Friday, January 2, 2009

ACC FOOTBALL: OTHER THAN VIRGINIA TECH - NOT VERY GOOD

The ACC was fast –tracking its way to another bowl season debacle after Clemson did what they do so well against Nebraska…that would be “find a way to lose.” That loss put the home league’s bowl record at a rousing 3-6, with a two year combined bowl record of 5-12.

Worse still, the ACC had not won a BCS game since Florida State defeated the Big East version of the Michael Vick Hokies for the National Championship in January of 2000. Since then, ACC teams had played in eight BCS games and lost every single one.

With that small burden to bear, the underdog Hokies helped save a little league face by stifling Cincinnati’s high-octane offense and winning last night’s Orange Bowl. In a better world, Bud Foster's lunch pail would have been the game's MVP.

At game’s end, Tyrod Taylor threw off his helmet and struck a Sports Center pose in celebration. Before the cameras could catch the sophomore’s attempt at the money shot, one of his offense linemen knocked him to the Orange Bowl’s turf. In retrospect, that seemed like the perfect ending to Virginia Tech’s up-and-down season that began with a loss as a result of a blocked punt and ended with a BCS win.

Cullen Harper and his Clemson mates controlled the first half against the Huskers, but failed to put up points. That shortcoming would haunt them when the second half started and it was clear Nebraska had made some key adjustments. The “Good” Harper enjoyed by Bowden at times early in the season and by new coach Dabo Sweeney in the latter half of the campaign, was usurped by the “Bad” Harper in the second half. His sack on third and goal for a 15 yard loss on the next-to-last play of the game was as bad a mistake as a senior quarterback can make. Ever. You know what’s coming next: Game over.

Harper ended up 17 for 37 for 206 yards two touchdowns and the classic bowl killing two interceptions. The tough Nebraska defense held the Clemson’s Thunder and Lightning to a whopping total of four yards rushing while the Tigers were converting three of sixteen third down attempts in the process squandering a 21-10 lead.

No. 21 VIRGINIA TECH 20, No. 12 Cincinnati (Bearcats, 26,824 students, Cincinnati, OH) 7

Darren Evans had 28 carries for 153 yards and a touchdown and quarterback Tyrod Taylor rushed for another score as Virginia Tech defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Orange Bowl. The Hokies now join USC and Texas as the only D1 schools to win 10 games in each of the past five seasons.

The Hokies (10-4) forced Cincinnati quarterback Tony Pike into a season-high four interceptions. Pike - who wasn't even on Cincinnati's depth chart at the start of the season before blossoming into an all-Big East quarterback - threw for 239 yards and a touchdown, but had his night marred by the picks. In addition, Pike was also stifled on a fourth quarter fourth down goal line run.

Mardy Gilyard had 255 all-purpose yards (158 receiving , 97 returning) and a touchdown catch for Cincinnati (11-3).

Nebraska (Cornhuskers, 22,963 students, Lincoln, NB) 26, CLEMSON 21

Joe Ganz threw for two touchdowns, Alex Henery kicked four field goals as the Huskers beat Clemson in the Gator Bowl.

Nebraska (9-4) ended the season with a four-game winning streak, and won a January bowl game for the first time in nine years.

Coming in Clemson (7-6) had won four of their last five games after a 3-3 start.

Tigers’ coach Dabo Swinney looked like he would get a win in his first bowl game when Clemson took a 21-10 lead in the second half. But…no.

(Photos by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images, Doug Benc/Getty Images and Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

PICTURE(S) OF THE DAY

HOCKEY IS WEIRD. Yesterday the good folks in Chicago paid good money to sit in the freezing cold and “look at” hockey. We say “look at,” because you can’t actually watch the game in a stadium that far from the rink. You think basketball in a stadium is hard to watch, try spotting that little bitty 100 mph hockey puck from the right field bleachers.

Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 in the NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field.


(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images, and David Stluka/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 2

TWO MORE REASONS FOR A PLAYOFF: USC AND PENN STATE. C.J. Gable #2 of the USC Trojans runs in for the touchdown past Drew Astorino #28 of the Penn State Nittany Lions during the 95th Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi on January 1, 2009 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

Surely both belong in a playoff and the Trojans maybe as good, or better, than either Florida or Oklahoma. Sadly, we will never know.


(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 3

WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLET? Quarterback Matthew Stafford #7 of the University of Georgia is sacked by Brandon Long #47 of the Michigan State Spartans during the 2009 Capital One Bowl at the Citrus Bowl on January 1, 2009 in Orlando, Florida.

Georgia won.


(Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

PICTURE OF THE DAY 4

SEEING GREEN. Iowa running back Shonn Green back turned Thursday’s Outback Bowl into a farewell party, leading the Hawkeyes past South Carolina 31-10 and then announcing he intends to skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

Greene who ran for 121 yards and three touchdowns is the only player in the D1 Football Bowl Subdivision to rush for at least 100 yards in every game this season.

Really?


(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

ACC BOWL FUTILITY CONTINUES

You had to see this coming, yes?

Just one year after winning the National Championship the LSU Tigers were kicked around the S.E.C. like the leagues version of the proverbial red-headed step child. One had to figure they would show up in Atlanta just a bit ornery and put a whoopin’ on a good, but ultimately one dimensional, Georgia Tech squad. And that is exactly what they did. Freshman Jordan Jefferson didn’t play like a freshman (see BC vs. Vandy), and the Tigers defense did the rest.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, Duke beat Vandy. While that’s not the condemnation it once was, it still led ACC aficionados to believe a Boston College victory over the Commodores was a no brainer. As the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughn once said – blame it on the weather. BC’s offense was horrible and the gusting winds didn’t help freshman QB Dominique Davis who is no Chris Crane, who is no Matt Ryan. You see the point. The turnover bug continues to plague ACC shools. The Eagles had three – two interceptions and a critical late fumbled punt.

All in all, the bowl season is shaping up a lot like the ACC regular season. There was plenty of parody during the league play and no shortage of mediocrity this bowl season. While only Georgia Tech has been clobbered and a number of games have been close and ultimately determined by turnovers, the ACC is, as Denny Green once so eloquently put it “what we thought they were.”

Simply put, not very good.

Maybe the Hokies and Clemson can even things up for the league now burdened with at 3-5 record for this bowl season.

Last year, the ACC won all of two bowl games.

GAYLORDS HOTELS MUSIC CITY BOWL

Vanderbilt 16, No. 24 BOSTON COLLEGE 14 - (Edited from AP report) – Vanderbilt won a bowl game for the first time in exactly 53 years when Bryant Hahnfeldt kicked a 45-yard field goal with 3:26 left to beat Boston College.

Vanderbilt hadn't played in a bowl since 1982 and the win gave the Commodores (7-6) their first winning season since then.

Boston College (9-5) snapped the nation's longest bowl winning streak after eight straight games in its 10th consecutive bowl appearance. The Eagles also missed a chance at finishing with at least 10 wins for a third straight season.

The Eagles got the ball twice after Hahnfeldt's third field goal, but had to punt the first time, then Myron Lewis picked off Dominique Davis with 1:36 left.

B.C. squandered another good effort by their defense which entered the game ranked sixth in the nation. The Eagles held Vandy to 200 yards including one of fourteen on third down attempts.

CHICK-fil-A BOWL
LSU 35, No. 14 GEORGIA TECH 3 - (Edited from AP report) – Charles Scott ran for three touchdowns, freshman quarterback Jordan Jefferson (making just his second start) completed his first nine passes and LSU made big plays on special teams in a surprisingly easy 38-3 victory win over Georgia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Wednesday night.

LSU outscored the No. 14 Yellow Jackets 28-0 in the second quarter and led 35-3 at halftime. Scott, who had 65 yards rushing, had two touchdowns in the decisive quarter.
LSU (8-5) lost three of its last four regular-season games but regrouped for the dominant bowl victory.

ESPN Fast Facts:
• LSU won its fourth straight bowl game and has scored 38-plus points in each game.
• Dating back to 1995, LSU has won 10 of its last 12 bowls. LSU has also won five straight games vs. Georgia Tech and 18 straight against the ACC (six straight in bowls), a streak which dates back to a 1958 victory over Duke.
• The SEC has won four straight Chick-fil-A Bowls when matched up with the ACC.
• LSU improved to 5-0 in Chick-fil-A Bowls (formerly known as the Peach Bowl). Georgia Tech falls to 0-4 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images and Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

UNC-NEVADA, SO MUCH FOR CONVENTIONAL WISDOM

No. 1 NORTH CAROLINA 84, Nevada (Wolfpack, 11,962 students, Reno, NV) 61
You’d think that if you held Ty Lawson to two points and Tyler Hansbrough to six points and one of the highest scoring teams in the nation to 34 points with just two minutes remaining in the first half, you might have the No.1 Tar Heels right where you want them. You would, if where you want them is up by nine and about to go on a 7-2 run in the final two minutes to lead by 14 at the half. As we like to say here at T.A.H. – game over.

Hansbrough scored a very quiet 22 points and had just three rebounds. Lawson added 11 and Wayne Ellington 15. Freshman Ed Davis continues to excel off the bench with 8 points and 8 rebounds in just 18 minutes. UNC’s defense held the Wolpack to just under 35 per cent shooting for the game.

N.C. STATE 88, Towson (Tigers, 15,374 students, Towson, MD) 68

BOSTON COLLEGE 89, Sacred Heart (Pioneers, 4,226 students, Fairfield, CN) 76

MIAMI 94, North Florida (Ospreys, 13,934 students, Jacksonville, FL) 41

No. 5 DUKE 92, Loyola MD (Greyhounds, 3,501 students, Baltimore, MD) 51


(AP Photo/Kevin Clifford)

ACC PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Florida State’s Toney Douglas has been named ACC Player of the Week, while Virginia’s Sylven Landesberg earned ACC Rookie honors.

Douglas scored a game-high 27 points, pulled down five rebounds, handed out five assists without a turnover, blocked two shots and came up with two steals in leading the Seminoles to an 82-69 win over Western Kentucky Sunday and earning Most Valuable Player honors at the Orange Bowl Classic. The Jonesboro, Ga., senior was eight-of-16 from the floor and eight-of-11 from the free throw line as Florida State won for the 12th time in 14 games.

In earning the Rookie award for the fourth time this season, Landesberg had 26 points, six rebounds and five assists in 41 minutes as the Cavaliers opened their conference schedule with an 88-84 overtime win at Georgia Tech Sunday. The Flushing, N.Y., product made nine-of-18 from the floor and eight-of-nine from the free throw line against the Yellow Jackets. On the week, Landesberg averaged 17.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists in a pair of Virginia victories.
(Getty Images)

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO MICHAEL VICK’S DOGS?

Happy New Year!

Michael Vick’s dogs were adopted by a variety of nice folks. Sports Illustrated did a photo essay showing some of the dogs with their new owners.

It’s a handsome bunch, and well worth a look.

(Photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice/SI)

T.A.H. PICTURES OF THE YEAR


















































































































































































































































































































Sans one greyhound photo we simply can't find...


Credits: First Round NCAA Tournament: Western Kentucky, Doug Benc/Getty Images; Beijing Olympics, Michael Phelps: Heinz Kluetmeier/SI; Super Bowl, David Tyree: Damian Strohmeyer/SI; World Series: Gary Bogdon/SI; Beijing Olympics, Usain Bolt: John Biever/SI; U.S. Open: Tiger Woods, Robert Beck/SI; World Series: Phillies Win, Chuck Solomon/SI; Texas v. Texas Tech: Michael Crabtree, Darren Carroll/SI; Final Four: Mario Chalmers, John Biever/SI; Belmont Stakes: Big Brown’s loose shoe, Heinz Kluetmeier/SI; Little League World Series: Christain Donohue, Chuck Solomon/SI; NCAA Basketball: Kevin Love, John W. McDonough/SI; NBA Finals: Kevin Garnett, John W. McDonough/SI; NHL: Detroit wins Stanley Cup, David E. Klutho/SI; SEC Championship Game: Florida wins, Bill Frakes/SI; Indy 500: Danica Patrick, Simon Bruty/SI; NCAA Tournament: Stephen Curry, John Biever/SI; NCAA Finals: Kansas wins, b Rosato/SI; Beijing Olympics: U.S.A. Men’s Volleyball wins gold, Al Tielemans/SI; Sumo Open: Trent Sabo of the U.S. (175 pounds) prepares to tangle with Bulgaria's Petar Stoyanov (354 pounds) in the open weight competition, Dustin Snipes/Icon SMI; NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest: Dwight Howard, Greg Nelson/SI; Rose Bowl: USC, Robert Beck/SI; Beijing Olympics: Chinese Gymnasts, Bob Rosato/SI; World Cup: Hannes Reichelt, Shaun Botterill/Getty Images; The Economy Explained: Sam Bradford, AP; BCS Championship Game: Matt Flynn, LSU Tigers, Nelson Chenault / US Presswire; Spanish Vuelta ’08: The pack. Manuel Bruque/EPA; Monster Wave: Kirby Brown, Andrew Buckley/Reuters; Turkish F1 Gran Prix: Giancarlo Fisichella, Shukor Janis/FP-Getty Images; NFL Playoffs: Green Bay vs. New York, Jonathan Daniels/Getty Images; Future Star: Andrew Whyte, Jr., Jessica Hill/Journal Inquirer-AP, Sydney Hobart Yacht Race: Wild Oats XI, Carlo Borlenghi-AFP/Getty Images; Beijing Olympics: Shawn Johnson, Desomond Boylan-Reuters; Boxing: Nikolai Valuev and Evander Holyfield,Walter Bieri-AP, Rodeo: Jessy Davis, Jae C. Hong-AP; 27th World Elephant; Polo Championships: Finals in Megahauly, Nepal, Gopal Chitrakar-Reuters; FIS World Cup Ski Jump: Markus Eggenhoffer, Nicholas Ratzenboeck-AFP/Getty Images; Beijing Olympics Women’s Soccer: Carli Lloyd, Marcos Brindicci/Reuters/China; Beijing Olympics: Closing Ceremony, Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post; World Cup Biathlon: Hochfilzen, Austria, Heinz-Peter Bader-Reuters; Beijing Olympics: Men’s 440, Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post and Stanford 20/20 : Denesh Ramdin (l), and Ian Bell, Jewel Samad-AFP/Getty Images.

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