NCF Nation: John Williams
Cincinnati dug out of an early 16-0 hole Thursday night and defeated Duke in a thrilling Belk Bowl, 48-34. Here's how it went down:
It was over when: Brendon Kay hit Travis Kelce for the longest touchdown in Belk Bowl history, 83 yards, as the tight end went untouched for the deciding score with 44 seconds remaining. On Duke's ensuing possession, Maalik Bomar drilled Sean Renfree and Nick Temple came up with the pick, returning it 55 yards for the touchdown with 14 seconds left to make it 48-34.
Game ball goes to: Cincinnati had a number of offensive players who put up huge numbers and are more than worthy of this honor, but in the end you have to go with the man who orchestrated the attack. Kay completed 17 of 25 passes for 332 yards with four touchdowns, and he added 76 rushing yards on 10 carries.
Stat of the game: Pretty simple: Duke turned the ball over four times, including twice in the red zone. Cincinnati never turned it over, giving the Bearcats just enough in a game it ended up being outgained by a slim 560-554 margin.
Unsung hero of the game: With Duke facing a second-and-goal from the Cincinnati 5 with less than 2 minutes to play in a tied game, Brandon Mills forced a Josh Snead fumble, with John Williams recovering it. Kay hit Kelce for the game-winner four plays later. Greg Blair also deserves credit for forcing -- and recovering -- a Jela Duncan fumble in the second quarter right before Duncan broke the goal line. A touchdown there would have added to Duke's early 16-3 lead.
What Cincinnati learned: These Bearcats deserve plenty of credit. Playing under interim coach Steve Stripling, following the departure of Butch Jones to Tennessee, Cincinnati fell behind 16-0 early to a team playing close to home. The Bearcats could have easily folded. Instead, they recovered to take the lead before halftime, forced timely turnovers and walked away with their 10th win of the season, their fifth 10-win campaign in the past six years, marking an unprecedented stretch in program history.
What team Duke learned: The Blue Devils made it to a bowl game for the first time in 18 years, but they could not snap their 52-year streak without a bowl win, despite starting off hot and having a number of opportunities to put Cincinnati away. The loss means the ACC cannot finish with a winning record this season against the Big East, which leads the season series 5-4 with one game remaining between the conferences. (Virginia Tech-Rutgers in Friday's Russell Athletic Bowl.)
Still want more? Head over and read Pat Forde's piece on Notre Dame strength coach Paul Longo.
But here's a look at who's beefing up players across the Big 12. So the next time your favorite player flashes a flex after a touchdown, remember who had a lot to do with that.
Baylor -- Kaz Kazadi
Kazadi, a 1997 graduate of Tulsa, came to Baylor in January 2008 and also serves as the assistant athletic director. He was also the assistant strength coach for the Kansas City Chiefs after a short stop at the University of Missouri. He played professionally after being drafted by the St. Louis Rams and received his Master's degree from the University of Missouri.
Colorado -- Jeff Pitman
Pitman came to Colorado in May 2006 after seven years as the head strength and conditioning coach at his alma mater, Boise State. He helped the Broncos win six WAC titles during that span and played center from 1990-92. Before coming back to Boise, he worked as an assistant strength coach at Minnesota.
Iowa State -- Yancy McKnight
McKnight came to Ames in 2009 via Houston, where he was the coach at Rice. He's coached under Les Miles and Todd Graham and helped develop pros like Tatum Bell, Kevin Williams and Antonio Smith. He's a graduate of Missouri Southern State in Joplin, Mo.
Kansas -- John Williams
Williams coached at South Carolina State before joining new coach Turner Gill at Kansas. He graduated from North Carolina A&T in 1995 and has made career stops at North Carolina, Oklahoma State and Baylor. Along the way, he's helped develop seven first-round NFL draft picks and 40 NFL players.
Kansas State -- Chris Dawson
Dawson was named the director of strength and conditioning in January after leaving Kansas and coach Mark Mangino. He's coached 29 NFL draft picks in his 15-plus years as a strength coach. He's previously coached at Minnesota and his alma mater, Oklahoma, where he played linebacker from 1992-94, as well as an internship with the Dallas Cowboys.
Missouri -- Josh Stoner
Stoner served under former director and current assistant athletic director Pat Ivey before becoming director of strength and conditioning in 2007. Stoner graduated from Centenary before receiving his Master's degree at Southern Miss. Before coming to Missouri, he made stops at Tulsa and coached at Southern Miss while earning his degree.
Nebraska -- James Dobson
Dobson came to Nebraska in 2008 after spending nine seasons at Iowa as assistant strength coach. Dobson graduated from Wisconsin and got his Master's degree at Central Michigan, and now finds himself preparing to be back in the Big Ten after helping the Hawkeyes win league titles in 2002 and 2004. Before Iowa, he'd also coached at SMU. During his career, he's coached pros like Bob Sanders and Dallas Clark, as well as linemen Robert Gallery and Ndamukong Suh.
Oklahoma -- Jerry Schmidt
Schmidt has been at Oklahoma since coach Bob Stoops' arrival in 1999 and followed the coach from Florida. He'd previously coached at Notre Dame and Oklahoma State. During that time, he's earned national championship rings from all three schools and worked with five Heisman winners including Sam Bradford, Jason White, Danny Wuerffel, Barry Sanders and Tim Brown. He's also coached 28 first-round NFL draft picks. Since coming to Norman, Oklahoma's produced 48 picks, including 12 first-rounders.
Oklahoma State -- Rob Glass
Glass, an Oklahoma State alum, spent 10 seasons at Florida under Steve Spurrier before coming back home to Stillwater. He had previously been an assistant strength coach when head coach Mike Gundy played in Stillwater, but left for Gainesville in 1995 before earning to head position in 1998. He's worked with 17 first-round picks, including two Heisman winners, a Thorpe Award winner, a Ray Guy Award winner and a Golden Spikes award on the baseball field.
Texas -- Jeff Madden
Madden came to Austin via North Carolina and is in his 13th year as the assistant athletics director for strength and conditioning at Texas. Madden, a graduate of Vanderbilt, played briefly in the USFL and has made stops at Cincinnati, Rice and Colorado over the course of his 20-year career. He's helped develop over 100 NFL players, including 32 first-round draft picks and 16 Olympians. Among his pupils: Two Heisman winners and two Heisman runners-up, along with numerous college football award winners. Madden spoke to ESPN earlier this week, and we'll have a Q&A with the Cleveland native later this morning.
Texas A&M -- Dave Kennedy
Kennedy came to Texas A&M in 2008 under Mike Sherman and has coached at Ohio State, Pittsburgh and his alma mater, Nebraska, most recently. Sherman, a former NFL coach, also notes that he turned down numerous NFL jobs. Kennedy has helped develop future Pro Bowlers like Eddie George, Orlando Pace and Larry Fitzgerald throughout his career, which began at Nebraska in 1982, when he was a student assistant.
Texas Tech -- Joe Walker
Walker was at Auburn for two years before joining former Tigers coach Tommy Tuberville for each's first season in Lubbock. He's also coached at TCU, Kansas State and Pittsburgh since earning his Master's degree from Auburn in 2004 after earning a bachelor's degree from Lock Haven University in 2002.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Teams and coaches were back at work Monday for perhaps the least-inspiring schedule of games in Big 12 history. Conference teams will play only one opponent from a BCS-affiliated conference when Oklahoma meets Cincinnati. Other than that, it's time for a visit to the pastry wagon for most schools.
As such, dive in and enjoy these tasty morning links.
- Want the best indication of how the attitude has changed around the Missouri program? The Topeka Capital-Journal's Kevin Haskin details how the Tigers won by 10 points against Illinois and still were disappointed.
- Wichita Eagle columnist Bob Lutz is alarmed by Kansas' running-game struggles and how many passes QB Todd Reesing had to throw to beat Florida International.
- The cancellation of New Mexico State's game against Nicholls State this week means that the Aggies will open the season Sept. 13 at Nebraska.
- The Omaha World Herald's Lee Barfknecht bemoans a weak slate of Big 12 games this week where four Big 12 teams will play Football Championship Subdivision teams.
- Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald writes the biggest difference he could detect in Nebraska's defense was that they were playing harder and faster. But LB Cody Glenn, who led the team with 12 tackles and broke up three passes, lamented too many mistakes.
- Backup Oklahoma G Frank Alexander and basketball player Ray Willis were stabbed in an off-campus incident on Sunday morning. Also, coach Bob Stoops said senior DE John Williams has left the team and freshman OL Alex Williams has gone back home to New Orleans to help his family evacuate from Hurricane Gustav.
- Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell passed for 536 yards against Eastern Washington, but still was flummoxed by the Eagles' tricky defense.
- Mike Sherman accepted the blame from Texas A&M's disappointing season-opening loss to Arkansas State.
- Converted DE Aaron Lewis will face the challenge of filling in for suspended Texas DT Lamarr Houston -- at least for the Longhorns' game with UTEP on Saturday.
- Dez Bryant could be poised to become Oklahoma State's next standout at wide receiver.
- The Kansas City Star's Blair Kerkhoff says that lack of game preparation is the biggest culprit why mistakes were so prevalent during the first week of the season.
- Despite an impressive 45-6 rout over North Texas last week, Kansas State coach Ron Prince saw a lot of negatives.
- With injuries to Jeremy Maclin and Danario Alexander, Tommy Saunders has emerged as Missouri's most productive receiver.
- The Des Moines Register's Andrew Logue lists five items that Iowa State must do differently this season to beat Kent State. The Cyclones dropped a 23-14 decision to the Golden Flashes last season in Gene Chizik's first game.
- Colorado coach Dan Hawkins indefinitely suspended reserve OL Ethan Adkins after he was arrested for driving under the influence and suspended G Devin Head for one game for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
- Oklahoma State was among Berry Tramel's 10 biggest winners of the opening weekend of the season.
- The Waco Tribune-Herald's John Werner compares and contrasts the Big 12 coaching debuts of Art Briles, Mike Sherman and Bo Pelini.