Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Forrest Gump dies and goes to Heaven.

This just came in over the ole email transom:

The day finally arrived. Forrest Gump dies and goes to Heaven.

He is at the Pearly Gates, met by Saint Peter himself. However, the gates are closed, and Forrest approaches the gatekeeper.

Saint Peter said, 'Well, Forrest, it is certainly good to see you. We have heard a lot about you. I must tell you, though, that the place is filling up fast, and we have been administering an entrance examination for everyone. The test is short, but you have to pass it before you can get into Heaven.'

Forrest responds, 'It sure is good to be here, Saint Peter, sir. But nobody ever told me about any entrance exam. I sure hope that the test ain't too hard. Life was a big enough test as it was.'

Saint Peter continued, 'Yes, I know, Forrest, but the test is only three questions.

What two days of the week begin with the letter T?

How many seconds are there in a year?

What is God's first name?'

Forrest leaves to think the questions over.
He returns the next day and sees Saint Peter,
who waves him up, and says, 'Now that you have had a chance to think the questions over,tell me your answers.'

Forrest replied, 'Well, the first one -- which two days in the week begins with the letter 'T'? Shucks, that one is easy. That would be Today and Tomorrow . . .'

The Saint's eyes opened wide and he exclaimed, 'Forrest, that is not what I was thinking, but you do have a point, and I guess I did not specify, so I will give you credit for that answer. How about the next one?' asked Saint Peter.

'How many seconds in a year? Now that one is harder,' replied Forrest, 'but I thunk and thunk about that, and I guess the only answer can be twelve.'

Astounded, Saint Peter said, 'Twelve? Twelve? Forrest, how in Heaven's name could you come up with twelve seconds in a year?'

Forrest replied, 'Shucks, there's got to be twelve: January 2nd, February 2nd, March 2nd . . .'

'Hold it,' interrupts Saint Peter. 'I see where you are going with this, and
I see your point, though that was not quite what I had in mind . . . but I will have to give you credit for that one, too. Let us go on with the third and final question. Can you tell me God's first name'?

'Sure,' Forrest replied, 'it's Andy.'

'Andy?' exclaimed an exasperated and frustrated Saint Peter.

'OK, I can understand how you came up with your answers to my first two questions, but just how in the world did you come up with the name Andy as the first name of God?'

'Shucks, that was the easiest one of all,' Forrest replied. 'I learnt it from the song,

Saint Peter opened the Pearly Gates, and said: 'Run, Forrest, run.'

Lord, Give me a sense of humor.
Give me the ability to appreciate a clean joke,
To get some humor out of life,
And to pass it on to other folks!

Was that football?

Were you one of the few who watched the Pro Bowl last Sunday?

The Pro Bowl is the NFL's all star game. A collection of the best players from around the league--minus those getting ready to play the Super Bowl or who are nursing injuries, that is.

It's also one of the most excruciating games to watch.

Most of the players are merely going through the motions. For some it's because they are not permitted to go at full speed. For example, defensive linemen can't put on a full rush and defensive backs can't play bump-and-run on the receivers. Watch for a few minutes and you'll see tackling effort about like you'd expect in flag football. (Perhaps that's why this year the final score was AFC 59, NFC 41. Actually quite surprising since quarterbacks and receivers have less than one week to get to know one another.)

And, hey!, why not? There's precious little incentive for the players beyond a week in Hawaii. And no one wants to sustain an injury that could potentially end their already short careers.

The NHL and NBA all star games aren't a heck of a lot better. I find these are saved only by the individual skills competitions that occur in the days BEFORE the game starts. That is, they are saved if you have any interest in the sport at all. I don't. Let's not even mention soccer.

The Major League Baseball All Star game is much more exciting and meaningful. At least there, the game does result in a benefit to one side or the other, what with the winning league having gained an advantage for the World Series. That and the fact that baseball is really a duel between the pitcher and the hitter. It's one on one; Mano y Mano.

Give me the MBL All Star game any day over whatever the heck it is they do in Hawaii in the week before the Super Bowl.

A New Coach at RU

Today, Rutgers athletic directer Tim Pernetti introduced the 29th head football coach, Kyle Flood.

I just watched the press conference and am suitably impressed by the former offensive line coach who seemed to say all the right things. Rutgers is NOT a program that is in need of rebuilding. It IS one of strong academics and improved performance on the football field.

The Scarlet Knights went to five bowl games in the last six years and won them all. They were not the top tier bowl games to be sure, but no other college football team can boast a current bowl winning streak of greater length. In his comments and answers, AD Pernetti and Coach Flood seemed to acknowledge this saying the vision of the program will not change.

One humorous moment that made me smile came when a reporter from the Newark Star Ledger asked Coach Flood about the status of two big name New Jersey recruits who, I believe, have not committed to any school yet. Coach Flood's response went something like this: "Per NCAA rules, I am not permitted to comment on their status. However I am looking forward to doing so tomorrow." Tomorrow is National Signing Day. Could it be that the recruiting class will be even better than originally thought?

I'll be following the signings tomorrow as they begin at 2 PM. Could get interesting.


I think my arteries just clogged as I read this: The Super Bowl of bacon

But I don't care! It's BACON!


Bacon Streusel Maple Cream Cheese Cupcakes.
JalapeƱos stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon.
Halftime Chili Is Better With Bacon, Whiskey …

...with links to the recipes and more!

About that cold....

It has begun...


Okay, it's not 80 F below zero, but for those in the British Isles, it's pretty cold. And snowy!

I wonder what the temps are in East Anglia?

Monday, January 30, 2012

So close!

More about cold from Watt's Up With That

Bitter cold records broken in Alaska - all time coldest record nearly broken, but Murphy’s Law intervenes
Jim River, AK closed in on the all time record coldest temperature of -80°F set in 1971, which is not only the Alaska all-time record, but the record for the entire United States. Unfortunately, it seems the battery died in the weather station just at the critical moment.

Yep. When the temperature reached -79 degrees F at 18:34 on January 28th. Surely it got below -80 degrees F. No?

According to Anthony, the electronic weather station used at Jim River is built to operate at temperatures from -40 to 150 degrees F. The lithium batteries used to backup the solar power used during the day also is built to operate from -40 to 150 degrees F. Not sure if we can blame Murphy for this or not. Seems more like a SNAFU.

From the "Let's Hope They're Wrong" Department

Yesterday I linked to an article from the UK Daily Mail about the low output of the sun and how this may be a harbinger of global cooling. (Forget global warming - it's Cycle 25 we need to worry about)

Today, Anthony Watts of Watt's Up With That posted his take and concludes:
Nature (the reality, not the journal) will be the final arbiter of truth in this. We live in interesting times.

The last sentence is sometimes considered a curse.

Anthony has lots of interesting additional graphs that point to an "Oh. My. God!" scenario. Go take a look.

Might be time to rethink the baseball season that runs into November.

Just saying.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Fro those in the lower 48 who are bemoaning the mild winter we have been enjoying (so far!), there is this cautionary tale from the UK Daily Mail :

Forget global warming - it's Cycle 25 we need to worry about (and if NASA scientists are right the Thames will be freezing over again)

The supposed ‘consensus’ on man-made global warming is facing an inconvenient challenge after the release of new temperature data showing the planet has not warmed for the past 15 years.

The figures suggest that we could even be heading for a mini ice age to rival the 70-year temperature drop that saw frost fairs held on the Thames in the 17th Century.


According to a paper issued last week by the Met Office, there is a 92 per cent chance that both Cycle 25 and those taking place in the following decades will be as weak as, or weaker than, the ‘Dalton minimum’ of 1790 to 1830. In this period, named after the meteorologist John Dalton, average temperatures in parts of Europe fell by 2C.

However, it is also possible that the new solar energy slump could be as deep as the ‘Maunder minimum’ (after astronomer Edward Maunder), between 1645 and 1715 in the coldest part of the ‘Little Ice Age’ when, as well as the Thames frost fairs, the canals of Holland froze solid.

Can you say "Hans Brinker"?

This is NOT the Climate Change we were looking for.

Go on and read the whole thing, as they say, but have a warm drink handy while you do.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tough Time on the Banks

A soggy, wet, rainy day here at the Aerie. We had 1/2 inch of snow overnight but then the temperature rose above freezing and we got light rain all day which melted virtually all the snow that fell. We're supposed to get lots more rain tonight and tomorrow. The wind is coming out of the south-southwest and the moisture has been streaming up out of the Gulf along with (slightly) warmer temperatures.


Lots of news out of Rutgers today. Coach Greg Schiano has signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be their new head coach. At age 45 it's an opportunity that's pretty damn hard to pass up.

The move leaves RU in a bind, however. National signing day for new recruits is February 1, just six days from now, and the loss of a head coach will throw a monkey wrench into the works. RU was about to have one of it's best recruiting classes ever and had been penciled in by some to start the 2012 season in the Top 25 with excellent chances of winning the Big East next year.

Hopefully the young men who have made verbal commitments to the Rutgers squad will stick with those commitments and join the Scarlet Knights. A good deal of that depends upon who Athletic Director Tim Pernetti gets to replace Coach Schiano. For the time being Pernetti has designate offensive line coach Kyle Flood as the interim coach but Pernetti hopes to have a new head Coach before next Wednesday's national signing day. (More here from ESPN's Andrea Adelson.)

Schiano did a great job in the 11 years he was at Rutgers and it seemed like he would stay forever. But, there are only 32 men that can call themselves "Head Coach" on the NFL level and it's tough to pass on a job offer like that.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Aerie Weather Report, January 23, 2012

Windy. Rainy. Dreary. But WARMING Monday here at the Aerie. Snow is melting like crazy creating a dense fog directly overhead and down into the valley.

Our low temp was at 12:01 AM this morning and it's been climbing ever since and is currently into the low 40s. This won't last long, but, by melting some snow now, it'll lessen the chance of spring thaw flooding. And after last September, that's a good thing.

The same thing is happening up near the Bolt Hole, too. And that is also a good thing for the Mohawk Valley residents.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


It took two hours of walking behind the snow thrower to get the job finished, but the driveway is now clear. I'll have to go back and clean the end of the driveway once the snow plow makes its appearance, but that's a minor problem.

The only difficulty I had was having to unlodge one stone that wedged the impeller and stopped the machine early on when it was still a STONE thrower and not a SNOW thrower. An adjustment to the skids raised the front just enough to put a halt to that.

The temperature hasn't risen much as it sits at 20-22 degrees. And there's still no breeze blowing. The clouds don't look to be leaving anytime soon so our chances of seeing any Northern Lights isn't looking good.

Aerie Snow Report, January 21, 2012

As the snow finished falling this morning, Terry baked up a batch of scones for breakfast. Nothing like warm scones spread with cold, melting butter and accompanied by a glass of cold milk.

I can believe we dodged the heaviest of the stuff. This was a narrow (about 150 miles wide) band of precipitation that streamed in from the west from Chicago and through Pennsylvania before hooking northward at the coast. Originally we in the Northern Tier were to be pretty close to the center of this stream but it shifted south and we ended up on the northern shore. Still, we have about 4 inches of very fine, very light, white powder on the ground. With the southward shift, the temperature remained cold enough (mid teens) that the flakes stayed very, very small.

Being as it's only 4 inches deep--and very light and powdery to boot--I'll be firing up the snow thrower instead of the tractor. At least initially. There's no breeze to speak of so blowing the snow where I want without getting a face full in return shouldn't be a problem.


Temps are supposed to rise into the 40s this week with some rain in the middle of the week. If I can get the snow down close to the bare minimum, it should disappear from the driveway. Again.


We're sorta hoping for the sky to clear before dark. The solar storm of a day ago should hit the Earth tonight and there's a possibility of the Aurora being visible even this far south. Being on the northwest side of the hill with a 20+ mile view has some benefits and we're hoping to cash in on this one.


Well, I've recycled by second (or was it fourth?) cup of coffee. Guess it's time to put on the boots and get to work.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Aerie Report, January 20, 2012

After a breezy day yesterday capped by about a half inch of very fine powdery snow, we're enjoying a lovely day here at the Aerie that could best be classified as "the calm before the storm." It's cold (high of 22 degrees and morning low of just 8) but quite still (absolutely no wind for most of the day) so we get what the thermometer says we got. The sun was out for most of the day and disappeared behind the thickening clouds well past mid afternoon.

The weather guys are saying there's snow on the way, however. How much is still in question. One forecaster says 3 to 6 another says 4 to 8 is a possibility. All agree that it will start late this evening--around 9 PM--and continue through the night and Saturday's morning hours.

In preparation, I took some time yesterday to replenish the stack of firewood in the garage. Today, I went down to fill the Tundra's gas tank and refilled one can with regular gas for the snow thrower and another with diesel for the tractor should those beasts be needed.

Earlier in the week we had about 2 inches of snow which was blown and drifted hither and yon. In spots it was nearly 4 inches deep and in others it was blown away enough to expose the larger stones in the gravel driveway. I went out and shoveled it anyway since the temperatures this week have been consistently below freezing. Once the snow was removed, the sun did warm the gravel enough to cause the rest to melt. That or the dry air caused it to sublimate. Whatever. It disappeared so last night's half inch--and the attendant drift--is all that's out there.

No plans to go anywhere tomorrow as we wait the end of the snowfall to begin our cleanup.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Aerie Report, Morning, January 18, 2012

The temperatures rose all of yesterday and even through the early evening hours. It reached 47 degrees at one point before the cold front moved through, the wind shifted and the temperature began to fall once more. It's just 22 degrees as I type.

And what a front it was, too! Long (stretching from east of Lake Ontario to West Virginia) and skinny (only a narrow band of clouds about 50 miles wide along the front), it swept through within a matter of minutes and brought some howling gales and gusts. (Elmira area had a report of a 60 mph gust around 11:30 last night.)

Today we've got some lake effect snow showers off lakes Ere and Ontario to contend with, although the bulk of those will be to the north of us and a smidge closer to the shorelines.


Since we moved into the Aerie in December of 2006, the intervening winters have seen us pretty much nibbled to death by ducks--that is suffering from frequent small snow storms of 3-4 inches--from November through January. With a few exceptions, the months of February and March--even early April--are when we get the "big ones."

I prefer to shovel when the snow is 4-6 inches or less, use the snow thrower for 5-8 inches and then the tractor for anything more. So far this year, I've had to shovel snow just twice. The snow thrower and tractor are getting dusty.

And even the shoveling may have been unnecessary since we had 40 degree (or more) days not long after that melted everything I didn't/couldn't shovel. Today there's only a tiny bit of snow where the winds drifted it to a depth of three or four inches and where the sun didn't get to it--yet.


Yesterday was the DIL's 28th birthday. She and her pup spent the evening alone in their Portland, Oregon home as my son was out in Yakima, Washington for work.

He's an inspecting forester for the power company making sure tree work and right-of-way clearing is done correctly. With the forecast for one heck of a snow storm in the Cascade and Olympic Mountains (which stretch across his path from Yakima back to Portland) I hope he drives safely--and that includes knowing when NOT to drive. Even so, if tree limbs give way under the weight of snow, he could be busy, busy, busy!

Stay safe kids!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Some thoughts while driving

I took the Tundra over to Athens and Williams Toyota this morning to get the oil changed and have a X-points inspection done. I could have just as easily gone down the hill to Mansfield Exxon, but this was an excuse to get out of the house for a while and I like the folks over at Williams. (I like Ryan at Mansfield Exxon too. He get to work on the Aveo and occasionally the Tundra. I'll see him in the spring when I need to get new tires.)

This is a 100-mile round trip and I had time to do some thinking.

First, I was pleased as punch that the temperature rose from the 31 degrees at the Aerie to 36-37 degrees along Route 6. That meant that the little bit of sprinkle that was falling stayed liquid instead of becoming black ice. (It also meant that the extra half hour I allotted for the trip was unnecessary, but I'd rather be early than in the ditch.)

Second, I'm happy there is a Mickey D's in Troy. Hot coffee and an egg and sausage McMuffin early on a cold, damp morning is a fine thing.

Third, this being a 100-mile round trip I couldn't help but think of how things have changed in a little over 100 years. In 1900, it would have been a two-three day trip just to get to Athens (50 miles) on horseback or in a wagon. Call it four to six days round trip. As it was it took me a little over three hours round trip INCLUDING a one hour period while I waited for the mechanic to do his job.

Fourth, the all electric vehicles being promoted by our wonderful government, having a range of about 40 miles on a charge, would not have even gotten me to Athens before needing to be plugged in. Given the charging time, a trip to Athens and back in a Volt would have taken me three days or more. Back to the future, indeed.

Fifth, those thoughts about the Volt's range (about 40 miles per charge) made me think about the commute of the average American. (Or at least those I know in Northern New Jersey.) While many of the teachers I worked with lived in close proximity (10 miles or so) of the school, some came from 30 to 50 miles away. (A few commuted from Pennsylvania to Parsippany because the taxes in New Jersey were so high. One of these also taught nights twice a week in Jersey City. He really racked up the miles!) Then there were other folks who worked in Manhattan yet lived out along the I-80 or I-78 corridors some 50 or more miles from the city. Some took the train or bus, but an awfully large number did not because public transit was inconvenient. The point is, there are lots of folks who could not even use the Volt to commute from the suburbs because of its limited range. So what, exactly, is supposed to be the Volt's niche?

It can't be to save CO2 emissions. You need electricity to charge the bloody thing and in today's world that's probably provided by coal or natural gas. (Or nuclear, I suppose.) Mining or drilling for the source of energy to yield the electricity or for the materials to build the light weight chassis and heavy metal batteries would create as big a carbon footprint as my Tundra.

The Volt must have been a project dreamed up while on drugs, planned by committee, and executed by a government run bureaucracy (or a union--same thing). Even with the generous, taxpayer provided rebates, it's a lemon of a vehicle no one wants. It makes the Ford Edsel look like a dream car with excellent sales numbers.

Friday, January 13, 2012

It's Friday the 13th...

...so perhaps it's right and proper that we be cursed/blessed with the return of winter weather.

With the wind out of the south as it had been much of the day, it started raining hard again last night after 9 PM when the temperature was still 40 degrees. It continued raining heavily on through 2 AM this morning (temp still 40 degrees) but changed to snow shortly thereafter when the wind shifted around to come from the west-northwest and the temperatures nosedived.

It got down to 23 degrees at 7 AM by which time there was a coating of snow everywhere. How much is difficult to determine as it is snowing sideways and the stuff is being swept clean from some surfaces and drifting on the leeward side of any obstacle.

The weather advisory is calling for 2-3 inches of snow in the "northern and western mountains...especially the higher elevations." With the Aerie in the Northern Tier at 2100' elevation, I guess that's us.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

This just in!

The LSU football team is stuck in New Orleans.
Someone painted a fifty yard line in front of their bus.


West Virginia just scored. Again.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bowl Game Summary

All the bowl game, including the national championship game, have been played. So how did each of the conferences in the FCS level do.

First, there were two independent teams in the bowls (BYU and Notre Dame). BYU won its game. ND did not. so the independents went 1-1 or 50%.

Of the conferences with automatic qualifiers in BCS bowls:
  • The ACC had eight teams in bowls. They won just two, a 25% record.
  • The Big 12 also had eight teams in bowl games and won six of them, a 75% record.
  • The Big East had just five teams in bowl games (smallest of the conferences) and won three of them, a 60% record.
  • The Big Ten had a whopping 10 teams in bowl games (over 83% of their members) and won five of them, a 50% record.
  • The PAC-12 had seven bowl teams and won just two, a 28.6% record.
  • The SEC had nine teams in bowl games and won six, a 66.7% record.
All six AQ conferences ended with a 24-23 record.


As to those conferences that do not have an automatic qualification with a BCS bowl:
  • C-USA had five bowl teams and won four games (80%)
  • The MAC had five bowl teams and won four (80%)
  • The MtnWest also had five bowl teams and won two (40%)
  • The Sun Belt had three bowl teams, winning one (33.3%)
  • WAC had three bowl teams and won none (0%)
These conferences went 11-10 in their bowl appearance.


Granted, the level of competition was quite varied, but I thought the powers that be did a pretty fine job in matching competitors and providing entertaining games.

Have you seen this...

...piece of head scratching idiocy?

EPA Fines Companies Because They Didn’t Use A Fuel That Doesn’t Exist

John Hayward has a look at...
The Orwellian nightmare of running a business in the shadow of the Obama Administration is nicely captured in this story from the New York Times, which explains why motor fuel companies are about to be fined $6.8 million for failure to use a biofuel that does not exist:

Yeah. Makes perfect sense. Fine them for using something that does not exist because the 2007 law says they must use it or be fined. And, since they are using so little of it this year, next year they must use even more! Or be fined even more!

These fines will, of course, be passed on to the consumer upping the price of fuel.

As John Hayward says in his subtitle for this article: "Gosh, it’s tough to figure out why that recovery is stalled."

Here's hoping this puts the offense
on the offense.

At first I thought it said "Tony Soprano" which would have been alright by me. Capice? After all, Soprano's a Jersey guy. Would have ended any discord in the huddle right quick, too.

But Saprano could be a good hire, too.

Jets hire Tony Sparano as offensive coordinator

Still think that Soprano would have put the fear of God into Sanchez and the O-line, forcing them to step up their game.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I blame Mayor Bloomberg and Michelle Obama!

Twinkies Maker Preparing for Chapter 11 Filing
Hostess Brands Inc. is preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as soon as this week, said people familiar with the matter, a move that would mark the second significant court restructuring for the Twinkies and Wonder Bread baker in the past several years.

Hostess Brands is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection. Shira Ovide joins Markets Hub to discuss a brief history of the company that gave the world Twinkies and Wonder Bread.

The privately held Irving, Texas, company, which employs roughly 19,000 people and carries more than $860 million in debt, has been facing a cash squeeze amid high labor costs and rising prices for sugar, flour and other ingredients, according to people familiar with the matter. Those costs together have proved higher than the company's roughly $2.5 billion in annual sales, creating losses and cash shortfalls, the people said.

More jobs heading down the drain. This is the second time Hostess has been in bankruptcy. They reorganized between 2004 and 2008, emerged from bankruptcy in 2008 but are heading back to Chapter 11 in 2012. Why?
Once in bankruptcy court, Hostess will try to reduce debt and renegotiate labor contracts, many of them with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, the people said. Hostess plans to file court papers soon threatening to reject or modify labor contracts under applicable bankruptcy rules, the people said. Such moves provide troubled companies a bargaining chip to try and get concessions from unionized workers.

A Teamsters spokesman declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Hostess's other main union didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
One sticking point for the baker: It pays about $100 million a year into so-called multi-employer pension plans that cover workers at a wide array of companies, the people said. Hostess, whose pension plan is underfunded by about $2 billion, wants to rescind its obligations to that plan and start paying into a plan that only covers its own workers, one of the people said.

Overall, Hostess carries hundreds of separate labor contracts that the company believes impose cost burdens, people familiar with the matter said; the company also wants to reduce benefits costs.

Aaah. Unions.Pensions. Anchors.

Then there's the Nanny State/Health Food Crazed:
Sales of Hostess's signature Twinkies have recently declined a bit while the overall bakery snacks category has been about flat. Nearly 36 million packages of Twinkies were sold in the year ended Dec. 25, down almost 2% from a year earlier, according to data from SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago-based market-research firm. The data captures sales from supermarkets, drugstores, mass-market retailers and convenience stores, but exclude sales from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and club stores.

Hostess also has had trouble attracting consumers who have migrated away from white bread to whole grains and other healthier foods. Hostess released a whole-grain bread called Nature's Pride, but it hasn't sold well compared with some rivals amid a small presence on shelves, according to Mitchell Pinheiro, a Janney Montgomery Scott analyst. Still, Nature's Pride's overall sales have ticked up, increasing 12.3% over the past year or so, said a Hostess spokesman.


I erroneously said: "This game will not depend upon field goals."

In reality, Alabama place kicker Jordan Shelley made five of his seven attempts (one got blocked and one was wide right) and it looked like that was all the scoring there was going to be until Trent Richardson bounced outside and scampered 34 yards with 4:36 remaining in the game for the lone touchdown.


I was going to skip watching this game but got caught up in the overwhelming defense that Alabama played. Swarmed under, one might say, like the LSU offense. It was an impressive team performance the likes of which one just has to admire. To give up just 92 yards net offense...amazing!

And for a team (Alabama) to commit just one penalty. Off sides on a fourth and 14 play. In the final two minutes of the game. That too is amazing.

Alabama 21, LSU 0

Congratulations to Alabama on their dominating 21-0 victory over the LSU Tigers. The Tide defense swamped LSU, miring the Tigers in their own territory all night.
How dominant was the Alabama defense?

  • This was the first National Championship game to end in a shutout.
  • ‘Bama’s defense held LSU to just 44 plays, five first downs, and 92 yards net offense.
  • It wasn’t until there were 8 minutes left in the game that LSU’s Jordan Jefferson managed to squirt across the 50-yard line for the first time. In the next four plays LSU lost yardage on the first three and the ball on the fourth.
  • Each team possessed the ball 11 times. LSU’s 11 possessions ended with nine punts, one lost fumble and one interception.

In contrast, Alabama’s eleven possessions ended with just three punts, seven field goal attempts and one touchdown (with 4:36 left in the game). Not great, but more than enough.

A.J. McCarron did just enough to get the Alabama place kicker, Jordan Shelley, closer to the end zone this time around. McCarron completed 23 of 34 passes for 234 yards. Trent Richardson carried the ball 20 times for 96 yards and a 34-yard TD while teammate Eddie Lacy rushed 11 times for 43 yards. Alabama ended the night with 384 net yards on offense.

Alabama used just one place kicker this time and Jordan Shelley converted on five of seven field goal attempts. He connected from 23, 34, 41, 35, and 44 yards out. The latter was a career best. (During the first meeting, Shelley and Cade Foster missed four field goals—all 44-yards or longer.) He also had one attempt blocked and pushed one j-u-s-t to the right of the uprights. Just to make things interesting—and slightly comical—Shelley dinked the attempted extra point off the right upright after Richardson’s TD run in the fourth quarter.


One thing marred the viewing of this game for me: Brent Musburger. Something about his voice and intonation just drives me wild. Perhaps it's the "I'm smarter than you, folks" implication in the way he talks. The fact he kept using the nickname “Honey Badger” instead of Tyrann Mathieu’s name while calling plays was just salt on the cake. Mentioning a nickname is one thing, but to constantly use it during play-by-play is amateurish.

(On a side note, perhaps if the Honey Badger gave a shit LSU might have looked better last night. As it was, those camera shots of the dead-eyed, deer-in-the-headlights stare shared by all the LSU players but especially of the "Honey Badger" late in the game were a clear indication of just how dominating Alabama's play was.)

And pairing Musberger up with Kirk Herbstreit….I don’t know. Herbstreit occasionally brings something positive to the table (Last night he pointed out that Alabama had permitted only 9 touchdowns all year; fewer than were scored by West Virginia against Clemson in the Orange Bowl.), but his voice just doesn’t have the right timbre to appeal to be. He’s that whiny fan down the end of the bar.

Monday, January 09, 2012

NIU 38, Arkansas State 20

Got this one right.

The Huskies of Northern Illinois came form a 13-0 deficit to defeat the Arkansas State Red Wolves 38-20. (I said they'd win 38-27.)

Huskies' quarterback Chandler Harnish got his ankle rolled up and missed a series early in the second quarter but his replacement, Jordan Lynch, lead Northern Illinois on a 7-play, 78-yard drive capped by his 3-yard TD run to give the MAC team the lead. Lynch was just 4 for 4 for 64 yards on that drive.

Harnish returned but didn't run for the remainder of the game. No matter. He completed 18 of 36 passes for 274 yards. He had two TD passes of his own and set up Jamal Womble for a 1-yard TD run just before halftime.

The Red Devils kept shooting themselves in the foot. Three interceptions (the final being returned by Dechane Durante 36 yards for a TD giving N. Illinois the 38-20 final score) and two lost fumbles as well as missed opportunities kept them in the hole all night.

Ryan Aplin did complete 30 of 58 for 353 yards and a TD and he did rush for a second score, but his three INTs and inability to keep drives going early in the first quarter may have cost the Red Wolves the game.


Now there's only one Bowl Game remaining: The National Championship out of Louisiana pits #1 LSU against #2 Alabama.

My gut feeling is that Alabama remembers the missed chances of their meeting earlier this season (three missed field goals? Or was it four?) and, with the elephant as their mascot, they will not forget.

This game will not depend upon field goals.

The Tide affects Baton Rouge like a Cat 4's storm surge.

Alabama 28, LSU 14.

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Sunday, January 08, 2012


Denver beats Pittsburgh in OT: 29-23

The kid they said could throw the ball in the NFL.

All he does is go 10 of 21 for 316 yards. Passes of 40, 52, 58 and 30 for a TD and 80 for the winning TD.

WR Demaryius Thomas caught four of those ten completions including the 52, 58 and 80 yarders for 204 total yards and the winning TD.

One hell of a performance by both Tim Tebow and Demaryius Thomas!

The Broncos move on to face New England next weekend.


Oh, and the Giants beat the stuffing out of Atlanta 24-2 in the early game.

GoDaddy.com Bowl

The GoDaddy.com Bowl Game being played this evening features the Arkansas State Red Wolves (10-2, 8-0, 1st in the Sun Belt Conference) and the Northern Illinois Huskies (10-3, 8-1, 1st in the Mid American Conference West).

The Red Wolves have the 18th ranked pass offense and 13th ranked rushing defense in the nation. They have limited opponents to less than 20 points per game. Arkansas State has won 9 in a row. Ryan Alpin has passed for 3235 yards and 18 TDs this year, but he’s also tossed 13 INTs.

The Huskies are 8th in the nation in rushing offense and have scored 40 or more points in 9 of their 12 games and they won three of those in which they did not score 40 points. Northern Illinois has won 8 in a row at the end of the season. Chandler Harnish has thrown for 26 TDs while allowing on ly 5 INTs. He’s also rushed for nearly 1400 yards this year.

One factor that might play a role in this game is the coaching merry-go-round that seems to affect so many teams this year. Arkansas State’s head coach Hugh Freeze has taken the head man’s job at Mississippi. As a result, the Red Wolves will be playing under assistant coach David Gunn. (Former Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn was named Arkansas State's next coach and will take the reins after this game is over.)

The line on this game has Northern Illinois favored by 1.5 points and an o/u of 63 points.

Two of those low scoring games by Northern Illinois came at the tail end of the season, but they won both: E. Michigan 18-12, Ohio 23-20.

Look for the Huskies to defeat the Red Wolves 38-27 with the help of a couple of turnovers.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

SMU 28 - Pitt 6

Got another prediction wrong.

The Southern Methodist Mustangs routed the Pittsburgh Panthers Saturday afternoon in the BBVA Compass Bowl by a score of 28-6.

J.J. McDermott opened the scoring with a 50 yard TD pass to Darius Johnson early in the first quarter, ran one yard for the next TD, and then Rishaad Wimbley scored the first of his two rushing TDs…still in the first quarter. And the Mustangs led 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.

After that it was strong defense on the part of SMU that sacked, rushed and limited Pitt’s Tino Sunseri. By the time Sunseri was pulled late in the fourth quarter, he had just 33 yards on 13 carries and had completed just 19 of 28 passes for 183 yards and one INT. Pittsburgh was limited to just two Kevin Harper field goals.

Pitt’s defense didn’t do too poorly after that first quarter either. The Panthers limited SMU to just 61 yards on the ground. McDermott did complete 16 of 25 passes for 238 yards, however 100+ of that came in the first quarter.

SMU leads...

...21-0 after the first quarter.

Guess I picked the wrong team in this game, too.

BBVA Compass Bowl

The BBVA Compass Bowl pits a current Big East team (Pittsburgh) against a future Big East team (Southern Methodist). Kickoff will be at 1 PM on ESPN

Pittsburgh (6-6, 4-3, 4th Big East) saw it's head coach, Todd Graham, leave for Arizona State immediately after the season and will be playing under the guidance of their interim coach and defensive coordinator Keith Patterson, who will himself be hitting the road for Arkansas State next week. (Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst will become the Panthers' new head coach.) Some might see this as a distraction, but to the Pitt players it's more like deja vu. They played in the same bowl, under the same conditions (vis-a-vis coaching changes) last year. (Pitt beat Kentucky 27-10 in that game.)

A bigger problem for Pitt is the loss of their premier running back Ray Graham. With Graham out more of the offensive burden will fall on the shoulders--and arm--of quarterback Tino Sunseri. And Pitt hasn't been that great at protecting their quarterback this year. The Panthers are last in the nation with its 56 sacks allowed, 4.75 per game.

SMU (7-5, 5-3, 3rd in the West Division of C-USA) has been something of a self stopper this season. Quarterback J.J. McDermott has thrown for 3182 yards and 16 TDs and Zach Line has rushed for 1224 yards and scored 17 TDs, but McDermott has also thrown 16 interceptions and the Mustangs have turned the ball over a total of 31 times...a stat that puts them last in the nation in that category.

[UPDATE: I didn't realize that Zach Line was also out for this game with an injury. That should hamper SMU a bit and put even more pressure on McDermott to produce and Pitt's defense to shut down the passing game.]

Not sure how either offense will play out today, but the defenses should be licking their chops.

Look for a slightly simpler offense from Pittsburgh from the spread that Todd Graham was trying to implement. The Panther defense will come through.

Pittsburgh 24, SMU 17

Cotton Bowl

The Razorbacks held Kansas State to just 87 yards rushing on Friday night. Kansas State had been averaging 185.5 yards per game.

That and a pair of Tyler Wilson TD passes and a 51 yard punt return for a TD by Joe Adams was sufficient for Arkansas to emerge with a 29-16 victory.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Cotton Bowl:
#7 Arkansas vs #11 Kansas State

Cotton Bowl out of Dallas, Texas:
#7 Arkansas (10-2, 6-2, 3rd in the SEC West) vs. #11 Kansas State (10-2, 7-2, 2nd in the Big 12)

This is not a BCS Bowl...but it should be. It's got the history and it's got two of the best teams in the nation squaring off against one another.

Arkansas is not in a BCS Bowl game because it's in the SEC West along with Alabama and LSU. That's the only way you end up third in your conference division with just two losses. And Kansas State is second in the Big 12 behind #3 Oklahoma State to whom it lost 52-45 in the regular season and the Big 12 has no conference championship game in which the Wildcats could seek revenge.

Arkansas’ two losses this year came at the hands of Alabama (38-14) in the fourth week of September and of LSU (41-17) in the final game of the regular season. Kansas State’s two losses came in back to back games to Oklahoma (58-17) and Oklahoma State (52-45) in games 8 and 9. KState then finished the season with three consecutive victories.

Arkansas Junior Tyler Wilson passed for 3422 yards and 22 touchdowns with only 6 interceptions. The Razorbacks were 13th in passing offense and 23rd overall. On defense they were ranked 50th in the nation--24th passing defense, 75th against the rush.

Junior quarterback Collin Klein led the Wildcats with 1745 yards and 12 touchdowns passing while tossing only 5 interceptions. He also had 1099 yards rushing for 26 touchdowns. Even so, Kansas State ranked only 91st in the nation on offense, 105th in passing. On defense they were 33rd against the rush and 99th against the pass for a total of 70th overall.

Summation: Arkansas has a rushing defense that the Wildcats can exploit. The Wildcats pass defense is itself exploitable. So, the outcome of this game will be how well Wilson can pass versus how well Klein can run, and which defense stiffens up against its weaknesses and which team can win the turnovers.

This will be a close game. Klein and the Wildcats will come through, however. Kansas State wins 31-27

Thursday, January 05, 2012

70-33 Yipes!

"...WVA just doesn't have the man-power to beat the Tigers."

Boy! When I'm wrong, I'm really, really wrong!

A week ago Baylor set a record for most points scored in a bowl game when they put up 67 points in the Alamo Bowl. That record didn't even last a week when West Virginia put up 70 in the Orange Bowl against Clemson last night.

Gino Smith got the MVP and was credited with throwing for 401 yards and six (!) touchdowns, but he should at least share that award with Tevon Austin who caught four of those "passes" for TDs. Three of them were not much more than little flips forward--almost like a basketball give-and-go--as wide receiver Austin sped across the field between the center and Smith. Austin's speed and ability to tight-rope walk his way down the sidelines turned even the shortest "toss" in to a long TD pass.

Austin's TDs came on plays of 8, 27, 3, and 37 yards. In addition, Geno Smith hit Stedman Bailey for a 6-yard score and Willie Milhouse for a 7-yard TD. Smith used his legs to score on a 7 yard run. And Shawne Alston acrossed the line twice as he carried the ball 20 times for 77 yards.

But the play that turned the game around--and was the second longest scoring play in Orange Bowl history--was made by Mountaineer safety Darwin Cook. With Clemson trailing 21-20 in the second quarter, Andre Ellington--who had started the games scoring with a 68 yard run--drove into a pile at the goal line as he attempted to put the Tigers back in the lead. The ball popped loose, however and boiled to the top of the scrum. Cook snatched the ball and, not hearing any whistles, took off for the other end of the field while many Clemson players stood around the heap signalling touchdown. Ninety-nine yards later it was a touchdown--for West Virginia.

The extra point made it 28-20, but that too was ephemeral. Two quick turnovers by Tahj Boyd (Clemson had four on the night), a couple of quick strikes by Smith and crew and it was 49-20 at halftime. (That too was a record: highest score by a single team and by two teams in a half.)

Watching this game was like watching a train wreck: the carnage as Clemson was destroyed on defense was a horrible sight, but you just couldn't stop watching for fear of missing a spectacular play by someone--anyone--on the West Virginia side of the ball.

Good thing there are no bowl games tonight. I need to catch my breath after this one.

Now, about those critics who keep calling it the Big Least...West Virginia was just 5-2 in conference. Please explain.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Orange Bowl:

#23 West Virginia (9-3, 5-2, 1st in the Big East) vs. #14 Clemson (10-3, 7-2, 1st ACC Atlantic Division, ACC Champions)

With freshman running back Dustin Garrison out due to a knee injury, junior Shawne Alston will have to step up his play. That might mean Geno Smith will need to kick up his game, too. If he does…well, look out Clemson! With Smith at the controls, West Virginia brings the nation’s #7 pass offense into Sun Life Stadium for the Orange Bowl. The Mountaineers average 341.8 yards per game while throwing the ball. Smith has throw 25 TD passes while giving up only 7 INTs.

Clemson has Tajh Boyd at QB and he’s no slouch either. Boyd has thrown for 31 TDs this year while tossing only 10 INTs. The Tigers are 21st in the nation in passing offense averaging 284.8 ypg.

Both teams are strong on pass defense (WVA is 28th in the nation while Clemson is 32nd).

Clemson is 56th in the nation in rush offense with 155.8 ypg while West Virginia is only 93rd with 117.8 ypg.

On rush defense it’s the opposite. WVA is the better of the two yielding just 140.8 ypg and ranking 46th in the nation as compared to Clemson giving up 176.5 ypg in 77th place.

Clemson was powering along on cruise control until the last week in October. They then lost three out of four games—all road games—to Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, and South Carolina before defeating Virginia Tech—for the second time in the season— in the ACC Championship game.

Clemson has used the time since December 3rd to get healthy--which is bad news for West Virginia.

I may be a Big East fan, and I truly hope West Virginia can prove me wrong, but I’ve little love for the Mountaineers in this game. With the injuries they've suffered, WVA just doesn't have the man-power to beat the Tigers.

Clemson 38, WVA 24

Sugar Bowl: Michigan 23, Virginia Tech 20 in OT

What an ugly game. Truly ugly. Raises the question as to why either team was here.

Neither seemed to want to win it. Neither team played up to their hype. Both made errors galore. Some even started long before kickoff.

Virginia Tech’s starting field goal kicker got arrested for B & E and was told to stay home. His replacement broke curfew and was given a bus ticket home. So, of course, the game came down to the toe of the third string, senior kicker, Justin Meyer. Let me repeat that “third string, senior kicker”. i.e. someone unable to beat out two other kickers.

For a good long while the kid did fine. Meyer did all the scoring the Hokies managed in the first three quarters as he connected on field goals of 37, 43 and 36 yards. And, in the fourth quarter, after Logan Thomas scored on a 1 yard run and passed for a 2-point conversion, Meyer kicked a 25-yarder to tie the game.

So the kid made four field goals, scoring 12 of Virginia Tech’s 20 points in regulation. Will he be celebrated for doing that? No. He’ll probably be vilified for missing a 37-yard attempt in OT that allowed Michigan to escape with a victory after Brendan Gibbons drilled his 37-yard field goal down the middle a few moments later.

Virginia Tech had just 377 yards net offense but even that was double Michigan’s 184 yards. And while Michigan’s defense stiffened in the red zone, hence the four Meyer field goals, it was bad play on special teams, of all things, that cost Frank Beamer’s Hokies dearly.

Michigan succeeded on a fake field goal, had a drive kept alive on a roughing the punter, forced a fumble on a kick return and blew up a VT attempted fake punt late in the game.

The Wolverines’ Denard Robinson was just 9 of 21 passing for 117 yards with one TD. He also had just 13 yards on 13 carries. Quite possibly it was his worst outing this year.

Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas was 19 of 28 for 214 yards. He had 53 yards rushing on 16 carries but they all seemed to convert big third downs and one of those yards was for a TD.

I picked the winner correctly, but this was a loser of a game as far as entertainment is concerned.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Aerie Report, January 03, 2012

One of the coldest mornings of this winter. It dropped to 8 degrees this morning before starting to climb back into the double digits. The steady breezes made it feel even colder. Since those winds continue out of the north-northwest, we're getting a few lake effect snow showers today and tonight. The temperatures will drop even lower over Tuesday night and may approach 0 degrees early Wednesday morning.


Terry's feeling better and seems to have gotten over the flu she contracted last Friday.

Meanwhile my head cold continues unabated. I've more congestion than I-80 headed to the GW Bridge at 7:30 AM on a weekday. Yeah, I'm officially and literally a mouth breather.

Hell of a way to start the new year.

The Sugar Bowl

Tonight’s Sugar Bowl will see #13 Michigan (10-2, 6-2, 2nd Big Ten Legends Division) against #17 Virginia Tech (11-2, 7-2, 1st in ACC Coastal Division).

The two teams appear to be pretty well matched—-on paper. The Wolverines have the nation’s 11th best rushing offense (235.7 yards per game) while the Hokies have the 13th best rushing defense (107.8 ypg). Conversely, the Virginia Tech is 28th in rushing offense while Michigan is 31st in rushing defense (129.1 ypg).

The Hokies are better in the passing offense being 64th in the nation with 227.1 ypg while the Wolverines are 87th with 187.4 ypg. Michigan has an edge in passing defense. They are 15th in the nation yielding just 188.5 ypg compared to the Hokies 36th position with 206.2 ypg.

Michigan has Denard Robinson (“only” 2056 yards passing on 133 completions but 1163 yards rushing on 209 carries). Virginia Tech has David Wilson (266 carries for 1627 yards).

The difference is VT plays in the ACC while Michigan played in the Big Ten. And this time it DOES make a difference. Michigan will stop David Wilson. VT will not stop Denard Robinson.

Michigan will win this one 31-17.

Just a 50-50 kind of day.

Well, I didn’t do so well on Monday. Of the six games played I got only half the winners correct. I did get two of the scores spot on, but for the wrong teams. I said the Rose Bowl would be 45-38 and the Fiesta Bowl would be 41-38 and they were. Only problem was I thought the Badgers and Cardinal would win and it turned out to be the Ducks and the Cowboys.

Ticket City Bowl: Houston 30, Penn State 14
(I picked Houston)

The Houston Cougars rolled to a 30-14 victory over the Nittany Lions of Penn State in the Ticket City Bowl. The Cougars had 600 yards of net offense—most of it coming via the arm of Case Keenum who completed 45 of 69 passes for 532 yards and three TDs. Two of those TDs—-40 yards and 75 yards—-went to receiver Patrick Edwards who finished the day with 10 catches for 228 yards. Justin Johnson—-12 catches for 148 yards—-had the other TD.

Keenum had 227 first-quarter passing yards. That set the record for most passing yards in one quarter in any bowl game. The previous record was 223 yards by Louisville’s Browning Nagel vs Alabama in the first quarter of the 1991 Fiesta Bowl.

A touchdown by PSU’s Stephfon Green on a 6-yard run late in the first half, stiffened defense and 69-yard TD pass from Rob Bolden to Justin Brown in the second half kept this from being a blowout on the scoreboard as well as on the field.

Matt Hogan hit field goals of 35, 38 and 22 yards for Houston.


Gator Bowl: Florida 24, Ohio State 17
(I had Florida)

Last year, Urban Meyer coached the Florida Gators. Next year, Urban Meyer will coach the Ohio State Buckeyes. Yesterday, Meyer’s former team manhandled Meyer’s future team, 24-17. Don’t let the score fool you. It wasn’t that close.

Florida’s Andre Debose returned a kickoff 99 yards for a TD and Chris Rainey blocked a punt that Graham Stewart picked up and returned 14 yards for a TD.

Ohio State’s freshman Braxton Miller completed 18 of 23 passes for 162 yards and two TDs, but hat second one came with just 57 seconds left in the game. But then the Buckeyes failed to recover the onsides kick and that was all she wrote.


Capital One Bowl: South Carolina 30, Nebraska 13
(I had South Carolina)

Alshon Jeffery had four catches for 148 yards and a TD on a spectacular 51-yard Hail Mary as time ran out in the first half of the Capital One Bowl. That catch put South Carolina ahead of Nebraska 16-13 at the break.

But, in the third quarter Jeffery got himself ejected along with the Cornhuskers’ cornerback Alfonso Dennard when they traded punches after a play.

No matter. The second half saw Kenny Miles score on a 9-yard pass and a 3-yard run while the Gamecock defense shut out the Cornhuskers to cement a 30-13 victory.


Outback Bowl: Michigan State 33, Georgia 30 in 3OT
(I picked Georgia.)

Down 16-0 at halftime, Michigan State managed to tie the Georgia Bulldogs 27 all in regulation and win the Outback Bowl 33-30 in the third overtime period when they blocked a Blair Walsh field goal attempt that could have kept the game going…and going…and going…

Kirk Cousins, who engineered the MSU comeback, was 27 of 50 for 300 yards, one TD, and three INTS. Le'Veon Bell scored on short runs of 8 and 1 yard.

Aaron Murray was 20 of 32 for 288 yards, two TDs—including an 80-yarder to Tavarres King—and two INTs for the Bulldogs.

Brandon Boykin, one of the few players in the game to line up on both sides of the ball as well as special teams scored on a safety in the first quarter, returned a punt 92 yards for a TD and caught a 13-yard TD pass for Michigan State.


Rose Bowl: Oregon 45, Wisconsin 38
(right score-wrong team)

The Oregon Ducks’ Darron Thomas completed 17 of 23 passes for 268 yards and three TDs while De'Anthony Thomas scored on TD runs of 91 and 64 yards—his only two carries of the game and LaMichael James had 159 yards and a TD on 25 carries.

For the Wisconsin Badgers, Russell Wilson was 19 of 25 for 296 yards and a TD with another score on a 4 yard run and Montee Ball had 164 yards and a TD on 32 carries. Louis Nzegwu returned a fumble 33 yards for a TD.

It all added up to a 45-38 Rose Bowl win for Oregon. It was the first Rose Bowl win for Oregon in 95 years and the highest ever point total by both teams in this storied bowl.


Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State 41, Stanford 38 in OT
(another correct score but the wrong team)

After one bowl game (the Outback Bowl) went to triple overtime and another (the Rose Bowl) had the highest point total in its history, it was going to be tough for the Fiesta Bowl to prove more entertaining than any of the other games played on Monday…but it did.

Led by two stellar quarterbacks, the Stanford Cardinal and Oklahoma State Cowboys played one whale of a game Monday night. While Andrew Luck engineered a more balanced, methodical attack for most of the game, Brandon Weeden hit Justin Blackmon three times for long, quick strikes.

Luck finished the night 27 of 31 for 347 yards and two TDs while Weeden was 30 of 43 for 425 yards and three TDs (all three to Blackmon were 43, 67, and 17 yards) plus one TD on the ground.

Luck also had the help of Stepfan Taylor who carried the ball 35 times for 177 yards and two TDs.

Stanford ran 81 plays for 590 yards net offense compared to Oklahoma State’s 57 plays for 412 yards. Stanford had 27 first downs to Oklahoma State’s 15. The time of possession was equally lopsided: 41:47 for Stanford but just 18:13 for Oklahoma State. In baseball it would be like watching a team of singles hitters against a squad of homerun sluggers. Not that Luck can’t swing for the fences when he needs to. He hit Ty Montgomery for a 53-yard TD in the first quarter.

The Cardinal got off to a 14-0 start before Weeden unlimbered the big guns and brought the Cowboys back to a 21-21 tie at the half. The Cowboys fell behind again in the second half but tied the score at 38 all with 2:35 to go in the game. An eternity to these two teams.

Luck marched the Cardinal down the field to the OSU 18 yard line. With three seconds left it was up to redshirt freshman Jordan Williamson. Williamson had missed just three field goals all season but had already missed one in this game. He missed this 35-yard attempt, hooking it to the left and the game went into overtime.

Williamson missed another field goal, this one from 42 yards out. OSU’s Jordan Sharp made good on a 22-yard chip shot a few moments later and the Cowboys were Fiesta Bowl Champs.

Monday, January 02, 2012

A Big Day on the Gridiron

Today, Monday January 2nd, we’ll see six bowl games being played with the first kickoff right after the Rose Parade.

Unfortunately, three of them kickoff at the same time and one will have only barely begun when they do. So keep those remotes well oiled and fingers spry!


The Ticket City Bowl starts at Noon in Dallas, Texas with #20 Houston (12-1, 8-1, 1st in Conference USA West) vs #24 Penn State (9-3, 6-2, 2nd in the Leaders Division of the Big Ten) (on ESPNU).

Houston has the nation’s #1 pass offense with Case Keenum having completing 71.7% of his passes for 5099 yards, 45 touchdowns and only five interceptions. The Cougars only loss came in their final game of the year. They dropped the C-USA Championship game to Southern Mississippi 49-28.

Penn State is operating under a cloud. They have no university president, no athletic director, no head coach, and no idea who will be in those positions next month. Currently, Tom Bradley is acting as interim head coach. He is being interviewed for the top spot but so are others. Since the fit hit the shan back in November, the Nittany Lions have struggled on the field. They dropped two of their last three games losing to Nebraska and Wisconsin. They’ve had players fighting in the locker room. (A quarterback was injured and may have to sit out this game. A wide receiver was left home.) Things are not all that well in Happy Valley.

The Cougars average 443.8 yards per game passing offense. Penn State is 5th in the nation in pass defense yielding just 162.2 yards per game. The average score of Houston’s 12 victories was 53-21. Twice they scored 73 points in a game. They won’t score that many against Penn State, but they should still manage to win.

Houston 35, Penn State 17.


The Capital One Bowl, beginning at 1 PM in Orlando, Florida, pits #10 South Carolina (10-2, 6-2, 2nd in the SEC East) vs #21 Nebraska (9-3, 5-3 3rd in the Big Ten Legends Division) (on ESPN).

The Gamecocks lost Marcus Lattimore, a certified Heisman candidate, in mid season yet still averaged 198 yards rushing per game (24th in the nation). The Cornhuskers average 223.9 yards per game (14th in the nation). Neither is particularly strong in passing offense (92nd and 98th). So this game will come down to defense.

South Carolina is 2nd in pass defense and 4th overall. Nebraska’ s defense is 35th. ‘Nuff said.

South Carolina wins this one 31-17.


The Gator Bowl also starts at 1 PM in Jacksonville, Florida with Ohio State (6-6) facing Florida (6-6) (on ESPN2).

Ohio State had a mediocre year. Their offense…well…stunk! They were 26th in passing but 112th in rushing for an overall 101 ranking. Defense was better. The Buckeyes ranked 23rd overall. They lost their last three games (@Purdue, home against Penn St., and @Michigan).

The Gators also had an up and down year. They won their first four, lost their middle four, and split their final four (W, L, W, L). Their offense is ranked 95th in the nation. Their defense, however, ranked 9th overall.

The game is being played in the Gator’s backyard. I see Florida winning this one 24-17.


The Outback Bowl is the third game starting at 1 PM in Tampa, Florida #12 Michigan State (10-3, 7-2, 1st in the Big Ten Legends Division) will play #18 Georgia (10-3, 7-2, 1st in the SEC East) (on ABC).

Both teams have top five defenses but the Georgia Bulldogs have an offense just slightly better than the Spartans.

Michigan State won four of their last five losing only to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship—42-39. After losing their first two games, to Boise State and South Carolina, the Georgia Bulldogs ran off 10 straight wins before losing in the SEC Championship game to LSU.

Look for Georgia to win this one 31-28.


Now we get to first two of the BCS games.

The Rose Bowl kicks off at 5PM in Pasadena, California and has #5 Oregon (11-2, 9-1, 1st in the PAC 12 North and PAC 12 Champion) playing #9 Wisconsin (11-2, 7-2, 1st in the Leaders Division of the Big Ten and Big Ten Champ) (on ESPN).

The Oregon Ducks have the 4th ranked offense in the nation. Their rush offense is stronger with the likes of LaMichael James leading the way. Their two losses were to LSU back on opening day and to USC in mid November.

Russell Wilson quarterbacks the Wisconsin Badgers’ potent offense. He’s thrown 31 TDs and only 3 INTs. He’s also got Montee Ball in the backfield carrying the ball (1759 yards and 32 TDs on the ground and 6 via the air).

There’s one thing for sure about this game: Points will be scored. Wisconsin wins 45-38.


Finally, the Fiesta Bowl begins at 8:30 PM in Glendale, Arizona with #3 Oklahoma State (11-1, 8-1,1st Big 12) vs #4 Stanford (11-1, 8-1, 2nd in the PAC 12 North) (on ESPN).

Oklahoma State Cowboys have Brandon Weeden (72.6 % completion, 4328 yards, 34 TD, but 12 INT) and Joseph Randle (1193 yards rushing and 23 TDs). The Cowboys offense is ranked 3rd in the nation—42nd in rushing, 2nd in passing. But their defense is only 101st—79th against the rush and 99th against the pass.

The Stanford Cardinal have Andrew Luck (70%, 3170 yards, 35 TDs, and just 9 INTs) and Stepfan Taylor (1153 yards rushing and 8 TDs).Stanford’s Offense is ranked 10th in the nation. Its defense is ranked 24th (5th against the rush, 75th against the pass).

Stanford will prevail in this one, although it won’t be easy—or low scoring. Cardinal 41-38.


So there are my winners: Houston, South Carolina,Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin and Stanford.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Sick. Sick. Sick.

Terry (who got a flu shot) has flu-like symptoms: temperature, aches, diarrhea, etc.

I (who got no flu shot) have got one heck of a head cold: congestion, runny nose(How can it be both?), cough, sneezing.

No idea were or when we contracted these bugs, but I wish they would go away!

One heck of a way to end the Old and start the New Year.

I went 3-2 yesterday.

I managed to get three out of five correct yesterday.

As expected, Texas A&M defeated Northwestern in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, 33-22. However, after the Aggies blew double digit half time leads 5 (or was it 6?) times this year , I confess to holding my breath as the Wildcats put 15 points on the board in the fourth quarter. (Seems like it was every single game they lost they had a double digit lead at the half.)

Ryan Tannehill threw for 329 yards and a TD, Ben Malena scored twice on the ground and Randy Bullock had field goals of 24, 40, 47, and 31 yards for the Aggies. The Aggies were playing under the guidance of interim coach Tim DeRuyter after the firing of coach Mike Sherman at the end of the season. DeRuyter is heading to Fresno State as their new head coach. They also had to deal with the death of offensive lineman Joseph Villavisencio in a car accident on December 22.


I got the Sun Bowl wrong. I didn’t expect the Utes to be able to handle the Georgia Tech option…and they didn’t. The Yellow Jackets had 311 yards rushing on 56 plays. Preston Lyons had 138 yards on 18 carries and Tevin Washington had 96 yards on 20 carries.

What I didn’t expect was that Utah would employ a road grader at fullback named Shawn Asiata to pave the way for their own rushing game. Following Asiata and taking advantage of some of the big holes he opened, John White gained 115 yards on 26 carries. Asiata also seemed to be there when the Utes needed to get that big first down. He only caught 5 passes for 57 yards but every one seemed to be for a first down. Asiata caught a 1 yard pass from Jon Hayes in the first quarter for a TD and opened a path to the end zone for White in overtime to end the game. In between, Hays tossed TD passes to Kendrick Moeai and DeVonte Christopher. The former with 6:50 remaining in the fourth quarter and the latter tied the score in regulation with just 1:32 left on the clock.

Quayshawn Nealy returned an interception 74 yards for a TD in the third quarter to put the Georgia Tech ahead 24-10. While Justin Moore kicked field goals of 32 and 34 yards—the latter putting Tech ahead in overtime—he missed two 42 yarder tries and a 48 yard attempt as regulation ended. Any one of them could have sent Georgia Tech home a winner. Instead, the Utes came away with the 30-27 OT victory.


In the Fight Hunger Bowl, neither team feasted on offense. This was a game between two teams that should have been playing on the Island of Misfit Toys. Illinois had a six game losing streak, UCLA had a losing record (6-7). Both teams’ head coach had been fired after the season ended and would play under the leadership of interim coaches who will be elsewhere this week.

But the Illinois defense seemed to be hungry. The Fighting Illini held UCLA to a mere 18 yards rushing and Terry Hawthorne returned an interception 39 yards for a TD in the third quarter.

Kevin Prince did throw two TD passes for the Bruins, but the second came in the final minute of play with the Illini leading 20-7.

The new coaches, Tim Beckman at Illinois and Jim Mora at UCLA, have got a lot of work ahead of them. At least Illinois can savoir the 20-14 bowl win as they prepare for next year.


The Liberty Bowl saw Cincinnati defeat Vanderbilt 31-24.

Zach Collaros played for the Cincinnati Bearcats for the first time since he broke his ankle back in early November. He looked tentative and rusty as he took the snaps. He “ran” 8 times (for minus 8 yards as most of these were sacks) and he only completed 12 of 29 passes for 80 yards and one TD. He also threw two INTs. BUT—and it’s a big one—the Bearcats won anyway.

They won because Isaiah Pead carried the ball 28 times for 149 yards and a TD. They won because George Winn carried the ball 6 times for 78 yards including a 69-yard beauty for a TD. They won because Ralph Abernathy returned a kickoff 90 yards for a TD.

Vandy’s Chris Boyd scored on a 68-yard catch and run from Larry Smith.


The Chick-fil-A Bowl is the other game I got wrong Saturday. A team that has suspended its star running back for violation of team rules and that loses its starting QB in the first quarter should not be able to do what Auburn did as it beat Virginia 43-24. I guess home field advantage was worth more than I thought.

That and Onterio McCalebb and Barrett Trotter. McCalebb rushed for 109 yards on 10 carries and one TD. He also caught two passes for 53 yards and one TD. Trotter (who lost the starting roll to Clint Moseley mid-season) completed 11 of 18 for 175 yards and the one TD to McCalebb.

Oh, and don’t forget the special teams. They recovered an onsides kick and blocked two punts. One of those blocks set the Tigers up on the 16 yard line and—two plays later—resulted in a TD. The other resulted in a safety.

Michael Rocco completed 26 of 41 pass attempts for 312 yards for the Cavaliers. He connected with Kris Burd on a pair of TD passes that gave Virginia a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter—just before Auburn went on a 21-0 spree to take command of the game.


No college football for me today! No sir!

It's pros only today anyway. No college games scheduled. Which seems strange for a January 1st. No Rose Parade either.