull within four, but the final two drives stalled.
Player of the Game: Oklahoma QB Landry Jones completed 30-of-51 passes for 418 yards and three touchdowns with an interception, and WR Ryan Broyles caught 13 passes for 156 yards and three touchdowns , and returned four punts for 47 yards
Stanford: Passing: Tavita Pritchard, 8-19, 117 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Toby Gerhart, 32-135, 2 TD, Receiving: Ryan Whalen, 3-65
Oklahoma: Passing: Landry Jones, 30-51, 418 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Chris Brown, 12-46, Receiving: Ryan Broyles, 13-156, 3 TD
What It All Means: This was a strange game for Oklahoma to use to go forward. Getting a bowl win was nice, even if it wasn’t a BCS game, and Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles put on a show and should form a deadly combination in the Big 12 next year, but where was the running game? That’s been a problem all season long, and the offensive line needs work before OU can be special again, but against an average Stanford run defense the ground game only came up with 59 yards. The defense had a strong game even though Toby Gerhart ran for 135 yards; Ryan Reynolds played extremely well making 12 tackles and getting good pressure into the backfield.
What It All Means: Would Andrew Luck have made the difference? Tavita Pritchard wasn’t awful, but Stanford has to be wondering if having its starting quarterback would’ve an extra five points. At the very least, Toby Gerhart would’ve had a little more room to move and wouldn’t have been so bottled up. That the Cardinal was in the game late despite so many problems moving the ball, and so many problems getting the OU off the field, showed how resourceful the team was all season long. The offensive line did a nice job against a far more talented Oklahoma defensive front, but it still wasn’t enough to overcome the problems in the secondary.