Thu Dec 29 07:57am EST
Making the morning rounds.
• Going out with a bang. In third-rate December bowls, it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game, and Air Force and Toledo played the Military Bowl just right: Four quarters of dueling touchdowns, capped by an all-or-nothing gamble for the game.
Trailing 42-35 with just under a minute to play, Air Force quarterback Tim Jefferson hit receiver Zack Kauth for a 33-yard touchdown on 4th-and-3 — the Falcons' second fourth down conversion of the drive, and fifth of the game — pulling AFA within an extra point of (probably) sending the game to overtime. Instead of settling for the tie, though, the Falcons doubled down on a fake PAT… which failed miserably when kicker Parker Herrington botched the option pitch from punter/holder David Baska, sealing a 42-41 win for the Rockets and their brah-some new coach, Matt Campbell.
So Air Force ends its season at 7-6, its worst record in five years under coach Troy Calhoun, after passing on a promotion to the Big East. For daring greatly with the game on the line, however, the Falcons take their place as the big ballaz of the bowl season. [Toledo 42, Air Force 41]
• Going out with a whimper. Meanwhile, Cal and Texas put on a display of how not to end a season in the Holiday Bowl, combining for just 450 yards on 3.5 per play in a 21-10 Longhorn win. As uninspired as Texas looked on offense — the 'Horns went three-and-out six times, and two of their three touchdown drives started on Cal's side of the field — at least it managed to hold on to the ball. The Golden Bears did not, coughing the ball up four times in addition to an early interception by quarterback Zach Maynard, who was sacked six times and may have been the only person in the stadium or watching at home who didn't nod off at some point during the game. [Texas 21, Cal 10]
• See you when we see you. It's a long way off, but the Big Ten and Pac-12 have hit on a capital idea: An inter-league exchange that will match each Big Ten school with a Pac-12 school for a non-conference game on an annual basis beginning in 2017. Think of it as the gridiron version of the "ACC-Big Ten Challenge" in basketball, minus the branding. (In fact, the Big Ten-Pac-12 partnership may begin in other sports as soon as next year.) It also means the Big Ten won't be going to nine conference games anytime soon, and may wind up costing Notre Dame a traditional rival or two in both conferences.
"To me, this is a creative and inventive approach through collaboration to achieve some of the same objectives that expansion can help you with," said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott. "It gives our conference more of a national platform, more play on the Big Ten Network and higher quality programming on our network without having to expand." [New York Times, Rivals]
• Expansion works for us. In other scheduling news, Georgia will follow up this year's unusually cushy conference schedule with another favorable slate in 2012, one that dodges SEC West heavies Alabama, Arkansas and LSU for the second year in a row. The Bulldogs won't have to face incoming West member Texas A&M, either, though they do lose their traditional bye week ahead of the Cocktail Party showdown with Florida. [Atlanta Journal Constitution]
• Ain't no huddle like a Rob Bolden huddle. Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin was held out of practice again Wednesday, all but guaranteeing the start in Monday's TicketCity Bowl will go to sophomore Rob Bolden instead. McGloin and Bolden split time through the first nine games of the regular season, combining for the worst pass efficiency rating in the Big Ten until the interim coaching staff settled on McGloin as the full-time starter following Joe Paterno's ouster on Nov. 9. As of Wednesday, though, McGloin still hadn't been cleared to play since suffering a seizure and a concussion in a locker room fight with receiver Curtis Drake earlier this month. [Philadelphia Inquirer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
• RIP. Both Texas A&M and Northwestern will wear special decals in Saturday's Meineke Car Care Bowl to honor late A&M lineman Joey Villavisencio, who died last week in a car crash. The decals will read "67 Joey V," reflecting Villavisencio's jersey number. "We were trying to get the whole offensive line to wear it but I don't think the NCAA would allow that," said offensive lineman Danny Baker, who spoke at Villavisencio's funeral and will wear the 67 jersey in his former teammate's honor. "I'll represent him the best way I can." [San Antonio Express News]
Quickly… A handful of Oregon players spent their first night in Los Angeles trapped in an elevator. … TCU is in line to replace Texas A&M as Texas' annual Thanksgiving rival. … Landry Jones puts off his NFL decision until Jan. 15. … Bruce Ellington leads South Carolina's basketball team to victory before catching an early flight to the Gamecocks' bowl game. … Nick Saban doesn't understand why a rematch for the national championship is such a big deal. … And finally, someone has thrown Saban's name into the ring at Penn State.