NCF Nation: bowl index 2011

Official ACC bowl lineup

December, 4, 2011
Here's the full picture in chronological order for you:

Dec. 26, Advocare V100 Independence Bowl: North Carolina (7-5) vs. Missouri (7-5) (5 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Dec. 27, Belk Bowl: NC State (7-5) vs. Louisville (7-5) (8 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Dec. 29, Champs Sports Bowl: Florida State (8-4) vs. Notre Dame (8-4) (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Dec. 30, Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Wake Forest (6-6) vs. Mississippi St. (6-6) (6:40 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Dec. 31, Hyundai Sun Bowl: Georgia Tech (8-4) vs. Utah (2 p.m. ET, CBS)

Dec. 31, Chick-fil-A Bowl: Virginia (8-4) vs. Auburn (7-5) (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Jan. 3, Allstate Sugar Bowl: Virginia Tech (11-2) vs. Michigan (9-3) (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Jan. 4, Discover Orange Bowl: Clemson (10-3) vs. West Virginia (9-3) (8 p.m. ET, ESPN)

The Big Ten's complete bowl lineup

December, 4, 2011
The Big Ten is sending a league-record 10 teams to bowl games this season. The conference is sending two teams to BCS bowls for the seventh consecutive season and for the 10th time in the 14-year history of the BCS.

Here's the complete Big Ten bowl lineup, from the earliest game to the latest:

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (Dec. 27)
Purdue vs. Western Michigan, 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Insight Bowl (Dec. 30)
Iowa vs. Oklahoma, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas (Dec. 31)
Northwestern vs. Texas A&M, noon ET, ESPN

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (Dec. 31)
Illinois vs. UCLA, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

TicketCity Bowl (Jan. 2)
Penn State vs. Houston, noon ET, ESPNU

Outback Bowl (Jan. 2)
Michigan State vs. Georgia, 1 p.m. ET, ABC

Capital One Bowl (Jan. 2)
Nebraska vs. South Carolina, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN Gator Bowl (Jan. 2)
Ohio State vs. Florida, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO (Jan. 2)
Wisconsin vs. Oregon, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN

Allstate Sugar Bowl
Michigan vs. Virginia Tech, Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Mississippi State facing Wake Forest

December, 4, 2011
Mississippi State will play Wake Forest in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl on Dec. 30, in Nashville, Tenn.

Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen has now taken Mississippi State to back-to-back bowl games, something that hasn't happened to this program since the Bulldogs went to three straight from 1998-2000.

More was expected from the Dawgs after last year's nine-win season, but getting to the postseason should help ease the pain of not being as competitive in the West as some predicted Mississippi State to be.

Wake Forest probably doesn't want to have anything to do with the SEC at this point. The Demon Deacons have to still be smarting after losing 41-7 at home to Vanderbilt in the season finale.

Utah to the Sun Bowl

December, 4, 2011
Utah will face Georgia Tech in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.

Here's the official release:

Georgia Tech and the University of Utah have both accepted invitations to participate in the 78th annual Hyundai Sun Bowl, announced Sun Bowl Association football selection committee chairman John H. Folmer. The game will pit the Yellow Jackets and Utes on Saturday, Dec. 31 at noon (MST) at Sun Bowl Stadium. The game will be broadcast for the 44th consecutive year on CBS.

“We’re tremendously excited about a great matchup between two great programs from outstanding conferences,” said Mike Rogers, Sun Bowl Association president. “Georgia Tech defeated ACC champion Clemson earlier this season while Utah comes to El Paso having won five of their last seven games.”

The 2011 Hyundai Sun Bowl will mark the second meeting between these two teams. The only other meeting was in the 2005 Emerald Bowl when Utah defeated a 13th-ranked Georgia Tech, 38-10.

“This matchup provides El Paso the opportunity to see two great scoring offenses with very contrasting styles of play,” Sun Bowl executive director Bernie Olivas said. “This game has a potential to be a high-scoring affair.

Georgia Tech (8-4, 5-3 ACC) finished second in the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division and is making its second appearance in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. The Yellow Jackets defeated Texas Tech, 17-9, on Dec. 19, 1970.

"Our team is excited for the opportunity to play in the Hyundai Sun Bowl," Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. "Our players worked hard this season and we're excited to have another game to play.

"We will face a very good Utah team that played its best football down the stretch. Coach (Kyle) Whittingham and his staff do a very good job and they will be very prepared."

This is the Yellow Jackets’ 15th consecutive bowl appearance, tied for the fourth-longest active streak among FBS schools, and will play in their 40th bowl game overall (22-17) tying for the 12th most nationally.

Utah (7-5, 4-5 Pac-12), is also making their second appearance in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. The Utes shut out New Mexico, 26-0, on New Year’s Day in 1939. It marks the 10th bowl in 11 years for the Utes and the seventh under head coach Kyle Whittingham and the program’s 17th appearance in a bowl game.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to represent the Pac-12 Conference in the Sun Bowl,” said Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham. “This is a longstanding and prestigious bowl game and we are looking forward to playing in El Paso. A Utah team has not played in this bowl in over 70 years so there should be a lot of intrigue and interest from our fan base and around the country.

“We’re proud that yet another Utah senior class will be playing in its fourth postseason game and that is a testament to the commitment our players bring to the program year in and year out.”

Auburn headed to Chick-fil-A Bowl

December, 4, 2011
Auburn will play Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta inside the Georgia Dome on December 31, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The defending national champs went through some growing pains on the Plains, but showed some grit throughout the season. There is a lot of talent on that team, but all that youth ended up being a little too much.

“We’re extremely excited to be traveling to Atlanta to play a very good Virginia team in the Chick-fil-A Bowl,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. “I know our players are excited for this opportunity and I look forward to our fans helping pack the Georgia Dome on New Year’s Eve.”

This is the fifth Chick-fil-A Bowl for the Tigers and they'll be right back in the Georgia Dome to play Clemson in next year's season opener.

Auburn fans shouldn't sleep on the Cavaliers. Virginia finished the season 8-4 and second-year coach Mike London had his team in contention for the ACC championship right until the end of the season.
Brian Kelly's first interview since Notre Dame's Nov. 26 loss at Stanford revealed a lot more than just his thoughts on the Irish's bowl game (the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Fla.) and their opponent (Florida State).

During a conference call Sunday night, Kelly said Tommy Rees would start the bowl game, marking the sophomore's 12th consecutive start since replacing Dayne Crist in Week 1. Crist, meanwhile, had been granted a release, Kelly confirmed, though the senior's status for the Dec. 29 game remains uncertain.

Kelly said Andrew Hendrix would see some action against the Seminoles and would have a much heavier workload in the lead-up to the game.

"He's gonna have to get a lot more, as you know, because there's only two," Kelly said. "Dayne and I will have further conversations, but the way we left it is he's got a lot of work left to do working on his transfer, so he's not gonna be able to put the time in necessarily. So Andrew's gonna have to get a lot of that work because he's got to go in there and play. So his role definitely will increase in practice."

Kelly also said freshman end Stephon Tuitt, who missed the last two games with an illness, was cleared to work out last week. Theo Riddick will return to running back for the bowl game.
Arkansas will play Kansas State in the 76th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic on Jan. 6, in Dallas, inside Cowboys Stadium.

"Our team looks forward to becoming part of the long-standing tradition the Razorbacks have with the Cotton Bowl,” coach Bobby Petrino said. “I am very proud to be the coach of this team, which has stuck together all season long and kept competing. The mentality our players have demonstrated is what has allowed us to accomplish all we have this year. We’ve enjoyed success in Cowboys Stadium and the hospitality and experience the Cotton Bowl provides gives our team a special opportunity to compete together one more time. I know this game will be highly anticipated by our fans and the support they will give the Razorbacks will once again be tremendous.”

The Razorbacks sure have had some success in Cowboys Stadium. Arkansas is 3-0 all-time in Cowboys Stadium with victories over Texas A&M in the Southwest Classic each of the last three seasons.

Both teams flirted with the BCS late and Kansas State was the college football darling after that 7-0 start.

Arkansas's offense really took off late in the season before facing LSU, but you can bet the seniors want to make up for how the regular season ended.
South Carolina will play Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando on Jan. 2.

The Gamecocks have come a long way since losing starting quarterback Stephen Garcia and starting running back Marcus Lattimore. The offense sputtered along for most of the season, but has picked it up in the last two weeks of the season.

The Gamecocks defense has been solid all year and should have fun with that nifty Nebraska offense.

Fortunately for Spurrier, it won't look anything like the one the Huskers showed in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl. Spurrier watched as Nebraska dropped 62 on his Gators in the national championship.
Georgia will face Michigan State in the Outback Bowl in Tampa on Jan. 2.

The Bulldogs are 3-0 in previous trips to the Outback Bowl and are 2-0 all-time against the Spartans.

“I'm really excited for our team and especially our seniors with the opportunity to play in the Outback Bowl which is one of the premier January bowl games,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “We were fortunate to play in this game back in 2005 and had a terrific experience. This will be the first time the members of our team have the opportunity to play in Tampa and playing a top quality opponent like Michigan State will be a challenge we’ll look forward to.”

Georgia was one of the hottest teams in the country after reeling off 10 straight wins, but was blown out by LSU in the SEC championship game Saturday.

Still, this was a very good season for a Georgia team that most counted out after its 0-2 start. Bulldogs fans were ready to send Richt packing as well, but he really helped to keep this team together.

Michigan State has been a pretty fun team to watch in the Big Ten this year and it should be fun to see both of these defenses go at it.

The Spartans will no doubt be looking to avenge their embarrassing 49-7 loss to Alabama in last year's Capital One Bowl.
California fans don't like Texas coach Mack Brown after he lobbied for the Rose Bowl over the Bears in 2004.

The Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl will give the Bears a chance to get some revenge.

Here's the official press release:

Cal (7-5) has accepted a bid to play in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl against Texas (7-5) of the Big 12 Conference at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego on Wednesday, Dec. 28. The game will be televised live nationally by ESPN and kick off at 5 p.m. PT.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to play in the Holiday Bowl,” said Cal head coach Jeff Tedford, who is 79-47 (.627) in his 10th season at Cal. “They do a great job of putting on a first-class event both for our players and fans. We look forward to playing a university with a great tradition such as Texas.”

“The future of the Cal football program is bright and stable under the leadership of Jeff Tedford,” Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour said. “I have confidence that coach Tedford and his staff have our program headed in the right direction. The way we finished the regular season to improve our bowl prospects and earn a Holiday Bowl selection reflects that.”

Cal won three of its final four games, including a 47-38 victory over Arizona State in the regular-season finale to post a 7-5 overall mark and a 4-5 record in Pac-12 action. Texas is also 7-5 overall and finished 4-5 in Big 12 contests.

The Golden Bears have been bowl eligible nine of the last 10 seasons and been selected for a bowl in eight of the past nine campaigns. Cal owns a 5-2 postseason record in seven previous bowl appearances under Tedford, including a school-record string of four consecutive bowl victories from 2005-08. One of those wins came the last time the Bears played in the Holiday Bowl in 2006 when Cal defeated Texas A&M, 45-10. Cal suffered a 45-31 loss to Texas A&M the only other time the Bears played in the Holiday Bowl in 2004.

“The University of California is thrilled to be participating in the Holiday Bowl once again,” Barbour continued. “The bowl organizers do a fantastic job, and we have had a wonderful experience every time we have turned San Diego into Bear Territory.”

Cal has an all-time bowl record of 10-9-1 dating back to its first game, a 28-0 victory over Ohio State in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 1921. In addition to their two previous Holiday Bowl appearances, Cal also played in San Diego in its most recent bowl contest in 2009, falling 37-27 to Utah in the Poinsettia Bowl.

Texas holds an all-time series lead of 4-0, and was ranked in the nation’s top 10 in each previous meeting, including the last matchup in 1970 in Austin when the Longhorns prevailed, 56-15. UT also took the first matchup in 1959 in Austin, 33-0, while the other games were contested in Berkeley – 28-3 in 1961 and 17-0 in 1969.Cal and Texas have scheduled a home-and-home series for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, with the Bears visiting Austin on Sept. 12, 2015, and UT making a return trip to Berkeley on Sept. 10, 2016.

This year, the Longhorns boast a strong defense that leads the Big 12 in total defense (315.33 ypg), rushing defense (103.67 ypg) and passing defense (211.67 ypg) while allowing 23.25 ppg. On offense, Texas averages 210.42 ypg on the ground and is scoring at a 28.67 ppg clip.

Stanford headed to Fiesta Bowl

December, 4, 2011
As expected, the Stanford Cardinal were tapped as an at-large selection for the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. They'll face Oklahoma State on Jan. 2 in Glendale, Ariz.

Stanford held on to its No. 4 spot in the BCS standings, behind LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma State, guaranteeing them a spot in a BCS bowl game.

At first glance, this game appears to be a shootout in the making featuring two of the nation's top quarterbacks in Stanford's Andrew Luck and Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden.

Oklahoma State -- once on pace for a national championship berth before being derailed at Iowa State -- earned its spot by blasting Oklahoma 44-10 in its regular season finale. Likewise, Stanford was on track for a possible national championship appearance before falling at home to Oregon.

The official matchup came toward the end of the announcement show on ESPN. However, those with a keen ear probably heard Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy let it slip when he was being interviewed earlier in the show.

He was asked if his team would be able to rebound from the disappointment of not playing in the national championship, to which he said they are excited to play a great Stanford team.

Wake Forest to Music City Bowl

December, 4, 2011
Wake Forest University has accepted an invitation to play Mississippi State in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn. The game will be played on Friday, Dec. 30 at LP Field and will kickoff at 6:40 p.m. EST. The game will be televised live on ESPN.

Here is the official release:
“We couldn’t be more excited to be playing in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl,” said head coach Jim Grobe. “Our players, coaches and fans are looking forward to this wonderful opportunity in Nashville. Traveling to Nashville during the Christmas holiday will be a great experience for our families and the players.”

Wake Forest went 6-6 during the 2011 regular season and clinched bowl eligibility with a 31-10 win over Maryland on Nov. 19. The Demon Deacons finished tied for second in the ACC Atlantic Division with a 5-3 conference record. Wake Forest came within an eyelash of defeating Atlantic Division champion Clemson when the ninth-ranked Tigers booted a 43-yard field goal as time expired for a 31-28 win on Nov. 12 at Clemson.

During the season, the Deacons defeated No. 22 Florida State while also posting ACC road wins at Boston College and Duke.

“We are extremely happy to accept the invitation to play in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl,” said Wake Forest Director of Athletics Ron Wellman. “Going to Nashville gives our fans the opportunity to attend the game. We have earned the reputation that our fans do travel to bowl games as evidenced over the last few years with our trips to the Orange Bowl in Miami and the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte. This is an excellent opportunity for our team and our fans and we will enjoy our experience at the Music City Bowl.”

Mississippi State is 6-6 overall and went 2-6 in the SEC West Division which includes LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas and Ole Miss. Under head coach Dan Mullen, the Bulldogs are 19th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 19.9 points per game.

Wake Forest will be making its 10th all-time bowl appearance. The Deacons last appeared in a bowl game following the 2008 season when Wake Forest defeated Navy 29-19. The Deacons are 6-3 all-time in bowl games and have won five of their last six bowl appearances.

Under Grobe, Wake Forest will be making its fifth bowl appearance. Grobe has more bowl trips than any other coach in Wake Forest history.
It's official: Michigan is back in a BCS game for the first time since the 2007 Rose Bowl, and it will face Virginia Tech in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

The 10-2 Wolverines finished No. 13 in the final BCS standings, qualifying for an at-large bid. That was really the only question, because an eligible Michigan team is always going to be an attractive option for the big bowls, especially when Maize and Blue fans are hungry for a return to an elite stage.

The big surprise was Virginia Tech, which looked dead in the water for the BCS after getting blown out -- for a second time -- by Clemson in the ACC title game. Somehow, the Hokies got the first-ever ACC at-large bid instead of other qualified teams like Boise State, Kansas State and Baylor.

Virginia Tech, as usual, has one of the nation's top defenses and a star running back in David Wilson. This is the Hokies' fifth BCS game since 2005, but the team has struggled to win those games.

It will be the first-ever meeting between the Wolverines and Virginia Tech.

Michigan fans probably don't care who the opponent is right now. They're celebrating a BCS game -- while Michigan State fans are fuming that the rival they beat and finished ahead of in the Legends Division standings is going to a better bowl.
The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl will match UCLA against Illinois, which means both teams will be using interim coaches.

Illinois fired Ron Zook and UCLA fired Rick Neuheisel.

Here's the official release:

The UCLA Bruins, champions of the Pac-12 South division, will meet the Illinois Fighting Illini in the second Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl at AT&T Park. The Bruins and Illini will play Saturday, December 31, 2011 with a 12:30 p.m. [PST]/3:30 p.m. [EST] kickoff. ESPN will televise the game to a nationwide audience.

Bowl co-founder and the game’s only Executive Director, Gary Cavalli, noted the Bruins’ return to San Francisco. UCLA met Florida State in the 2006 contest, then known as the Emerald Bowl. The Seminoles rallied for a 44-27 victory in an offensive showcase that produced Bowl records still in place today.

“We’re thrilled to bring UCLA back to San Francisco,” Cavalli said. “The Bruins played in our 2006 game against Florida State, and we had a great experience with Dan Guerrero and the entire UCLA family. That 2006 game was a classic matchup of two premier programs that had never met before on the gridiron. It was also our first sellout and we anticipate another big crowd at AT&T Park on New Year’s Eve.

“We are also extremely happy to have Illinois come to us and produce a Pac-12/Big Ten matchup for the first time in our history. Illinois brings a great tradition to the Bay Area and this is a wonderful chance for all the Fighting Illini alumni in Northern California to see their team as well.”

The Illini opened the 2011 season 6-0 and among its early-season triumphs was a stirring 38-35 decision over in-state rival Northwestern.

Illinois’s defense is among the Big Ten’s best. Allowing just 291.8 yards/game, the Illini was second in the conference, trailing only Michigan State and just ahead of conference champion Wisconsin. Illinois was third against the run [129.1] and second against the pass [159.1]. The Illini also rang up 36 QB sacks, second only to the Spartans’ 41.

Senior A.J. Jenkins [84-1,196-7 TD] led all Big Ten receivers in total receptions and was second overall in receiving yardage. Junior Whitney Mercilus led the Big Ten in sacks with 14.5 total, 13 of those unassisted. He is one of six finalists for the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award. Sophomore LB Jonathan Brown led his team with 102 total tackles [43 unassisted, 59 assists].

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to be the first Big Ten team to go to San Francisco and play in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl,” said Illinois interim coach Vic Koenning. “Even though it’s only been around for ten years, this game has had a number of quality matchups. We are glad to become a part of the bowl’s tradition. This is a great honor and a tremendous opportunity for us.”

UCLA’s rushing offense ranked third in the Pac-12, 190.7 yards/game. The Bruins’ pass defense also was third in the conference, permitting 232.6 yards/game, bettered only by Cal & Oregon State.

UCLA’s 5-4 regular season conference record bettered that of 20 bowl-eligible teams.

Junior RB Johnathan Franklin [158-947-6 TD] led all UCLA rushers. Junior QB Kevin Prince played in 10 games overall [112-195-1,627-10 TD-7 INT], missing three due to injury. Senior WR Nelson Rosario [61-1,106-4 TD] was UCLA’s leading receiver. His 18.1 yards/catch average tied for first among Pac-12 receivers.

“On behalf of the UCLA coaching staff and players, I want to express our excitement over being offered an opportunity to continue our season in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl,” said interim coach Mike Johnson. “The next few weeks will offer all of us associated with the Bruin football team an opportunity to grow, individually and collectively, as we prepare for the challenge that is ahead of us.

“I am very familiar with the Bay Area and know that all of us will enjoy our trip and the opportunity to compete again in a bowl game.”

UCLA and Illinois have played each other 11 previous times. The Bruins have won six times to five for the Illini. The most recent meeting came in 2004, a 35-17 UCLA victory in Champaign, IL. The teams also met in the 1984 Rose Bowl when QB Rick Neuheisel guided the Bruins to a 45-9 triumph. Illinois looks for a win over UCLA for the first time since 1964.

The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl is the only bowl game dedicated to raising money and awareness about the issue of hunger in the United States. Kraft Foods celebrates the culmination of its Huddle To Fight Hunger campaign at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in four weeks. It is Kraft’s largest-ever branded initiative to fight hunger in America, with an ambitious goal to donate 25 million meals to Feeding America – the nation’s leading hunger relief organization – to help our neighbors in need.

The Rematch is official

December, 4, 2011
What seemed like a cruel joke for most living above the Mason-Dixon Line has officially become a reality.

No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama will meet again in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans.

The late push by Oklahoma State just wasn't enough for the Cowboys, as the Crimson Tide edged out OSU in the final BCS standings by .009 points for the No. 2 spot.

The Cowboys' might have blown out Oklahoma 44-10 on the last night of the season, while Alabama sat at home and watched its conference championship come down to LSU and Georgia, but that bad 37-31 loss to now 6-6 Iowa State proved to be too costly for Oklahoma State.

LSU won round one 9-6 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., back in November, but now has to beat the Tide twice in order to claim the National Championship.

Defense has ruled the day in the SEC all year, but with more time to work, we should get at least one touchdown when these two teams meet again for all of the marbles, right?