The Five Bowls Of Opening Weekend
As seems to be the custom more and more, the opening salvo of Bowl games provides upsets galore. That was certainly true with the five Bowls of this past weekend. With the Christmas Holiday fast approaching, and the powerful Big Ticket Bowls just on the year–end horizon, let's look back at some of the weekend's best action.
The Most Surprising Result: Southern Miss Upsets Troy In The New Orleans Bowl– This Sunday night love–fest between two groups of good ol' southern boys was just supposed to "tide us over" until the highly anticipated Poinsettia Bowl on Tuesday.
Forget it! This was an old–timey hum–dinger between two groups of rascals who knew how to get after each other. Disrespected all fall, the Golden Eagles blocked a field goal in overtime to secure a win over the Sun Belt Champion Trojans, 30–27. USM deserved the win in a terrific and exciting match–up.
Best Coaching Performance: Steve Fairchild Of Colorado State In The New Mexico Bowl– First year coach Steve Fairchild knew he had a tough act to follow when he replaced Sonny Lubick at the helm of the Fort Collins football program.
He demonstrated on Saturday, in Albuquerque against the highly touted Pat Hill of Fresno State, that he has learned a thing or two along the way.
Balancing the Ram rushing game of 362 yards with 257 yards of passing, CSU spotted the favored Bulldogs a 21–20 halftime lead and came back to overhaul the tiring defense of Fresno State.
The clear blue sky of the New Mexico Bowl was a perfect backdrop for the 40–35 upset victory by Colorado State. Score one for the Mountain West against the WAC.
Best Defense: South Florida In The St. Petersburg Magic Jack Bowl– Underperforming all season, the Bulls of Jim Leavitt provided a glimpse inside the rough and tumble world of Big East football when they mauled CUSA–entry Memphis, 41–14.
Memphis coach Tommy West could only shake his head in disbelief when he was informed of his team's 66 yard rushing effort and paltry 238 yards of total offense. "We were never in it" stated West. How true.
Most Disappointing Performance: Brigham Young In The Las Vegas Bowl– The Cougars believed they would roll over PAC 10 representative Arizona in another ho–hum trip to the Las Vegas Bowl.
After all, BYU was making it's 4th straight trip to the neighboring Bowl in Nevada and they had already destroyed fellow PAC10 member UCLA during the season, 59–0.
Arizona's jumped on Brigham Young early, and never let up until the final score read 31–21 for the Wildcats.
The end of a disappointing season for Coach Bronco Mendenhall's Cougars, who believed they were BCS Bowl worthy prior to the season.
Best Strategy: Jim Grobe, Head Coach of Wake Forest In The Eagle Bank Bowl– Known by his peers as a superior coach who can take lemons and create lemonade, Jim Grobe proved his mettle in the inaugural Bank Bowl of Washington, D.C.
Seeing at halftime that his Demon Deacons were being hurt by the triple option attack of the Midshipmen, Grobe pulled both outside linebackers inside and brought his corners up to cover the flanks. This adjustment shut down the vaunted Navy running attack and led to a Wake Forest victory, 29–19.
Most Outstanding Player: Gartrell Johnson, Running Back for Colorado State In the New Mexico Bowl– Playing the game of his life, Johnson rushed for 285 yards against the poor–tackling Fresno State to lead the Rams to a 40–35 upset victory.
Johnson made history by accumulating the second highest individual rushing total in Bowl history. The record is owned by Ga Tech's PJ Daniels, who ran for 307 yards in the 2004 Humanitarian Bowl.
If the opening games are any indication, this could be one of the most exciting Bowl seasons in many years. Next up is the game everyone has been waiting to see, Boise State vs. Texas Christian in the Poinsettia Bowl. Let's hope it is as thrilling as those of the past weekend.