Thursday, January 6, 2011
Transfer QBs lead Delaware, E Wash to FCS finale
FRISCO, Texas -- A few years ago, Pat Devlin and Bo Levi Mitchell went to college dreaming of leading teams to a BCS bowl, hoping the computers might even land them in the national championship game.
Well, they made it to the title game -- of the Football Championship Subdivision.
Formerly known as Division I-AA, and best known as the highest level of college football decided through a playoff, the FCS will determine its champion Friday night when Devlin leads perennial Delaware against Mitchell and first-time finalist Eastern Washington.
Mitchell's college career began at SMU, about 20 miles from the suburban Dallas stadium hosting the game. He went to high school near Houston and is glad to be playing this game in front of friends, family and old teammates.
"First and foremost, I'm here for business," he added.
Devlin transferred from Penn State to Delaware. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco led the Blue Hens to the FCS title game three years ago; they won it in 2003.
Devlin led the FCS by completing 68.3 percent of his passes. He threw for 2,812 yards and 22 touchdowns with just two interceptions.
"One was off a tipped pass, one was off what we thought should have been a pass interference where the wide receiver got knocked down," coach K.C. Keeler said. "He's a very talented young man, and probably his greatest attributes were the mental part of his game."
Eastern Washington was ranked No. 1 in the final regular-season polls by coaches and by The Sports Network/Fathead.com. Delaware had been No. 1 the previous week, but lost its finale and dropped to fifth in both polls. Both teams come into this game 12-2.
Eastern Washington's star running back Taiwan Jones is unlikely to play because of a foot injury.
The game is being held in Frisco, at the home of an MLS club. This is the start of a three-year run here, following 13 straight years in Chattanooga, Tenn. However, the game will be overshadowed locally by the Cotton Bowl in nearby Arlington, which kicks off about an hour later.
The new location is part of many changes for this game.
It used to be held before the bigger Division I teams started their bowl season. But now there's an extra round created by the expansion from 16 teams to 20. There also was more down time following the semifinals. The teams have been resting since Dec. 17-18.
Eastern Washington drew as much attention this season for its field as for its success. That's because its new turf is red. They even brought a splotch for good luck.
"We still were brought up on a green field, so I think we'll be OK when we step out there," said linebacker J.C. Sherritt. "But it's good to have a little piece of that with us."
Sherritt on Thursday received the Buck Buchanan Award as the top defensive player in FCS.