SB Nation College Bowl Pick Em' December 18th Recap

If you would like to know when an update is posted about the College Bowl Pick Em' game, follow me on Twitter. I'll be tweeting the link to each update.

SB Nation College Bowl Pick Em' had 135 people sign up. Although the slogan says "Don't sign up if you're not going to play," 21 people did not pick any games. We can theoretically now elimnate them leaving 114 people actually playing the game.

Of those 114, only 17 people correctly picked BYU over UTEP, Northern Illinois over Fresno State, and Troy over Ohio. That includes our leader, FlaGators. FlaGators is leader due to not only him correctly picking all three games, but having them in high confidence. He had a Troy win at a confidence of 30, Northern Illinois at a confidence of 29 and BYU at a confidence of 22.

For those of you that had a bad first day to the bowl season, just remember that there are 35 games, not 3, in the bowl season and everyone still has a chance.

Here is what the Top 10 of the standings looks like:

1. FlaGators


3. Wurtland Warriors

4. The Gary Carter's

5. hothot Louisville Cardinals

6. Miller

7. mojo133/2

8. nebraskasux

T9. Hilary Lee (Off Tackle Empire)

T9. forum8usa

For the complete standings, click here.

Here are the recaps done by SB Nation on each of yesterday's bowl games and a preview on today's Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl.


New Mexico Bowl, BYU vs. UTEP: Cougars obliterate Miners, 52-24

The following is Miner Rush's (SB Nation's UTEP Blog) recap of the game.

Maybe, there are too many bowl games.  Maybe, teams that lose 5 of their last 6 shouldn't be rewarded with a bowl appearance.  I don't know about all that, but I do know that all 6-6 teams are not equal.  The BYU Cougars were better than the UTEP Miners in every facet of the game in the 5th Annual New Mexico Bowl. 

From the opening kickoff, it was apparent that Bronco Mendenhall's football team was better prepared and just better than their C-USA counterparts.  Mendenhall has never had a losing season in six seasons at BYU and the Cougars have played in bowl games every year since 2006.  The Cougars arrived to University Stadium ready to play a football game.  The UTEP Miners arrived midway through the second quarter.

UTEP's opening drive lasted all of four plays.  UTEP had a first down on a Marlon McClure quick screen and then followed it up with a nice 5 yard gain by Joe Banyard.  Then, Mendenhall sent a blind side screen with cornerback Andrew Rich.  Rich took down Trevor Vittatoe for a huge loss and the Miners drive stalled.  BYU's Cody Hoffman nearly returned the ensuing punt for a touchdown.  Four plays later, Bryan Kariya walked into the end zone from four yards out to put BYU up 7-0.  


After another drive stalled, Jake Heaps hit Luke Ashworth for a 9 yard touchdown pass.  The teams traded field goals, including a booming 52 yarder from Dakota Warren, before BYU took complete control of the game behind two Heaps touchdown passes to Coffman.  WIth 8:55 to play in the first half, the score was 31-3.  UTEP had -22 yards rushing and -1 yard overall.  And, the New Mexico Bowl was effectively over.

UTEP finally got something going when VIttatoe hit Kris Adams on a 67 yard bomb with 8:38 to play.  31-10.  A Trevaun Nixon interception gave the Miners hope of going into the half down only 14.  Nixon intercepted the Heaps pass on the UTEP 12 yard line and returned it 43 yards to the BYU 45.  

With 0:51 on the clock, Vittatoe methodically moved the Miners down the field. First, he rushed for 10 yards,  Then, he hit Pierce Hunter for 11 yards.  After a bad drop by Marlon McClure, VIttatoe hit Corey Trisby for 9 yards.  Two plays later, he hit Trisby again to get it to the 15.  After a terrible drop on the goal line by Kris Adams, Trevor scrambled for four yards, with 11 seconds to play, but was hit late by a BYU defender. The penalty gave the Miners the ball on the BYU 3 yard line with 4 seconds to play.  Mike Price made a gutsy call, and one I agreed with, when he decided to have the Miners go for it.  

As Miner fans know, a good call by our coaching staff is usally followed by a bad one.  And, of course the bad call was the decision to throw a fade to Kris Adams who was clearly double covered.  The pass sailed out of bounds and any momentum UTEP had ended as the pass sailed out of bounds.  UTEP had a timeout and the double team was apparent.  But, instead of using the timeout and calling a different play, Aaron Price and Trevor Vittatoe decided to try the fade anyway.  Ballgame.

In the second half, Trevor did manage to hit Kris Adams on two big  touchdown passes.  Here are the rest of my thoughts, bullet style:

  • Which One Was the Freshman?  Offensive MVP Jake Heaps looked like Tom Brady against the UTEP defense.  Heaps was a killer 25/34 for 264 yards with 4 touchdowns and only 1 interception.  Trevor Vittatoe, playing of course with an injured ankle, limped his way to a 14/29 performance for 245 yards.  Vittatoe tossed three touchdowns and had three more interceptions.  
  • No Pick 6 At Least:  For the second time this season, Trevor threw three interceptions.   He also had three picks in the UAB loss.  In UTEP's first six games, TV only had two interceptions.
  • Was He Injured?  As BYU began to take control of the game, Aaron Price unsurprisingly abandoned the run.  Coming off his biggest game as a Miner, starting running back Joseph Banyard carried the ball only two times for 11 yards.  Donald Buckram picked up 6 carries in the second half for all of 10 yards.  The Miners rushed for -12 yards overall.  I'm not saying Banyard could have won the game, or even averaged more than 2 yards a carry, but I do think it would have been worthwhile to lean on him a bit more early on to see if UTEP could keep BYU's offense off the field.
  • No Tricks Up His Sleeve:  Let's face it.  UTEP had nothing to lose in this one.  The Miners were 13 point underdogs and everyone in the country pretty much expected them to lose.  I figured the Miners would embrace this underdog role and try some new wrinkles to catch BYU off guard.  Maybe more Wildcat?  Maybe some new ways to use Marlon McClure?  Nope.  We saw a cornerback blitz on the defense's first play that worked well with Trevaun Nixon.  Other than that, we had a vanilla game plan.  No trick plays.  Nothing new.  Nothing fresh.
  • Same Old Story:  For the 5th straight season, the UTEP Miners have finished with a losing record.  Mike Price is the first coach to take UTEP to three bowl games since 1954 (Mike Brumbelow) but he has been unable to get that elusive bowl win.  
  • Highlights:  Kris Adams had a key drop on that second quarter drive, but he also had 153 yards on three receptions (all TD's).  Receivers like him simply don't come to El Paso very often.  Dakota Warren hit a nice field goal from 52.  Trevaun had that interception but he was also beat in coverage for two Cody Coffman touchdowns.  Speaking of Coffman, his career high was 74 receiving yards.  He had 137 and three touchdowns against UTEP.  Wiston Jeune played good, aggressive football.  Marlon McClure had some nice returns.
  • Lowlights:  Anthony Morrow had a silly roughing the passer penalty.  Marcus Bagley, a DT, went offsides on a key 3rd down despite being on top of the ball.  And just about everything else.

The following is the Sports Network's official recap of the New Mexico Bowl.


Albuquerque, NM (Sports Network) - Jake Heaps completed 25-of-34 passes for 264 yards and four touchdowns, as BYU thumped UTEP, 52-24, in the fifth annual New Mexico Bowl.

Cody Hoffman snagged eight passes for 137 yards and three scores, while Joshua Quezada ran for 101 yards and a touchdown for the Cougars (7-6), who won five of their last six games to close the 2010 season. JJ Di Luigi added 98 yards and a score on the ground.

BYU played in its final game as a member of the Mountain West Conference, which it joined in 1998; it will become a football independent starting in 2011.

Trevor Vittatoe threw for 245 yards and three touchdowns, all to Kris Adams, on 14-of-29 efficiency for the Miners (6-7), who ended their campaign by dropping six of their last seven games.

JD Falslev's 43-yard punt return set up BYU at the UTEP 37, from where it cashed in just four plays later to begin the scoring onslaught.

Heaps hit Hoffman for 31 yards to the Miners' 11 two plays before Bryan Kariya ran up the middle four yards to the end zone to make it 7-0 just 4 1/2 minutes into the contest.

After UTEP went 3-and-out, BYU put together a 12-play, 78-yard-drive that culminated in Heaps' nine-yard scoring toss to Luke Ashworth with 4:37 left in the period.

Marlon McClure brought the ensuing kickoff back 72 yards to the BYU 22, leading to a 52-yard field goal by Dakota Warren with 2:42 to go in the opening quarter.

Mitch Payne booted a 38-yard field goal for the Cougars with 34 ticks left in the quarter to make it a 17-3 contest.

Brand Ogletree intercepted Vittatoe on the first play of the second quarter, and BYU scored on its next play when Heaps found Hoffman open in the end zone from 31 yards away.

The Cougars then made it 31-3 slightly less than six minutes later on Heaps' three-yard scoring toss to Hoffman in the back of the end zone.

UTEP needed only one play to score on its next touch, as Vittatoe and Adams hooked up on a 67-yard catch-and-run.

The Miners drove all the way to the Cougars' three-yard line before a Vittatoe incompletion in the end zone brought the first half to a close.

Di Luigi's two-yard scoring run and a 29-yard scoring strike from Heaps to Hoffman sandwiched a 37-yard scoring reception by Adams that gave the Cougars a 45-17 lead after three quarters.

Quezada's eight-yard TD dash finished the scoring for BYU before Adams caught a 49-yard scoring strike from Vittatoe with just under 10 minutes remaining.

BYU played in a bowl game for a sixth straight season under head coach Bronco Mendenhall, who was recruited by UTEP head coach Mike Price. Price at the time was the head coach at Weber State...The Cougars are 11-17-1 in bowl games, while the Miners dropped to 5-8...UTEP was playing in its first postseason game since the 2005 GMAC Bowl...BYU leads the all-time series, 29-7-1...The MWC entrant has won this game the last four years...Kariya finished with 18 yards on six carries...Joe Banyard was UTEP's leading rusher with 11 yards on two totes, while Donald Buckram carried six times for 10 yards...Adams totaled 153 yards on his three scoring catches...McClure made four grabs for 38 yards.



Humanitarian Bowl, Northern Illinois vs. Fresno State: Huskies Roll Past Bulldogs, 40-17

The following is the Sports Network's official recap of the Humanitarian Bowl.

Chandler Harnish ran for two touchdowns and passed for another score, as Northern Illinois crushed Fresno State, 40-17, in the 14th annual Humanitarian Bowl.

Chad Spann added 95 rushing yards and a pair of TDs for the Huskies (11-3), who snapped a three-game skid in bowl games, having lost last season to South Florida in the International Bowl. Harnish connected on 17-of-26 passes for 300 yards and rushed for 72 more for Northern Illinois, which was coming off a loss to Miami-Ohio in the MAC championship game.

Tom Matukewicz, who guided the team as interim head coach, was given a celebratory punch bath by his players in the final seconds. Starting in 2011 Dave Doeren, who has spent the last five years as an assistant at Wisconsin, will take over the NIU football program. Jerry Kill left NIU to take the vacancy at Minnesota.

"Our motivation was through the roof," Tom Matukewicz said. "It couldn't have been better. We had a lot to play for. I feel sorry for Fresno because they hit the perfect storm."

Ryan Colburn threw for a pair of scores for the Bulldogs (8-5), who have lost three straight postseason games, including the previous two at the New Mexico Bowl. Colburn finished 28-of-38 for 288 yards.

The Bulldogs denied Harnish on a fourth down pass in Fresno State territory early in the first quarter, and NIU fell behind 7-0 courtesy of Colburn's 11- yard TD strike to Jamel Hamler with 5 1/2 minutes left in the stanza.

Harnish, though, completed a 39-yard pass to Martel Moore, and two plays later the junior QB scored on a seven-yard run. The extra point try was no good.

A 28-yard run by Harnish into the end zone early in the second quarter gave NIU the lead for good, and it became a nine-point margin after Michael Cklamovski's 45-yard field goal with over nine minutes left until halftime.

"Give Northern Illinois a lot of credit. They really took over the game after our first drive," Fresno State coach Pat Hill said. "We couldn't get much going on offense and we couldn't slow them down on defense. We knew they were a very good football team and they proved that tonight."

Kevin Goessling connected from the same distance inside four minutes to go for Fresno State, but Harnish found Kyle Skarb for a 22-yard score in the final minute of the half. NIU went to the break holding a 23-10 lead after Goessling missed poorly on a 43-yard field goal attempt.

Cklamovski split the uprights from 51 yards away early in the third and NIU capitalized on a fumble from Colburn on the next series. Spann powered into the end zone from 18 yards away for a 33-10 cushion late in the third.

Spann scored on an eight-yard run in the opening moments of the fourth before Colburn found Rashad Evans for an 11-yard TD pass with 5 1/2 minutes remaining to account for the final margin.

Northern Illinois set a record for wins in a single season...NIU moved to 3-3 all-time in Division I bowl games, having beaten Fullerton State (1983 California Bowl) and Troy (2004 Silicon Valley Bowl)...Fresno State, which made its 11th bowl appearance in the last 12 seasons, is 11-12 in postseason contests...NIU is 3-2 all-time against Fresno State...Robbie Rouse was held to 32 yards on 14 carries for Fresno State...Willie Clark and Moore each had 88 yards receiving for NIU, while Hamler had 87 on seven grabs for the Bulldogs.


New Orleans Bowl, Ohio vs. Troy: Trojans Skin Bobacts, 48-21

The Following is the Sports Network's official recap of the R + L Carriers Bowl.

Corey Robinson passed for 387 yards and four touchdowns, as Troy built a big lead before recording a 48-21 victory over Ohio in the New Orleans Bowl.

Robinson completed 32-of-42 passes and threw three of his touchdowns in the second quarter to help the Trojans (8-5) carry a 38-7 lead into halftime. Troy then held on in the second half and earned the program's second bowl victory -- the first since the 2006 New Orleans Bowl.

DuJuan Harris ran for 105 yards and a touchdown, while Jerrel Jernigan rushed for a score in the rout. Troy nearly doubled Ohio's total yardage, outgaining the Bobcats by a 602-308 margin.

"We prepared well," Troy head coach Larry Blakene said. "I think our kids, after coming back off some really tough losses in the last half of the season, and then getting two wins and the help to get a co-championship, really helped us prepare well. I wanted to make sure it wasn't just the excitement of being in a bowl."

Boo Jackson passed for 209 yards and three touchdowns for Ohio (8-5), which fell to 0-5 all-time in bowl games.

Jernigan ran for a 12-yard score just over five minutes into the game, capping a 78-yard drive and getting Troy on the board. Ohio countered with a score, as Jackson found Steven Goulet on a 34-yard strike.

However, the Trojans scored the next 34 points to take control.

Robinson's 31-yard TD pass to Tebiarus Gill with 1:57 left in the first quarter put Troy back on top for good. Robinson hooked up with Jernigan for a 16-yard score a little more than two minutes into the second quarter, and Michael Taylor's 50-yard field goal made it a 24-7 game with 8:33 left.

Robinson connected with Gill for touchdowns of 17 and 26 yards in the final three minutes to turn the game into a blowout at the break.

Taylor's 33-yard kick three minutes into the third quarter completed Troy's run and left Ohio unable to come back without a minor miracle.

Jackson followed Taylor's field goal with a five-yard touchdown pass to Donte Foster, but Harris answered with a two-yard running score only two minutes later.

Jackson's 18-yard TD to Riley Dunlop with 5:07 left in the game completed the scoring.

"It's clear that we had trouble controlling them from the very start in terms of what they were all about," Ohio head coach Frank Solich said. "They pretty much threw at will, they made plays after the catch and that opened up the ground game for them. That's not what you look for in terms of keeping people from putting points on the board."

Jernigan finished with a game-high seven catches for 48 yards...Dunlop ended with four receptions for 91 yards...Ohio gained 99 rushing yards...Jackson completed 14-of-21 passes, was intercepted once, and was sacked four times...Troy earned a 41-17 victory over Rice in the 2006 New Orleans Bowl. The Trojans had lost to Central Michigan in the GMAC Bowl last season...Ohio lost to Marshall in last season's Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.


Southern Miss makes its ninth straight post-season appearance against Louisville

The following is the Sports Network's official preview of the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl.

For the ninth straight season Southern Miss is making a postseason appearance, as the Golden Eagles will collide with the Louisville Cardinals on December 21st in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The Golden Eagles might have racked up eight wins this season, which is clearly good enough for a bowl game, but their year began and ended the same way, with a loss. After falling to South Carolina in their opener, the Golden Eagles responded with four straight wins. The following three-game stretch saw the team drop two contests to East Carolina and UAB, and both setbacks came by a one-point margin. With the loss to the Blazers in the rearview mirror, the Golden Eagles exited the loss column, and racked up three consecutive wins. However, the regular season closed out with a 56-50 loss to Tulsa.

The Golden Eagles are no strangers to playing in bowls, having made a postseason showing in 12 of the last 13 years, including eight straight seasons. Last year Southern Mississippi fell to Middle Tennessee, 42-32, in the New Orleans Bowl. The Golden Eagles are 7-5 in bowl action during their recent stretch, but overall in the program's history, Southern Miss is just 9-11. Despite the recent run, coach Larry Fedora remains humble.

"We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in St. Petersburg in Florida," said coach Fedora. "It is a great area with great weather and we have the opportunity to play a quality opponent from the Big East. We are thrilled about being able to play another game."

The last time the Cardinals went "bowling" they defeated Wake Forest in the 2007 FedEx Orange Bowl. Louisville, which is 6-7-1 all-time in bowl games, will be making its 15 appearance in postseason play, but it will be the first for Charlie Strong as a head coach.

"For us to go get a bid to play in the bowl game was really big for the program because we needed that for the confidence of this program. Anytime you change a staff, you want something good to happen. We talked about getting this program to a bowl game and then make this program better each year from there."

Strong, who came from the coaching staff of Urban Meyer at Florida, did not have an overly impressive inaugural season, but still claimed Co-Coach of the Year honors in the Big East along with Connecticut's Randy Edsall. Louisville claimed wins in four of its first seven matchups and the three losses all came by eight or less points. Sitting at 4-3 the Cardinals proceeded to suffer losses in three of their next four games, and the lone win was a slim, 28-20 decision on the road against Syracuse. Fortunately, coach Strong's squad was able to go on the road in the season-finale and properly handle Rutgers to the tune of 40-13, giving the team the six wins needed to become bowl eligible.

The Golden Eagles currently own an 18-9-1 edge over Louisville in the all-time series, but the Cardinals have won the last four meetings, including a 25-23 decision last year thanks to a last minute field goal.

Ask any coach at any level of football and they will be the first to explain how having a balanced attack is the key to any successful offense. Having the ability to run and pass, keeps defenses guessing, and gives defensive coordinators fits. Coach Fedora can rest easy at night knowing his offense is very potent on the ground and through the air.

Taking care of the passing attack is Austin Davis, who was selected to the All Conference-USA Second Team. Davis completed over 60 percent of his throws this season, and racked up the yardage, averaging 241.5 ypg. He has thrown for 18 touchdowns, but more importantly, the veteran gunslinger does not make many mistakes, tossing just six interceptions. Kelvin Bolden has hauled in a team- high six touchdowns, but the main target has been Johdrick Morris. Morris, who was the First Team selection at tight end in the league, has collected a team- best 46 receptions for 663 yards.

Clearly Davis is a very effective quarterback, and makes life easy for coach Fedora, but what has kept opposing teams guessing is the ground game, which has dominated the competition for 203.4 ypg. There is not one main option that Southern Miss relies on, which is another advantage for this offense, as it showcases a few different talented backs. Kendrick Hardy has been the most successful, churning out 855 yards and seven scores, while Desmond Johnson, who also has seven touchdowns, has rumbled for 509 yards.

The offense received most of the attention on the season, and rightfully so, but the Southern Miss defense has also played a vital role in the team's success. Sure, on paper this unit is surrendering 29.4 ppg, which is a terrible number, but when peering deeper into the stats, there are plenty of things that make this a dangerous entity.

Opponents might be churning out 113.3 ypg on the ground against the Golden Eagles, but that is not an overwhelming amount, and when combined with the 3.6 yards per carry this front line has held opponents to, it is rather an impressive showing. A big reason for the team's success is the play of defensive linemen Anthony Gray and Cordarro Law. Both were selected to the league's Second Team, and will have their hands full against a tough Louisville ground attack.

Clearly if a team is allowing close to 30 points per matchup there are issues, and in the case of Southern Miss that comes in the defensive backfield. The Golden Eagles has been torched on the year for 248.1 ypg and 26 touchdowns, and the lone reason why both numbers are not higher is because this unit has been fortunate enough to grab 17 interceptions. Four of those interceptions were hauled in by Justin Wilson, who joins Law and Gray on the C-USA'a Second Team roster.

Louisville has the potential on the roster to possess a balanced attack, but that was not the case for the Cardinals, who fell way short of expectations in 2010. A major reason for the team's short-comings was due to injuries to a couple of key players in Bilal Powell and Adam Froman.

Powell only missed one game on the year, but spent most of the season dealing with nagging injures. However, that did not stop the running back from rumbling for 1,330 yards and 10 touchdowns on 6.3 yards per attempt. As a whole, the ground game for Louisville produced a robust 180.5 ypg, and because of that impressive display the Cardinals were able to either grind out wins, or keep matchups close down the stretch. Powell's success on the season did not go unnoticed, as the powerful back (6-0, 215) earned a spot on the Big East Conference's First Team.

Unfortunately, Froman's injury was much more severe, and kept the quarterback from competing in four games, while limiting him in other key matchups. Obviously, losing a quarterback is never easy to deal with, especially one as talented and experienced as Froman. In eight games, the signal caller completed just over 60 percent of his throws and tossed 11 touchdowns against four interceptions. However, in Froman's stead was Justin Burke, who performed admirably. Burke threw eight touchdowns and completed 56.7 percent of his passes, and as of right now he will be getting the nod on Tuesday over Froman.

"(Adam) Froman is practicing, but (Justin) Burke is still the starter. You still have all three guys with Froman, Burke and (Will) Stein. You watched Froman go down early in the season and then Burke came in to lead the football team. Burke went down in the Rutgers game and Stein came in. This is good because all three guys understand the system and you are comfortable with all three guys."

With the Louisville offense not reaching its full potential this year, the defense had to enhance its play to get to six wins and remain competitive in league play.

The biggest factor in the defense's success was Hakeem Smith. The redshirt freshman stepped into the safety position and led this defense with his physical and emotional style of play. The hard-hitting playmaker paced Louisville with 80 tackles, and his play on the field earned him a spot on the conference's Second Team, but more importantly led to the honor of being named Big East Rookie of the Year. Smith was not alone in the secondary however, as Johnny Patrick also played a huge role, collecting a team-high five interceptions. With those picks and his ability to be a shut down corner, Patrick was named to the league's First Team and helped Louisville limit the opposition to just 162.5 ypg via the pass.

If there was an issue with coach Strong's defense it has come against the run. Louisville is not being abused from game to game, but the team is surrendering 142.2 ypg, which clearly suggests there are holes to exploit in the frontline. Louisville is holding opponents under 20.0 ppg on the season, and if the team wishes to keep the Golden Eagles from crossing that plateau, than the Cardinals will definitely need to fill the gaps up front.

The biggest difference in so many bowl games is the play of the defense. Usually the team with the more consistent unit will win, and if that theory is true than the Cardinals should be flying high by the final whistle.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisville 31, Southern Miss 24

We're all just trying to have a good time here. Don't be a jerk, and we won't have a problem with you. War Eagle!