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Thread: Latest NCAA Footbal News

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    Latest NCAA Footbal News

    New kids on the block

    North Dakota State, Sam Houston State vying for first FCS title

    Amy Farnum,

    Last Updated - January 4, 2012 11:18 GMT

    For the fourth consecutive year, the FCS will crown a new champion, but the two finalists are not just vying for the title and a trophy. North Dakota State and Sam Houston State are setting the groundwork for the future of their programs.
    The Bison have a rich football tradition with eight titles at the Division II level, but are looking to make their mark as a FCS program since making the transition in 2008.
    Making the jump did not come without a few mediocre seasons. The Bison went 6-5 in 2008, and only won three games in '09 before the program made its first FCS playoff appearance last season. While NDSU lost to eventual national champion Eastern Washington in the quarterfinals, the Bison knew the pieces of the puzzle were coming together to build the program into a national contender in Division I.

    Thats what we’re trying to start here -- a dynasty at Sam Houston State. We want to keep this thing rolling.
    -- Sam Houston State QB Brian Bell

    NDSU senior receiver Warren Holloway arrived in Fargo at the beginning of the Bison’s climb to the pinnacle of FCS football.
    “When I came up here, I felt that people care about football as much as they do in Texas,” said Holloway, a native of Houston. “We’ve had good years, we’ve had bad years … sometimes we weren’t even eligible to make the playoffs. To end my career on this kind of note is a good feeling.”
    Holloway is one of eight senior starters that have seen NDSU raise its level of competition during their tenure, but with 12 starting sophomores and redshirt-freshmen on the depth chart, the Bison’s run may be only beginning under seventh-year head coach Craig Bohl.
    For Sam Houston State, the rise from mediocrity has been even quicker -- going from 6-5 last season to a 14-0 mark entering the FCS Championship Game. In head coach Willie Fritz's first season at the helm of the Bearkats, he had just five seniors -- and only two of those started. With almost the whole team returning this season, Fritz knew the program had potential to do great things and he told them so.
    “I think we started believing that we could be really special at the end of last year when Coach Fritz brought us into a team meeting after we didn’t make the playoffs,” SHSU sophomore quarterback Brian Bell said. “It was the week of the semifinals and he talked about how teams were still playing. He wrote three words up on the board -- average (6-5), good (8-3) and great (10-1). He circled average and said that’s what we were this year boys, and he crossed out good and said we’re going to skip good and go straight to great next year. That gave us some motivation, although right at that moment we thought he was crazy.”
    Fritz credits the continuity of both the coaching staff and team roster, combined with good depth and only a few injuries for the Bearkats' surge to the top. And, with so many young players at key skill positions -- Bell, sophomore running back Tim Flanders and multi-talented sophomore Richard Sincere -- Sam Houston State players may be focused on the present, but are hopeful toward the future.
    “If playing for a national championship becomes a regular habit, that’s definitely a good thing,” Bell said. “That’s what we’re trying to start here -- a dynasty at Sam Houston State. We want to keep this thing rolling.”
    Before any dynasties are built, Saturday’s No. 1 vs. No. 2 match-up is sure to entertain. The game features the nation's two top-scoring defenses. NDSU is giving up only 13.2 points per game, while SHSU follows closely behind at 14.8. Both squads also rank in the top five nationally in turnover margin per game (SHSU plus-2, NDSU plus-1.3).

    “I think both defenses are extremely explosive,” Bohl said. “They've been excellent at creating takeaways. I really think that's going to be the balance of the game, is the turnover margin. Without question, everybody says offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships. We're going to find out who wins the championship here.”

    But don’t count out the offenses. North Dakota State is on the verge of having two 1,000-yard rushers and a 1,000-yard receiver for the first time in school history, while Sam Houston State boasts the nation’s top scoring offense with 39.1 points per game while showcasing its version of the Wildcat formation.
    “We'll have some wrinkles that we're going to show when we play that we haven't shown this season,” Fritz said. “They're going to do the same thing to us. They may try to play things a little bit differently than maybe they've shown in the past, whatever the case may be. It comes down to adjustments.”
    No matter which team captures the trophy, the game definitely bwill e a win for the FCS. With Sam Houston State only three hours from the championship site of FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas, and North Dakota State’s rabid fan base, the NCAA announced the game was a sellout before the new year. The tournament is projected to exceed 250,000 attendees, blowing away the previous attendance record of 209,761, set in 1994.
    “I think you're seeing an emerging product with FCS football,” Bohl said. “We had a huge outpouring of support during the playoff run. We sold out all our home games. The national recognition that NDSU received was outstanding. I think it's an exclamation point when you go in, it's three weeks out, and a game like this is already sold out. I think that gives a great deal of credence and how important this ballgame is to a lot of people.”
    “This is going to be great where we have the stadium packed,” Fritz said. “It's a tough ticket to get. I think both teams deserve this. North Dakota has had a sensational year; so have we.”

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    Michigan slips by Virginia Tech

    QB Robinson hits WR Hemingway for two TDs in OT victory
    The Associated Press
    Last Updated - January 4, 2012 10:27 GMT

    Michigan WR Martavious Odoms celebrates with WR Junior Hemingway after he caught a touchdown pass in the Sugar Bowl.

    NEW ORLEANS -- Brendan Gibbons drilled a 37-yard field goal down the middle in overtime to lift No. 13 Michigan to a 23-20 victory against 17th-ranked Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday night.
    The victory capped an impressive debut season for head coach Brady Hoke, who has led the Wolverines (11-2) back to prominence with a BCS bowl victory. Denard Robinson highlighted an otherwise unspectacular night with touchdown passes of 45 and 18 yards to game MVP Junior Hemingway.
    "It shows our hard work," Hemingway said, his voice cracking with emotion. "It shows everything we put in from day one, all the long days, long nights. Man, I'm telling you, it feels too good, man. Too good.''

    Virginia Tech (11-3) had more than double Michigan's total yards, 377-184, and had 22 first downs to Michigan's 12 but settled for four field goals in regulation by third-string kicker Justin Myer.
    However, Myer was unable to connect on his fifth try from 37 yards away in the opening possession of overtime.
    Robinson finished 9 for 21 for 117 yards passing and threw an interception. He rushed 13 times for a season-low 13 yards.
    Virginia Tech first-year start Logan Thomas was 19 of 28 of 214 yards with one interception.
    Thomas scored Tech's only touchdown on a 1-yard keeper that tied the game at 17 -- after a 2-point conversion -- early in the fourth quarter.
    Virginia Tech senior receiver Danny Coale, who ranks second all-time for the Hokies in catches and yards receiving, had eight catches for 117 yards, and nearly made a spectacular diving catch for a touchdown in overtime. Coale held on to the ball for what was initially ruled a score, but the play was overturned on video review, which showed the receiver narrowly landed on the sideline.
    The result of that third-down play forced Tech to try for Myer's failed field goal.
    Michigan then used three conservative runs to set up Gibbons in the middle of the field. As his kick sailed through, Gibbons sprinted toward the Michigan sidelined and was mobbed by teammates while the Michigan band belted out the school's famous fight song, "The Victors," while Michigan fans, in rhythm, thrust a sea of maize pom-poms in the air.
    First Downs 12 22
    Rushing 56 163
    Passing 128 214

    Virginia Tech fell behind late in regulation after gambling on a fake punt. Michigan's Jake Ryan stopped it at the Tech 45, leading to a short drive that set up Gibbons' go-ahead 39-yard field goal with 4 minutes left.
    That was just enough time for the Hokies to tie it once more, even though they had to start at their own 9 after a holding penalty on the kickoff.
    Thomas marched the Hokies 83 yards in 3:58, setting up Myer's game-tying 25-yarder.
    It was the fourth field goal of the game for Myer, who until a couple weeks ago was the third-string place kicker.
    Primary place kicker Cody Journell didn't make the trip after his arrest in an alleged home invasion, then backup Tyler Weiss was sent home from New Orleans because of a curfew violation.
    So place kicking duties fell to Myer, who had missed his only two attempts during the regular season but was perfect in the Sugar Bowl.
    Hemingway staked Michigan to a 17-6 lead in the third quarter when he skied over Tech's Antone Exum for an 18-yard catch from Robinson in the back of the end zone. The scoring drive was set up by an even more difficult grab by reserve Michigan linebacker Frank Clark, who leaped and reached high over his head to snag Thomas' hard-thrown pass at close range, returning the interception to the Tech 35-yard line.
    Tech cut it to 17-9 on Myer's 36-yard field goal.
    Tech then tied the game on a series kept alive by Thomas' 13-yard scramble on fourth and 11 from the Michigan 35. A few plays later, Thomas powered in from a yard out, then lobbed a short pass to Marcus Davis for a 2-point conversion to even the score at 17 early in the fourth quarter.
    Virginia Tech dominated most of the first half, taking a 6-0 lead on Myer's field goals of 37 and 43 yards, and could have led by more had the Michigan defensive line not stuffed Thomas on a quarterback keeper on fourth-and-1 on the Wolverines 4.
    Michigan managed only one first down before stalling again at its own 26, but the Hokies' James Hopper was flagged for roughing punter Matt Wile on a failed block attempt, giving the Wolverines a first down on their 41.
    Robinson, yanked his leg from a defender's grasp and unleashed a long throw off of his back foot while scrambling to his right. Virgnia Tech free safety Eddie Whitley tried to undercut intended receiver Hemingway and snag the interception, but mistimed his leap by a split second. That allowed Hemingway to make the grab with no one between him and the end zone, and the play went for a 45-yard score.
    Having been shut out most of the first half, Michigan suddenly had a 7-6 lead, then got the ball right back on the ensuing kickoff when Tech's Tony Gregory fumble the return when he was hit by J.B. Fitzgerald and Michigan's Delonte Hollowell recovered at the Hokies 26.
    Michigan failed to get a first down the conventional way and set up for what would have been a 36-yard field goal if it hadn't turned into one of the wackier plays of the bowl season instead.
    Unable to get a clean snap and hold, Drew Dileo threw just a moment before being slammed flat on his back by Tech's Jack Tyler. The ball thrown to no one in particular looked like it was about to be intercepted by the Hokies' Kyle Fuller when he was bumped by a teammate. Fuller wound up tipping the ball in the air and it was caught by long snapper Jareth Glanda for a first down on the Tech 8.
    Michigan didn't have time to convert that stroke of luck into six, but was able to line up a chip shot field goal as time ran out for a 10-6 halftime lead.

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    Oklahoma St. slips by Stanford in OT

    Missed field goals at end of regulation, overtime doom Cardinal

    The Associated Press

    Last Updated - January 3, 2012 1:10 GMT

    Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon hooked up for three TDs as Oklahoma State topped Stanford 41-38 in the Fiesta Bowl.

    GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Brandon Weeden threw for 399 yards and fired three touchdowns to Justin Blackmon in his final collegiate game, and Quinn Sharp hit a 22-yard field goal in overtime to give Oklahoma State a 41-38 victory against Andrew Luck and Stanford in a wildly entertaining Fiesta Bowl on Monday night.
    The most anticipated postseason game outside of the BCS championship, the Fiesta Bowl was an impressive offensive show, with two of the nation’s best teams trading big plays and scores.

    Oklahoma State (12-1) had the last one on Sharp’s game-winner to win in its first BCS bowl game, earning a chance to stake claim at being No. 1 in The Associated Press poll should Alabama beat LSU in the BCS title game.
    Stanford (11-2) had a chance to win in regulation, but Jordan Williamson hooked a 35-yard field goal wide left as time expired. He also missed from 43 yards in overtime.
    Usually balanced Oklahoma State had just 15 yards rushing on 13 carries, but Weeden made up for it, completing 29 of 42 passes and the three scores to Blackmon, who had eight catches for 186 yards.
    After the game, Blackmon said he will skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft.
    Weeden did his best to keep up with Luck, who hit 27 of 31 passes for 347 yards and two touchdowns in his final game before heading to the NFL. Stepfan Taylor ran for 177 yards and a pair of scores, and the Cardinal had 590 yards -- nearly 200 more than Oklahoma State -- but lost a chance for their second consecutive BCS bowl victory after Williamson’s two misses.
    Stanford was the only team to live up to the billing in the early going.
    Manhandling Oklahoma State’s defense up front, the Cardinal had 225 yards by early in the second quarter and led 14-0 after Luck hit Ty Montgomery on a 53-yard touchdown pass and Jeremy Stewart ran for a 24-yard score.
    Oklahoma State’s offense was stranded in the desert early: Weeden threw an interception on his first pass, the Cowboys had 27 yards while failing to score in the opening quarter for the first time this season and Blackmon was nowhere to be found.
    That changed in the second quarter -- and quickly.
    Blackmon caught his first pass by splitting the middle of Stanford’s defense for a 43-yard touchdown catch, then showed off his power on the next, brushing off a defender before racing for a 67-yard touchdown that tied it 14-all.
    No. 3 Oklahoma State 41, No. 4 Stanford 38 (OT)
    No. 6 Oregon 45, No. 9 Wisconsin 38
    No. 10 South Carolina 30, No. 21 Nebaska 13
    No. 12 Michigan State 33, No. 18 Georgia 30 (3OT)
    No. 20 Houston 30, No. 24 Penn State 14
    Florida 24, Ohio State 17
    Two big catches, 110 yards and the offensive show was on.
    Stanford answered with an 80-yard drive in eight plays, capped by Taylor’s 4-yard touchdown run. The Cardinal left too much time, though, and the Cowboys raced down the field for Weeden’s first career rushing touchdown, an ugly-but-effective 2-yarder that made it 21-all at halftime.
    Stanford opened the second half with a yard-churning drive for a 6-yard touchdown pass from Luck to Zach Ertz to put the Cardinal up 28-21.
    Oklahoma State had a great opportunity after recovering Geoff Meinken’s fumble at Stanford’s 4-yard line, but had to settle for a field goal. After a Stanford field goal, Weeden found Blackmon for a third time, on a 17-yard crossing pass that tied the game at 31.
    Taylor put Stanford up 38-31 with 4 1/2 minutes left, ducking behind Stanford’s massive offensive line for a 1-yard touchdown. Oklahoma State answered quickly, moving 67 yards in less than two minutes to tie it on Joseph Randle’s 4-yard touchdown run.
    Luck seemingly had the Cardinal in position after moving 63 yards, but Williamson couldn’t come through, sending the game to overtime, where the Cowboys celebrated by mobbing each other in front of the OSU student section.

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    Ducks win first Rose Bowl in 95 years

    No. 6 Oregon totals 621 yards to win shootout against Wisconsin

    The Associated Press

    Last Updated - January 3, 2012 1:10 GMT

    PASADENA, Calif. -- Oregon’s incredible offense busted up Wisconsin and the record books on the way to the Ducks’ first Rose Bowl victory in 95 years.
    Darron Thomas passed for three touchdowns, De’Anthony Thomas scored on runs of 91 and 64 yards, and the No. 6 Ducks earned their first bowl victory under coach Chip Kelly, holding off Wisconsin 45-38 Monday night in the highest-scoring Rose Bowl ever played.

    And it wasn’t over until a video review confirmed the Badgers (11-3) ran out of time at the Oregon 25, out of timeouts and unable to spike the ball in time to stop the clock for a last-gasp fling.
    Lavasier Tuinei caught eight passes for 158 yards and two TDs for the Ducks (12-2), who had no postseason success to show for Kelly’s otherwise wildly successful three-year tenure until this landmark offensive performance in the 98th Rose Bowl. Oregon hadn’t won the West Coast’s biggest game since 1917.
    “It’s been 95 years since you could say: Oregon Ducks, Rose Bowl champions,” Kelly said after the Ducks held Wisconsin scoreless in the fourth quarter.
    "The Granddaddy of Them All" had never seen this many points, beating the record 80 scored by Washington and Iowa in 1991.
    With the Ducks wearing mirrored helmets and playing at their usual frantic pace, Oregon racked up 621 total yards, just shy of the Rose Bowl record.
    Montee Ball rushed for 122 of his 164 yards in the first half for the Badgers (11-3), who lost the Rose Bowl for the second consecutive year despite managing 508 yards of their own. Ball tied Barry Sanders’ FBS record with his 39th touchdown of the season, while Russell Wilson passed for 296 yards and two scores.
    “This team showed what Oregon football is all about,” said linebacker Kiko Alonso, named the game’s top defensive player after getting a key interception.
    Wisconsin had two drives to tie it after Oregon kicked a field goal with 6:50 to play, but Jared Abbrederis fumbled near the Oregon sideline after making a long catch. The ball plopped onto the turf without even bouncing, and Oregon’s Michael Clay jumped on it with 4:06 left.
    That video review went the Ducks’ way, too.
    The Badgers had burned two timeouts early in the second half, so Oregon was able to run the clock down to 23 seconds before punting.
    Wilson connected on two long passes, but the officials went to video review after the clock went to zeros as Wilson rushed his team to the Oregon 25 with two seconds left, waited for the ball to be set, then took the snap and spiked the ball.
    But the Badgers took too long. The officials ruled time had indeed expired, and the Ducks sprinted onto the field to the frenzied cheers of their outnumbered fans.
    The Ducks and Badgers produced the highest-scoring first quarter (14-14) and first half (28-28) in Rose Bowl history, eventually surpassing the 80 scored in Washington’s 46-34 win over Iowa in 1991. Oregon’s yardage fell just short of USC’s 633 yards against Illinois in 2008.
    Sure, Baylor’s 67-56 win against Washington in the Alamo Bowl last Thursday might have packed bigger sheer numbers. But Wisconsin and Oregon commanded a much bigger stage -- and the Ducks unleashed every bit of their formidable offensive power.
    Tuinei was named the Ducks’ offensive player of the game, but their flashiest star in those futuristic helmets was De’Anthony Thomas, the freshman from Los Angeles who showed off his electrifying athleticism on the longest scoring run in Rose Bowl history in the second quarter, going 91 yards up the middle. He added a mere 64-yard scoring run in the opening minute of the second half as Oregon won the matchup of the last two losers of the Rose Bowl.
    Wisconsin lost 21-19 to TCU last season, and the Ducks lost to Ohio State two years ago before losing the BCS title game last year.
    “It almost felt like there was some sort of magical force keeping us from getting it done in bowl games,” Oregon guard Carson York said. “Glad we did it today.”
    LaMichael James rushed for 159 yards and an early TD in his likely college finale for the Ducks, while De’Anthony Thomas finished with 155 yards. Kenjon Barner also caught a touchdown pass from Darron Thomas.
    Abbrederis and Nick Toon caught touchdown passes for Wisconsin, and defensive end Louis Nzegwu returned a fumble 33 yards for a score in the second quarter.
    In the second half, the Ducks even slowed Ball. The Heisman Trophy finalist started strong in what’s likely his final college game, even hurdling Oregon safety John Boyett in what’s sure to be a big YouTube hit, but he had just three carries for no yards in the fourth quarter.
    Both teams won their respective conferences’ first-ever league title games to earn this trip to Pasadena. Although the Ducks’ drought was generations longer, Wisconsin hasn’t won in Pasadena since Jan. 1, 2000, when Ron Dayne led the Badgers to back-to-back Rose Bowl titles.
    Oregon quickly debunked the theory that teams with extra time to prepare for the Ducks’ inventive offense have a better chance to stop it. The Ducks were 1-4 in bowl games and season openers under Kelly until they carved up Wisconsin with the second-biggest yardage performance in Rose Bowl history.
    Wisconsin set the tone from its opening drive, going 77 yards in seven plays for Abbrederis’ wide-open 38-yard TD catch just 3:12 in. Ball carried on the Badgers’ first four snaps, and play-action set up the pass—two themes that dominated Wisconsin’s game plan.
    Oregon answered with an 80-yard drive in just 2:07, culminating in James’ 1-yard TD run. Wisconsin scored again on Wilson’s 4-yard run before the teams finally traded punts, but De’Anthony Thomas broke through the Wisconsin line and sprinted down the Oregon sideline for a 91-yard score, surpassing Tyrone Wheatley’s bowl-record 88-yard run in 1993 and capping the second-longest scoring drive in Rose Bowl history at 95 yards with Oregon’s longest run all season.
    Darron Thomas
    Oregon | QB | Sr.
    17-23-1 268 3

    Wisconsin opened the second quarter with Ball’s record-tying run, but Darron Thomas found Barner open down the seam for a 54-yard score on Oregon’s next play. Both defenses then got a brief chance to shine: The Ducks stopped Wisconsin on fourth down inside the Oregon 20, but blitzing Wisconsin linebacker Mike Taylor forced Darron Thomas’ fumble moments later, and Nzegwu scooped and scored.
    Oregon calmly answered with Tuinei’s 3-yard touchdown catch with 30 seconds left. The teams’ 56 combined points surpasses the record 45 scored by Wisconsin and UCLA in 1999.
    De’Anthony Thomas’ 64-yard touchdown run put Oregon ahead, and the Ducks then held Wisconsin to a mere field goal—but the Badgers’ defense forced a punt, and Wilson made several heady plays on the way to an 18-yard touchdown pass to Toon.
    The quarterbacks traded interceptions. Then Darron Thomas found Tuinei for his second score just 25 seconds into the fourth quarter, putting the Ducks ahead to stay.

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    Michigan State wins overtime thriller

    Spartans block final field-goal attempt to clinch Outback Bowl

    The Associated Press

    Last Updated - January 3, 2012 1:10 GMT

    AP Images
    AP Images

    Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell scores a touchdown in the final minute of regulation to force overtime in the Spartans' 33-30 win.

    TAMPA, Fla. -- Down a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining and a long way to go, Kirk Cousins found a way to give Michigan State a parting gift.
    A cornerstone of coach Mark Dantonio’s rebuilding project, Cousins led a late rally in the fourth quarter and Dan Conroy kicked a 28-yard field goal in the third overtime to lift the 12th-ranked Spartans against the No. 18 Bulldogs 33-30 Monday in the Outback Bowl.

    Michigan State (11-3) ended a five-game bowl losing streak with its first postseason win since beating Fresno State in the 2001 Silicon Valley Bowl.
    To do it, the Spartans -- who had been 0-4 in bowl games under Dantonio -- overcame a 16-0 halftime deficit and scored the tying touchdown with 14 seconds left in regulation.
    “All week, all month, really, there was a sense of urgency in our preparation because the fact that for me as a senior, this was the last shot. Certainly all game long we felt that same way,” said Cousins, who completed 27 of 50 passes for 300 yards and was intercepted three times.
    He was at his best during the tying 10-play, 85-yard drive in the closing minutes.
    “And at halftime we had our doubts because of how successful their defense was in stopping us. … But we found a way. It wasn’t perfect, but we certainly showed character, and that’s what I’m most proud of,” Cousins added. “We played with a great deal of maturity and toughness, and we weren’t afraid. We didn’t back down, and we found a way at the end. And that’s what great teams do.”
    Georgia’s Blair Walsh became the Southeastern Conference’s career scoring leader with a field goal in the second extra period. But he missed a 42-yarder in the first overtime after conservative play-calling and had a 47-yard attempt blocked on the final play of the game.
    The Spartans handed the Big Ten its lone win in three bowl matchups Monday against SEC opponents -- Florida beat Ohio State and South Carolina stopped Nebraska.
    “Big win against a great football team, against an SEC team, against a team that won their division and that was 10-2 in the regular season. … There’s not a football team that we cannot play with and not win against. We’ve done that,” Dantonio said.
    “We’ve beaten every football team in the Big Ten in the last four years. The standard has been set by our seniors. … Two 11-win seasons, There’s not too many football teams in the country that are saying that right now. I would think that this, hopefully, helps solidify a top-10 ranking in this year’s final polls.”
    [TABLE="class: inline-left, width: 250"]

    Georgia (10-4) finished on a two-game losing streak, including a lopsided loss to top-ranked LSU in the SEC championship game. The Bulldogs beat Michigan State in the 2009 Capital One Bowl, one of four bowl losses the Spartans had under Dantonio during their stretch of postseason futility.
    Cousins guided the Spartans on their late drive without the aid of any timeouts, and Le’Veon Bell’s second touchdown of the game wiped out a 27-20 deficit. Cousins threw a 7-yard TD pass to Keith Nichol midway through the period and finished the day as Michigan State’s career passing and total offense leader.
    The senior from Holland, Mich., was intercepted in the first overtime, giving the ball to Georgia. After the Bulldogs had a short run on their first play in overtime, coach Mark Richt elected to simply center the ball for a field goal try on third down, and Walsh’s kick was wide.
    “It just went a little bit to the right. I don’t know what pulled it that way,” said Walsh, who moved ahead of Billy Bennett on the SEC career scoring list with 412 points when his 47-yarder that gave Georgia a 30-27 lead in the second overtime. “I’d trade all the points I could to just have three points [at the end] for us. I mean that.”
    The Spartans’ comeback overshadowed a standout performance by Georgia’s Mr. Everything, Brandon Boykin. The cornerback scored a safety, returned a punt 92 yards for a touchdown and caught a 13-yard TD pass that helped the Bulldogs take a late lead that one of the nation’s stingiest defenses couldn’t protect down the stretch.
    Aaron Murray was 20 of 32 for 288 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for Georgia. Back home and playing in a stadium a few miles from where he and Bulldogs teammate Orson Charles also starred in high school for Tampa Plant, the redshirt sophomore an 80-yard scoring pass to Tavarres King, who had six receptions for 205 yards.
    Both teams entered the game coming off losses in their conference championship games.
    The Bulldogs began their year with losses to Boise State and South Carolina before rebounding to win the final 10 games of the regular season. Georgia led top-ranked LSU early in the SEC title game before being dominated over the last three quarters to lose a shot at a spot in a Bowl Championship Series game.
    Michigan State was impressive, too, in recovering from an early-season loss to Notre Dame to finish with at least 10 wins in consecutive seasons for the first time in the program’s 115-year history. Cousins leaves as the winningest quarterback in school history with 27, and 37 wins for the Spartans’ outgoing senior class is a school record, too.
    Kirk Cousins
    Michigan State | QB | Sr.
    27-50-3 300 1

    Boykin tackled Keshawn Martin in the end zone for a safety on Michigan State’s first offensive play, converging on the receiver at almost the same time as Cousins’ side screen. The 2-0 lead stood for Georgia until Murray made his long TD throw to King, who settled under the perfectly thrown pass at the Spartans 25 and never broke stride to get into the end zone.
    Less than two minutes later, Boykin brought Georgia fans to their feet when he settled under Mike Sadler’s punt at his own 8-yard line and retreated to the 5 before cutting back toward the middle of the field, finding his way through a maze of defenders and outrunning the pursuit to score on the longest punt return in Outback Bowl history.
    Boykin’s second TD, finishing a five-play, 81-yard drive fueled by Murray’s 53-yard completion to King, put Georgia up 25-20. Murray’s 2-point conversion pass to Malcolm Mitchell gave the Bulldogs a 7-point advantage before Cousins went to work and revived Michigan State’s hopes.
    The Spartans were limited to two first downs and just 72 yards total offense to trail 16-0 at the half. Cousins finally got them on track after the first of Darqueze Dennard’s two interceptions set up a nine-play, 48-yard drive that Bell finished with an 8-yard touchdown run.
    Dennard’s 38-yard interception return for a touchdown threw Michigan State within 16-14, and Cousins’ TD pass to Nichol gave the Spartans a short-lived 20-19 lead.
    Boykin had 183 all-purpose yards, including four kickoff returns for 70 yards and eight yards rushing on two carries. The senior said he’d trade of all his production if the Bulldogs had been able to finish off Michigan State.
    “Of course I’m upset right now that we lost and I’ll never get to play a college game again,” Boykin said. “Without a doubt, I’d take away my performance if we can get a victory.”

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    South Carolina routs Nebraska

    Shaw tosses two TDs as Gamecocks win 11 games for first time
    The Associated Press
    Last Updated - January 2, 2012 5:21 GMT

    ORLANDO, Fla. -- Alshon Jeffery had 148 yards and a touchdown before getting tossed out of the game for fighting and No. 11 South Carolina's defense had six sacks and shut out No. 21 Nebraska in the final three quarters of 30-13 win at the Capital One Bowl on Monday.

    The victory gave South Carolina (11-2) 11 wins for the first time in school history and snapped a string of three consecutive bowl losses.

    Nebraska (9-4) lost its second consecutive bowl game and drops to 12-6 all-time in bowl matchups against SEC foes.

    It was the school's first bowl game without Paterno as head coach since the 1962 Gator Bowl, a 17-7 loss to Florida.

    Both teams lost standout players in the third quarter when Jeffery, playing weeks after surgery on his hand, and Cornhuskers cornerback Alfonso Dennard were ejected for throwing punches at each other after a play.

    But the Gamecocks kept the pressure on even without him and went up 23-13 with 12:25 to play on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Shaw to Kenny Miles. Miles then added a 3-yard touchdown run with just over three minutes left -- his first of the season -- to put the game out of reach.

    Jeffery out-jumped the Nebraska secondary in the end zone to catch a 51-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass from Shaw at the end of the first half to send the Gamecocks into the locker room with a 16-13 lead.

    Shaw passed for 161 yards in the half, hooking up with Jeffery on four of his five completions. Shaw finished the game 11 for 17 for 230 yards and ran for 42 yards and a touchdown.
    Connor Shaw
    South Carolina | QB | So.
    11-17-0 230 2

    It helped pick up the slack for a stagnant South Carolina rushing attack, which produced just 58 yards on 21 attempts.

    It also made up for an offensive line that allowed Shaw to be sacked three times in the opening 30 minutes.

    The Gamecocks led 9-6, but kept a Cornhuskers' drive alive late in the first quarter after picking up a third down, 15-yard face mask penalty. Nebraska scored three plays later on a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Ameer Abdullah.

    Nebraska needed just 56 seconds to score the game's first touchdown when Martinez found receiver Kenny Bell for a 30-yard touchdown pass.

    South Carolina defensive tackle Travian Robertson blocked the extra point, though, and Stephon Gilmore scooped it up and returned it for the 2-point defensive PAT.

    The Gamecocks offensive kept the momentum going on their ensuing drive, capping an 11-play, 55-yard drive with a fourth down, goal line quarterback sneak by Shaw.

  7. #7
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    Re: Latest News

    Florida claims Gator Bowl

    Gators score two special-teams touchdowns to defeat Ohio State
    The Associated Press
    Last Updated - January 4, 2012 8:40 GMT

    Florida running back Chris Rainey carries the ball in Florida's 24-17 win against Ohio State in the Gator Bowl on Monday.

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Florida’s Jaye Howard timed the snap perfectly, blew through two defenders and violently slammed Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller to the ground.
    “I had a lot of frustrations, man,” Howard said. “Urban brought it out in me today.”

    Urban Meyer’s future team got a good look at his former team, and the Buckeyes learned just how fast the Gators can be.
    Florida’s defense and special teams came up big in the Gator Bowl, recording six sacks and scoring twice as the Gators beat Ohio State 24-17 on Monday.
    Andre Debose returned a kickoff 99 yards -- the longest scoring play in bowl history -- and Chris Rainey blocked a punt that was returned for a touchdown.
    The speedsters helped the Gators (7-6) avoid their first losing season since 1979 and pick up some much-needed momentum after losing six of their previous eight games.
    “We don’t want to be remembered as the team that lost, so it was a big game for us,” Howard said. “Not only for the seniors, but the program as a whole. It’s a building block for next year.”
    Ohio State (6-7) dropped four consecutive to finish below .500 for the first time since 1988, and lost seven games for the first time since 1897.
    The Buckeyes can take solace in knowing that Meyer, who officially takes over for interim coach Luke Fickell at Ohio State this week, will make it a priority to improve special teams. Meyer did that in his six seasons in Gainesville, and Rainey and Debose were two of his most prized recruits.
    “When you have two good teams play each other, it’s usually special teams that will make the difference,” Ohio State defensive back Tyler Moeller said. “That’s what it was today.”
    Ohio State fell to 0-10 in bowl games against teams from the Southeastern Conference. Yes, the Buckeyes beat Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl last year. But that victory was vacated as part of NCAA sanctions.

    The latest loss had everything to do with Florida’s speed.
    The Gators dominated the defensive line of scrimmage. They had a season-high six sacks, harassing Braxton Miller on nearly every passing play. Howard and Sharrif Floyd were disruptive all afternoon.
    Florida had similar success the last time it played Ohio State. The Gators were dominant on defense in a 41-14 win in the 2007 Bowl Championship Series national title game in Glendale, Ariz. Meyer was coaching Florida that night.
    Debose and Rainey proved to be the difference in the much-hyped rematch that centered around Meyer.
    Just after Ohio State tied the game at 7 on Miller’s 5-yard pass to DeVier Posey in the second quarter, Debose took the kickoff, made one cut to the outside and went untouched for his third career kickoff return for a touchdown. The Buckeyes never got close enough to even swipe at him, let alone make the tackle.
    “It meant a lot to me,” Debose said. “I just tried to do anything that I can do to help the team. … There is no feeling like it.”
    Florida was up 14-10 at halftime and essentially put the game out of reach on the opening possession of the third.
    Rainey came off the left end and blocked Ben Buchanan’s punt. Seldom-used linebacker Graham Stewart scooped it up at the 14-yard line and scored the first touchdown of his career.
    It was Rainey’s sixth blocked punt of his career, breaking the school and SEC record.
    Rainey also ran for 71 yards on a warm and sunny day in Jacksonville. John Brantley completed 12 of 16 passes for 132 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He had a 17-yard strike to Deonte Thompson in the first.
    Ohio State wasn’t nearly as effective.
    Miller completed 18 of 23 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran 15 times for 20 yards. He completed an 11-yard TD pass to Jordan Hall with 57 seconds remaining. The Buckeyes failed to recover an onside kick, and Florida ran out the clock for its sixth bowl victory in the last seven years, including four in a row.
    Players doused Muschamp with ice water in the final seconds, but the coach later made it clear his team still has strides to make to get back to national prominence.

    “The realization of this whole thing, if you want to see big pictures, in the last two years at the University of Florida, we’re 15-11, that’s unacceptable,” Muschamp said. “That’s what we are. … We’re one game [better than] last year. Sometimes I think you’ve got to put your realistic glasses on [to see] where you are as a program right at this point.
    “It’s not where we’re going to be very long. I can assure you of that. Moving in the right direction.”
    Ohio State has building blocks, too. Miller, a freshman, gives Meyer an experienced and improving quarterback for next season even though the Buckeyes won’t be bowl eligible.
    “This whole season was a learning process,” Miller said. “I learned as the season went on. I could have played better. I’m anxious to get going for next year.”

  8. #8
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    Re: Latest News

    Keenum, Cougars pound Penn State

    Houston slices up Nittany Lions’ 10th-ranked defense

    Last Updated - January 4, 2012 8:52 GMT

    WR Patrick Edwards hauled in nine catches for 227 yards vs. Penn State, helping Houston finish the year 13-1.

    DALLAS -- Penn State's tumultuous year ended with a 30-14 loss to Houston in the TicketCity Bowl on Monday, a dispiriting finish to a season in which coach Joe Paterno was fired as part of a child sex-abuse scandal that shook college sports.
    The 24th-ranked Nittany Lions were picked apart by Cougars star Case Keenum, who threw for 532 yards and three touchdowns. Penn State was allowing 162 yards passing per game, but Keenum threw for more than double that by halftime.
    "I thought the guys came out and they played hard. It's been a difficult year for them," Penn State interim coach Tom Bradley said. "It just didn't go our way."
    Keenum burned the Nittany Lions' veteran secondary with touchdown passes of 40 and 75 yards to build a 24-7 lead by halftime.
    It was the school's first bowl game without Paterno as head coach since the 1962 Gator Bowl, a 17-7 loss to Florida.

    The Hall of Famer was fired Nov. 9 in the aftermath of the shocking charges against retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Longtime defensive coordinator Bradley took over on an interim basis, tasked with guiding a team besieged by media scrutiny.
    "These kids have been through hell and back," said assistant coach Jay Paterno, Joe's son.
    Bypassed by more prominent bowls, some Nittany Lions debated whether to travel to Dallas at all, then vowed they were over getting jilted and focused on stopping Houston.
    Turned out Linbacker U. got trampled over by Keenum and Houston's high-octane offense.
    Receiver Patrick Edwards burned safety Macolm Willis for a 40-yard touchdown pass from Keenum down the left sideline for a 7-0 lead just 1:52 into the game that often resembled a one-sided track meet. Keenum hit Justin Johnson for an 8-yard TD pass with 2:35 left for a 17-0 lead.
    Already the NCAA career leader coming into the game for passing yardage and touchdown passes, Keenum added another record to his impressive resume. His 227 first-quarter passing yards set the record for most passing yards in one quarter in any bowl game, breaking the mark previously held by Louisville's Browning Nagle (223 yards) against Alabama in the first quarter of the 1991 Fiesta Bowl, according to TicketCity Bowl officials.
    Penn State All-American defensive tackle Devon Still, already slowed by turf toe, couldn't keep up with Keenum's quick release and Houston's no-huddle attack. The Cougars exploited Penn State's bend-but-don't-break defense across the middle, including Edwards 75-yard touchdown reception up the seam from a scrambling Keenum for a 24-7 lead by halftime.
    Keenum finished 45 of 69 passing -- two fewer attempts than the number of offensive plays Penn State ran all afternoon.
    Down by 20 midway through the third quarter, cornerback Stephon Morris tried to keep his fellow defenders motivated on the bench with high-fives. The struggling offense without injured starting quarterback Matt McGloin provided a glimmer of hope after backup Rob Bolden connected with Justin Brown for a pretty 69-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 27-14 at 2:38 of the third quarter.

    Case Keenum
    Houston | QB | Sr.
    45-69-0 532 3

    Penn State's defense adjusted to hold the Cougars to just two field goals in the second half, but the early deficit proved too much to overcome, and Bolden threw three second-half interceptions -- two by safety Nick Saenz.

    With 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Penn State had already given up 552 yards of total offense to Houston, the most allowed by the Nittany Lions all season.
    This wasn't the lasting impression Bradley wanted to leave on the Penn State committee searching for Paterno's replacement. The outgoing Bradley, who is popular with players, is among the candidates who have been interviewed. Acting athletic director David Joyner has said he hopes to have a new coach in place to give him a few weeks to recruit before Feb. 1, when high school seniors can announce their college choices.
    Bolden finished 7 of 26 passing for 137 yards, while Stephfon Green ran 63 yards on 15 carries including a 6-yard scoring run on a direct snap in the second quarter.
    It was one of the few times the Cougars' D was tricked. After getting upset 49-28 by Southern Mississippi in the Conference USA title game, and lose a chance to play in the BCS, Houston ended the season with an impressive win against a power conference team.
    Edwards finished with 10 catches and 228 yards for two touchdowns, while Johnson had 12 catches for 148 yards at the 92,000-seat Cotton Bowl. The stands were about a half-full on a sunny afternoon that ended with Houston's red-clad fans celebrating in the stands and chanting "Houston."

  9. #9
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    Re: Latest News

    Checking out championship hopefuls

    Get an inside look at SHSU’s top players in the FCS title game

    Last Updated - January 3, 2012 11:13 GMT

    Bell's season and career stats

    • Player you mold your game after: My brother, Shawn Bell
    • Nickname: B-twice
    • Facebook or Twitter: Twitter
    • Mountains or beach: Mountains
    • Favorite actress: Reese Witherspoon
    • Place you'd like to travel to the most: Australia
    • Favorite superhero: Wonder Woman
    • Better golfer or pool player: Golfer
    Which song do you like listening to but are a little embarrased that it's a favorite?
    If I Die Young by The Band Perry
    If you could trade places for a day with any teammate, who and why?
    Matt Foster, because he does nothing all day, every day.
    What is your most memorable football moment to this point?
    Just making a deep run in the playoffs.

    • SHSU season stats behind Crockett's O-line

    • Nickname: Croc
    • Favorite singer/band: Randy Rogers Band
    • Movies or TV: Both
    • Player you mold your game after: Jake Long, Miami Dolphins
    • Last song you heard on you iPod: Buy Myself a Chanceby Randy Rogers Band
    • Last movie you saw: Columbiana
    • Favorite pro athlete: Michael Vick
    • Favorite pro athlete: David Robinson
    What is your most memorable football moment so far in your career?
    Being 14-0 in my senior year.
    Which song do you really like but get a bit embarrassed that it's a favorite?
    I Feel Like a Woman by Shania Twain.
    What actor would play you in a movie about your life?
    Kevin James.

    • DeCambre's season and career stats

    • Player you mold your game after: DeMarcus Ware, Dallas Cowboys
    • Favorite actor: Will Smith
    • Steak or pizza: Steak
    • Last movie you saw: Red
    • Country or city: City
    • Favorite pro athlete: LeBron James
    • Lucky number: 19
    • Last song you heard on your iPod: Jammin' by Bob Marley
    • Better golfer or pool player: Pool player

    How do you plan to celebrate if you win the title?
    By spending time with the people who were with me through the rough times.
    Which actor would play you the best if they made a movie of your life?
    Denzel Washington
    What's your head coach's favorite saying?
    "Don't win the pregame."

    • Flanders' season and career stats

    • Nickname: T-Time
    • Facebook or Twitter: Both, follow me
    • Favorite TV show: Law & Order: SVU
    • Favorite pro athlete: Carmello Anthony
    • Reality TV or comedy: Both
    • Last song you heard on your iPod: The Champ by Nelly
    • Country or city: City ... Midwest City, Okla.
    • Lucky number: 20
    What is the most memorable moment of your football career to this point?
    Two words, "Flanders Flip." (Google it.)
    If you win the title, how do you plan to celebrate?
    Going to Disney World.
    What is your head coach's favorite saying?
    "There are only two things you should be worried about: academics and football."

    • Sincere's season and career stats

    • Nickname: Richie Rich
    • Favorite actor: Martin Lawrence
    • Favorite singer/band: Young Jeezy
    • Lucky Number: 6
    • Favorite pro sports team: Dallas Cowboys
    • Last movie you saw: Rambo
    • Facebook or Twitter: Twitter
    • Mountain or beach: Beach (in Galveston, Texas)
    What is your most memorable football moment?
    Winning the conference title this season.
    If you win the title, what do you plan to do to celebrate it?
    A backflip
    What is your head coach's favorite saying?
    "Squeeze it."

    • SHSU's season stats behind Watson's O-line

    • Play you mold your game after: Jeff Saturday, Indianapolis Colts
    • Favorite actor: Daniel Craig
    • Favorite superhero: Iron Man
    • Favorite TV show: "Sons of Anarchy"
    • Reality TV or comedy: Comedy
    • Last book you read: "The Only Thing Worth Dying For" by Eric Blehm
    • Mountains or Beach: Mountains
    • Place you'd like to travel to the most: Cairo, Egypt
    What is your head coach's favorite saying?
    "This guy couldn't play dead in a Western."
    Who do you really like to listen to but get a bit embarrassed that they're a favorite?
    Taylor Swift
    If you could trade places with any teammate for a day, who and why?
    Tim Flanders, because he always gets the ball.

    • Williams' season and career stats

    • Nickname: Cuddie
    • Player you mold your game after: Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers
    • Last movie you saw: "Mission Impossible"
    • Favorite superhero: The Flash
    • Type of vehicle you drive: Chevy Impala
    • Last song you heard on your iPod: "Someone Like You" by Adele
    • Facebook or Twitter: Twitter
    • Better golfer or pool player: Pool player
    What do you plan to do to celebrate if you win the title?
    Run up and down the field over and over again
    What is your most memorable moment to this point in your football career?
    Scoring two touchdowns in the win against Montana State in the playoffs.
    What is your head coach's favorite saying?
    "Squeeze it."

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