Weekly Sports Report

The major news story of the week was the long-anticipated announcement that Nick Saban is leaving LSU to take over the Miami Dolphins. Saban was the highest paid coach in college football, but even the Tigers could not compete with the Dolphins' offer of a five year contract reportedly worth at least $4.5 million per year.

Saban will remain to coach LSU in the Capital One Bowl against Iowa on New Year's Day. Who will replace Saban in Baton Rouge? He has several very highly regarded assistants, including Jimbo Fisher and Derek Dooley. Will either be considered for promotion, or will LSU look for a higher profile candidate? LSU has already interviewed Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino, who last week signed a contract extension with a large raise to remain with the Cardinals. Another interesting possibility may be former Cleveland Browns head coach Butch Davis, who won a National Championship at Miami. This will get interesting! In other coaching developments, former Miami Dolphin coach Dave Wannstedt is the new head man at his alma mater, Pittsburgh. Wannstedt initially turned down the job, but had a change of heart several days later. Two more new head coaches were announced today. Dick Tomey will take over at San Jose State. The 66 year old Tomey had previously served as head coach at Hawaii and Arizona. He spent this season as the Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Ends Coach at Texas. Miami (Ohio) promoted offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery to succeed Terry Hoeppner. Montgomery has been the OC at Miami for the past three seasons. At 37, he will be the youngest head coach in Division One. Tommy Tuberville of Auburn was named the A.P. Coach of the Year. Tuberville was rewarded with a revised seven year contract worth $16 million dollars by new A.D. Jay Jacobs. Tulane extended Chris Scelfo's contract through 2009. Southern Mississippi head coach Jeff Bower fired offensive coordinator Rip Scherer and WR coach Dave Warner. Bower promoted running backs coach Jay Johnson to offensive coordinator and named Jay Hopson as his new defensive coordinator. Hopson replaced Tyrone Nix, who left for the DC position at South Carolina. New UNLV coach Mike Sanford named Vic Sheady as his new defensive coordinator and assistant head coach.

In a tragic note, Vanderbilt junior RB Kwane Doster was shot and killed while sitting in a parked car in Tampa early Sunday morning. No arrests have been made at this time.

It's looking like Temple will receive an invitation to join the MAC Conference for football. The Owls were booted from the Big East after this season due to poor attendance and performance. Speaking of Temple, junior LB Rian Wallace declared for the NFL draft.

In the seemingly never-ending saga of the BCS, the Associated Press refused permission for their Top 25 poll continue to be used to help determine the BCS rankings. The BCS Committee is working on a revised formula that should be completed by April. In addition to the A.P. poll, the BCS rankings had been determined by using the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and six computer generated rankings. Maybe some day, the realization will hit that no artificial formula will ever be adequate. A playoff system must be adopted. This season, Auburn is the "victim of the system," provided they remain undefeated by beating Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.

Here's a summary of the seven bowl games played last week, followed by a preview of the bowl games scheduled from tonight through Thursday. I'll publish a special edition of the Weekly Sports Report on New Year's Eve covering this weeks' results and previewing the remaining bowl games.


Champs Sports Bowl (Orlando) - In a match-up of 6-5 teams, Georgia Tech routed Syracuse 51-14. The Yellow Jackets jumped out to a 7-0 lead on the game's second play from scrimmage when Chris Reis intercepted a Perry Patterson pass and returned it 20 yards for a TD. The Orange responded with a drive that culminated in a 21 yard TD run by Patterson, but senior Colin Barber missed the PAT. Georgia Tech then took control of the game, scoring on their next three possessions en route to a 35-6 halftime lead. For the Yellow Jackets, sophomore QB Reggie Ball completed 12 of 19 passes for 207 yards and 2 TDs. He also ran for a score. Junior RB P. J. Daniels carried 17 times for 119 yards and 2 TDs. Patterson finished with 21 completions in 34 attempts for 219 yards and a TD. The pounding taken by the Orange certainly didn't help the cause of embattled head coach Paul Pasqualoni, especially with newly named Athletic Director Daryl Gross in attendance.


GMAC Bowl (Memphis) - This game figured to be a shoot-out, and it was. When the smoke cleared, Bowling Green defeated Memphis 52-35. Sophomore QB Omar Jacobs had a sensational game for the Falcons, completing 26 of 44 passes for 365 yards and 5 TDs. Four of Jacobs' TD tosses came in the first half, two each to WRs Charles Sharon and Steve Sanders, to give Bowling Green a 35-28 lead. The only score of the 3rd quarter came on a 13 yard TD pass from Jacobs to RB P.J. Pope. Pope was also the game's leading rusher, with 28 carries for 151 yards and 2 TDs. For the Tigers, senior QB Danny Wimprine was 26 of 39 for 324 yards and 4 TDs. DeAngero Williams, Memphis' star junior RB, carried 18 times for 120 yards and a TD before leaving the game with a broken leg late in the 3rd quarter.


Fort Worth Bowl - On a frigid night deep in the heart of Texas, Cincinnati topped Marshall 32-14. Senior QB Gino Guidugli paced the Bearcats' attack, completing 24 of 36 passes for 231 yards and 2 TDs. Guidugli missed Cincinnati's final regular season game with a broken right (throwing) hand. Cincinnati jumped off to a quick 10-0 lead on a 9 yard blocked punt return by Antwaun Giddens and the first of three field goals by Kevin Lovell. Marshall then scored twice to take a 14-10 lead after the 1st quarter. Senior QB Stan Hill threw a 14 yard TD pass to senior WR Josh Davis and junior CB Willie Smith returned an intercepted Guidugli pass 32 yards for a score. The Bearcats took a 24-14 lead into the locker room as Guidugli threw TD passes to TE Brent Celek and Earnest Jackson. Cincinnati's defense held the Thundering Herd without a score in the final 30 minutes. For the game, they limited Marshall to just 134 yards of total offense, including minus 3 yards rushing. Hill completed 14 of 30 for 137 yards. The loss left Marshall with a 6-6 record, breaking their streak of 20 consecutive winning seasons. Marshall will move from the MAC to Conference USA next season, while Cincinnati leaves CUSA for the Big East.

Las Vegas Bowl - Wyoming won their first bowl game in 38 years, edging UCLA 24-21. The winning score came on a 12 yard TD pass from junior QB Corey Bramlet to TE John Wadkowski with just 57 seconds left. UCLA trailed 10-0 after the 1st quarter, but took a 14-10 lead into the locker room. Starting QB Drew Olson was forced to leave the game with a sprained left knee late in the 2nd quarter with the Bruins behind 10-7. JUCO transfer David Koral replaced Olson and hit senior WR Craig Bragg with a 17 yard TD pass with 1:50 to go before halftime. The Bruins upped their advantage to 21-10 in the 3rd quarter, as Koral and Bragg hooked up again on a 26 yard TD pass. The Cowboys scored early in the final period on a 22 yard TD pass from junior WR Jovon Bouknight to J.J. Raterink, setting the stage for the late-game 72 yard drive that resulted in the winning TD. Bramlet was 20 of 34 for 307 yards and 2 TDs. In addition to throwing a TD pass, Bouknight had 5 receptions for 106 yards and Tyler Holden added 4 catches for 116 yards and a TD. For UCLA, Koral was 7 of 12 for 89 yards and sophomore RB Maurice Drew gained 125 yards on 25 carries.


Hawaii Bowl (Honolulu) - Hawaii's senior passing combo of QB Timmy Chang and WR Chad Owens put on quite a show in their final appearance in Aloha Stadium as the Rainbow Warriors outscored UAB 59-40. Chang completed 31of 46 passes for 405 yards and 4 TDs, becoming the first player to throw for over 17,000 yards in NCAA history. Two of Chang's TD passes went to Owens, who had 8 receptions for 114 yards. WR Jason Rivers also had a big game for Hawaii, with 11 receptions for 148 yards and a score. Hawaii only led 28-26 at the half, but scored 17 consecutive points in the 3rd quarter to take control. Both TDs were scored by Owens. The first on a 15 yard pass from Chang and the second on a spectacular 59 yard punt return. Justin Ayat then added a 43 yard field goal. For the Blazers, junior QB Darrell Hackney was 31 of 54 for 417 yards and 2 TDs. Senior WR Roddy White had 6 receptions for 113 yards and a score.


MPC Computers Bowl (Boise) - Fresno State capped a comeback from an early 14 point deficit to edge Virginia in overtime 37-34. Junior QB Paul Pinegar threw for all five Bulldogs' touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime. In overtime, Virginia took a 34-31 lead on a 26 yard field goal by junior Connor Hughes, but Pinegar hit senior TE Stephen Spach from 25 yards out on the Bulldogs first play. Virginia lead 21-7 in the 2nd quarter before Fresno State closed to 21-10 before halftime on a 49 yard Brent Visintainer field goal. The Bulldogs finally tied the game at 24 in the 4th quarter on a 22 yard TD pass from Pinegar to senior TE Mark Wood. Virginia responded with a 20 yard TD run by junior RB Wali Lundy to put the Cavaliers ahead 31-24 with 6:20 left. Pinegar then took the Bulldogs on an 83 yard drive capped off with a 3 yard TD pass to Jaron Fairman on 4th and goal. Pinegar completed 23 of 36 passes for 235 yards. The Bulldogs' running back combo of Wendell Mathis and Bryson Sumlin was also effective. Mathis carried 15 times for 126 yards while Sumlin rushed 21 times for 94 yards. For Virginia, junior QB Marques Hagans was 18 of 30 for 162 yards and a TD. He also rushed for 85 yards and a TD in 7 carries.

Motor City Bowl (Detroit) - Connecticut made their bowl debut a winning one as they drubbed Toledo 39-10. The Huskies jumped off to a 17-0 lead after the first 15 minutes and were never headed. Sophomore Matt Nuzie opened the scoring with a 35 yard field goal, the first of a career-high four. Senior QB Dan Orlovsky then connected on a 35 yard TD pass to junior WR Jason Williams, followed by a 68 yard punt return by Larry Taylor. Orlovsky completed 20 of 41 passes for 235 yards and 2 TDs. Senior WR Keron Henry had 9 receptions for 108 yards and sophomore RB Cornell Brockington added 77 yards on 15 carries. The Rockets total of 10 points was their lowest of the season. Toledo's QB, junior Bruce Gradkowski, was limited by a broken hand suffered in their final game of the season. Gradkowski scored Toledo's lone TD on a one yard run in the 2nd quarter before leaving the game. He completed 6 of 12 passes for 44 yards. His replacement, redshirt freshman Marques Council, was 16 of 28 for 165 yards.



Houston Bowl - Colorado vs. UTEP - In his first year at the helm of the Miners, head coach Mike Price engineered a remarkable turnaround. UTEP was 2-11 last season, but improved to 8-3 this year, making Price a leading Coach of the Year candidate. Sophomore QB Jordan Palmer, Carson's younger brother, had a strong season for the Miners. He completed 59% of his passes with 24 TDs and 16 interceptions. Diminutive senior RB Howard Jackson is UTEP's leading rusher, with 1,150 yards and 9 TDs. For the Buffaloes, junior QB Joel Klatt has had a difficult season, completing 57.5% of his passes for just 9 TDs and 15 interceptions. Klatt will need to be especially careful, since UTEP's defense ranked 5th in the nation with 18 interceptions. Colorado prefers to run the ball, mostly with senior Bobby Purifoy. He gained 1,017 yards with 9 TDs.

Alamo Bowl (San Antonio) - Ohio State vs. Oklahoma State - Both teams come into the game with 7-4 records. Ohio State won four of their last five, including a huge upset win over arch-rival Michigan. On the other hand, Oklahoma State has lost three of their last four games. The Buckeyes will start sophomore QB Jason Zwick. Zwick opened the season as the starter, but was later benched in favor of fellow sophomore Troy Smith. However, Smith was suspended for this game for violating school and NCAA rules. Zwick has a fine target in sophomore WR Santonio Holmes, who had 50 receptions and 7 TDs. The Buckeyes' normally strong running game has struggled all season. Oklahoma State is led by redshirt freshman QB Donovan Woods, who threw for 1,491 yards and 13 TDs with only 4 interceptions. The Cowboys prefer to keep the ball on the ground behind junior RB Vernand Morency. He rushed for 1,454 yards and 12 TDs. The deciding factor could be turnovers. Oklahoma State was an excellent plus 18 in turnover margin.


Continental Tire Bowl (Charlotte) - Boston College vs. North Carolina - The Eagles (8-3) will get a preview of life in the ACC when they take on 6-5 North Carolina. Senior QB Paul Peterson will return to the starting lineup for the Eagles after sitting out their final game against Syracuse with a broken hand. That injury may have cost B.C. a spot in the Fiesta Bowl. Peterson was 197 of 322 for 2,358 yards and 16 TDs. His favorite targets are senior Grant Adams and junior Larry Lester with 47 and 31 receptions respectively. Boston College has used a "running back by committee" approach, but redshirt freshman Andre Callender is the one to watch. The Tar Heels are led by senior QB Darian Durant, who completed 155 of 258 passes for 1,979 yards and 14 TDs. Senior RB Chad Scott came on strong in the second half of the season, ending with 747 yards and 8 TDs.

Emerald Bowl (San Francisco) - Navy vs. New Mexico - Devotees of old fashioned football will love this game. Neither team throws much, with both barely exceeding 1,000 yards for the season. New Mexico features junior RB DonTrell Moore, who gained 1,083 yards with 5 TDs despite being hampered by a leg injury for much of the season. The Lobos (7-4) are working on a five game winning streak. Navy features the triple option attack, skillfully led by senior QB Aaron Polanco. Polanco leads the Middies with 13 TDs, and rushed for 844 yards. Their leading rusher is bruising senior FB Kyle Eckel, who gained 1,062 yards with 11 TDs. New Mexico is at least somewhat familiar with defending the triple option, since they play Air Force every year.

Holiday Bowl (San Diego) - Texas Tech vs. California - The major question mark in this game is the attitude of the Golden Bears. California had a 10-1 record with the only loss being a close one to top ranked USC. Despite winning their final game against Southern Mississippi, idle Texas moved past the Golden Bears into the final BCS Bowl spot. Will Cal's players be fired up at the slight, or come out flat? Junior QB Aaron Rodgers had a super season, completing 185 of 274 passes for 2,320 yards and 23 TDs with just 7 interceptions. However, Rodgers will be without his favorite target, senior WR Geoff McArthur, who suffered a broken left leg against Southern Mississippi. Rodgers still has senior RB J.J. Arrington, who was a model of consistency all season. Arrington rushed for 1,845 yards and 14 TDs, with a 7.0 average. He gained at least 100 yards in every game. For the Red Raiders, senior QB Sonny Cumbie directs their spread offense. Cumbie was 382-582 for 4,222 yards and 29 TDs, but did throw 18 interceptions. His favorite targets are sophomore WR Jarrett Hicks (67 receptions for 1,108 yards and 11TDs) and junior WR Trey Haverty (69 receptions for 872 yards and 6 TDs). Texas Tech can also run the ball. Junior Taurean Henderson rushed for 805 yards and 14 TDs.

Silicon Valley Classic (San Jose) - Northern Illinois vs. Troy State - This will be a match-up of Northern Illinois' offense against the stout defense of Troy State. The Huskies finished in the top 15 in the country in scoring offense, rushing offense, and total offense. Their main weapon is 5'7" sophomore RB Garrett Wolfe, who rushed for 1,572 yards and 17 TDs, averaging 6.5 YPC. Northern Illinois can also throw the ball, with senior QB Josh Haldi. Despite missing three games with an injury, Haldi passed for 15 TDs. His main target is senior WR Dan Sheldon, who had 39 receptions for 919 yards and 9 TDs. Troy State's defense was 1st in the country in interceptions and 2nd in turnovers forced. On offense, the Trojans feature the running of senior DeWhitt Betterson, who gained 1,136 yards with 9 TDs. Freshman QB D.T. McDowell rarely puts the ball in the air, and had only 4 TD passes.

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