Nevada has added a Big Ten program and a well-regarded MAC outfit to its future schedules, booking home-and-home series with Purdue and Toledo. The Boilermakers will host the Wolf Pack in 2016 and make a return trip in 2019; the Rockets will visit Reno in 2017 and host in 2018. Looking forward to the student section signage on these: “BOIL THEM WOLVES,” “DEFUND THE SPACE PROGRAM” and “SHOOT THE ‘PACK INTO THE DEEPEST RECESSES OF SPACE ABOARD A ROCKET” are currently topping our unofficial leaderboard.
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Quick hits on the first Saturday of the 2012 college football bowl season. Recap the best Twitter action from today’s bowl games with the Campus Union Laff Riot.
• New Mexico Bowl: Arizona 49, Nevada 48: Just because this is almost exactly what we were expecting out of the New Mexico Bowl doesn’t mean it was any less satisfying to watch. Like the season proper, bowl season will contain all manner of football. There will be scoring barrages and slogs, footraces under the south Florida sun and grinding stops in the snow. But we can’t think of anything more proper to kick off the postseason than a fireworks show.
It took the Wolf Pack just more than two minutes to score their first touchdown, which seemed an appropriate length of time given Arizona’s defense. The manner of the scoring was also not unexpected, with Stefphon Jefferson motoring for a 16-yard rushing touchdown. What we did not expect to see was Arizona punting on the ensuing possession … and again on the Wildcats’ second possession. With a 17-yard scoring pass from Cody Fajardo to tight end Zach Sudfeld, Nevada went up 14-0, and the Wildcats gamely dug a deeper hole for themselves by fumbling the kickoff return. The Pack recovered, and on the very next play from scrimmage, Fajardo and Sudfeld teamed up again for a 28-yard score. (This all despite Sudfeld, according to the broadcast team, suffering from the lingering effects of stomach flu.) This being Nevada and Arizona, all this took place in the first 11 minutes of the ballgame.
The 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is just hours away. We’re sure you have so many questions. We’re here to help. (For an X’s and O’s breakdown, click through to Gabriel Baumgaertner’s game preview.)
• What’s all this, then? The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, formerly known as the Humanitarian Bowl (and more importantly, the Crucial.com Humanitarian Bowl), makes its second appearance in the college football postseason galaxy. And for the second consecutive year, it will be the only college football bowl game boasting a logo that features chives.
• Where will this game be played? Boise’s Bronco Stadium, home to the Boise State Broncos and their famous blue turf.
• When is it on television? Coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPN and streamed on WatchESPN. The Potato Bowl apparently does not warrant a 3D broadcast, saddening fans who were looking forward to exploring those pillowy mountains of sour cream from the comfort of their living room sofas.
• Whom does it feature? A most favored bloggy combo: WACtion versus MACtion!
• What about this year? The WAC champion Utah State Aggies will make their second consecutive Potato Bowl and third overall postseason football appearance in Boise. They’ll face the Toledo Rockets, who finished third in the MAC West. This is Toledo’s first appearance in the Potato Bowl.
• Is there an actual dish called a Potato Bowl available for purchase at the game? We’re looking into concession availability, but while we’re on the subject, let’s visit the Idaho Potato Commission website and its fine collection of potato-based tailgating recipes. There is something called “Deviled Eggs A La Idaho® Potatoes” happening here that certainly looks like a potato bowl-type dish.
A felicitous MACtion Tuesday to you all. Cleanse your spirit before the holiday binging begins in earnest with some sprightly weeknight college football, why don’t you?
• What information do I, the discerning sports fan, require in order to consume this game? The Zips and Rockets are scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. ET in the Glass Bowl. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and streamed on WatchESPN.
• What’s at stake here? For the Rockets, it’s time to smile pretty for the bowl scouts. Toledo’s out of the MAC West race thanks to last week’s loss to Northern Illinois, but we can personally report that Boise is lovely in the wintertime. A win tonight would mark the 20th career conference victory for this class of departing seniors. On the other end of the see-saw, feet dangling in the air, Akron still seeks its first 2012 win over an FBS team. The Zips’ lone victory this season was a 66-6 thrashing of Morgan State, way back in Week 3. If series leads crank your tractor, tonight will also break an 8-8 all-time tie between these two programs.
• Northern Illinois 31, Toledo 24. We do so love what’s become an annual late-season scramble for division supremacy between the Huskies and Rockets, and last night’s contest did not disappoint. The Huskies, who have won 10 games for the third straight year, will represent the MAC West in Detroit for the third consecutive season, and will face either Kent State or Bowling Green once they get there. Quarterback Jordan Lynch threw for 407 yards (a career best) and rushed for 162 more. No, by himself. No, seriously. Lynch was sent here by the football gods to make sure we all properly appreciate MACtion for the weeknight blessing it is. Message received. [BOX | RECAP]
• Ball State 52, Ohio 27. The Bobcats trailed by four points heading into halftime and were nearly doubled up by the end of the game, thanks mostly to a 21-point fourth-quarter scoring barrage from the Cardinals. Ball State scored three touchdowns in less than nine minutes on a Horactio Banks run, a Kelly Page pass and a Jahwan Edwards run. Page replaced starter Keith Wenning, who left the game in the second quarter with an Achilles injury. Also, this happened. [BOX | RECAP]
Our weekly highlight show of lesser FBS luminaries. Non-AQs and independents, be welcome.
Tis the season for car commercials with big-ass bows and conference math. We attempted to explain, in bewildering detail, how the MAC races could shake out from here in our Wednesday night MACtion preview. We are here to inform you (with some glee, as we adore late-season chaos) that the MAC has far from the most convoluted conference race situation at the moment. Very quickly, the current states of the remaining non-AQ conference races, as teams not named Navy or BYU begin to prettify themselves for postseason suitors:
• Conference USA: Two teams with perfect 6-0 league play records top the two divisions: Central Florida in the East and Tulsa in the West. After Saturday, one squad’s record will bear some blemish when the two clash in Tulsa, but don’t expect that to affect the race. The Knights have only UAB to clear after that in the regular season, and hold a head-to-head advantage over East Carolina, the only other team in the division with fewer than three conference losses. Tulsa’s championship game aspirations could still be spoiled with a loss tonight and another at SMU November 24, assuming the Mustangs (4-2 in league play) beat Rice in the meantime.
Make tonight a MACtion night, won’t you? We’re here to answer any questions you may have, as long as they do not involve divining a winner of the MAC East.
Ohio at Ball State
• What information do I, the discerning consumer, require in order to consume this game? The Bobcats and Cardinals are scheduled to kick off at 8 p.m. ET at Scheumann Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPNU and streamed on WatchESPN.
• What’s at stake here? Jockeying for bowl invites, mostly. Both squads have clinched bowl eligibility, with 8-2 Ohio and 7-3 Ball State each holding a 4-2 record in the conference, respectively.
As to whether Ohio can still win the MAC East: If Kent State loses its last two games, giving it two conference losses, one would have to be to Ohio in the regular-season finale. That would leave both teams with identical 6-2 league records, and Ohio would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Golden Flashes.
But Bowling Green — which is 5-1 in the MAC and beat Ohio last Wednesday — plays Kent State Nov. 17. Both teams can’t lose (and the MAC is very, very good this year, so that isn’t even a joke!), so while the Bobcats could end up tied with the Falcons at two losses apiece, they’ve already lost the tiebreaker.
Ball State, too, has two teams sitting above it in the West standings, Northern Illinois (6-0 in the MAC) and Toledo (5-1). The Cardinals lost to the Huskies in October, so even a two-game skid by NIU wouldn’t help them at all. Ball State holds a head-to-head advantage over Toledo, but a Rockets loss to NIU would only be enough to nudge the Cardinals into second place in the division.
That all make sense? We have now thoroughly confused ourselves, to the point where general consensus in our office is that Johnny Manziel will probably win the MAC East, by himself.
Our weekly highlight show of lesser FBS luminaries. Non-AQs and independents, be welcome.
• Broncos and Bulldogs and bustin’. If you follow our pre- and midseason Crystal Ball projections, you know how hilariously bad we are at predicting which teams will land in which bowl games. But after a second loss, even Boise State’s new-money brand-name recognition won’t keep the Broncos afloat in the polls. So what does this mean for our early-season busting favorites, the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs? Quoth our designated postseason prognosticator, Stewart Mandel: “Louisiana Tech, No. 20 in the standings this week, may be that group’s lone hope, but the Bulldogs need to beat 8-2 Utah State in two weeks, climb at least four spots and hope BCS No. 16 Nebraska loses so that Tech finishes ahead of an AQ champ.” Same as it ever was when it comes to non-AQs with aspirations of crashing the party: Win big, and hope bigger. A perfect run through November won’t be easy for LaTech. Texas State should pose no problem in Week 11, but neither Utah State nor San Jose State are any kind of pushover.
Sonny Dykes, as ever, prefers to marvel at where he’s gotten this team once he gets there, and only then: “If we go and do not play well Saturday, Texas State will beat us and that will end all of the discussion. We have to worry about playing well this week, and like I said, when it is all over with, we will kind of look up and say, ‘Wow, here we are.’”
Tonight in America, you have a choice of talking heads. Choose Joe Tessitore, Desmond Howard and Tuesday night MACtion.
• What information do I, the discerning consumer, require in order to consume this game? The unranked Cardinals (6-3, 3-2 MAC) and No. 23 Rockets (8-1, 5-0 MAC) are scheduled to kick off at 8 p.m. ET in the Glass Bowl. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and streamed on WatchESPN.
• So what’s at stake here? Ball State won’t grab control of the MAC West by season’s end, not with its remaining schedule, NIU and Toledo both still undefeated in conference play and the Huskies already holding a head-to-head advantage over the Cardinals. (The Huskies and Rockets will settle their own score next Wednesday night.) But the Cardinals could still spoil the Rockets’ run at a division title with a win here, and it’s a Tuesday night MACtion game presided over by JoeTess. So, as usual with weeknight football, You Never Can Tell.
• The greatest p.r. email we have received on this job begins thusly: “Tuesday, November 6th is Election Night for the country but it’s also a decisive night in the battle for the West Division crown of the Mid-American Conference. The Toledo Rockets host Ball State on Nov. 6 in a nationally televised contest at the Glass Bowl (8:00 p.m. / ESPN2) in what could help determine the eventual MAC champion.” We should probably get this framed. Preview coming later this afternoon for tonight’s game, right after Profiles in Profiteroles.
• Roster blotter: Matt Scott was, in fact, concussed against UCLA, and is questionable for Arizona’s game against Colorado … Washington State’s company line on Marquess Wilson is that Marquess Wilson is suspended … Bret Bielema is keeping the details of Wisconsin’s late-season quarterback race to himself … Boise State defensive tackle and internet favorite Mike “Bacon” Atkinson is through for the year with a torn ACL.
• Mack Brown trolls message boards all night long just writing “STAY CLASSY:” Because if there’s one real big problem college athletics has right now, it’s a lack of respect conveyed through hand signals and signs, amirite?