Dec 30

Bruins and Badgers Bring Home Bowl Wins

Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC  Tags:

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In the EagleBank Bowl, UCLA looked for a half like they were going to be the next chapter in the book that was Temple's miracle turn around season. But the Bruins stormed back. And in the nightcap, Wisconsin dominated Miami, but found itself needing a defensive stand with less than a minute to go. In the end, the better team won the Champs Sports Bowl as the Badgers held on. Two more bowl games are complete, and two more will go down later today.

EagleBank Bowl. UCLA 30, Temple 21.

Under fourth year coach Al Golden, Temple has had its best season in quite some time. In fact, the last time the Owls were in a bowl game the year was 1979, and not a single player on the field was even born. In 2005 - the year before Golden's arrival - Temple went 0-11. So to see them in a bowl shows that Golden knows what he is doing.

And let us not forget about UCLA. Yeah, I missed on them by having them ranked 15th in my preseason poll. But still, after being dismal the last many seasons, the Bruins are now 7-6, bowl champions, and able to say they won a game 3,000 miles away on a frozen field. On top of that, UCLA has the best football uniforms out there.

But back to the game. Temple dominated the first half, leading 21-10 going into the break. With a good balance of run and pass, Temple seemed to be in control of the line of scrimmage, and better suited for the 30 degree weather. After the season the Owls had just turned in, and the way this game was going, I just had the feeling UCLA was in trouble.

But a long field goal by Lou Groza winner Kai Forbath gave the Bruins a spark as time expired in the second quarter. The field goal must have really put life into the UCLA locker room, as after halftime it was all Bruins. A stellar defensive adjustment allowed UCLA to shutout the Owls 20-0 in the second half.

The game was capped off by Akeem Ayers second interception return for a touchdown this season. The athletic and tall Bruin defensive lineman snagged a Vaughn Charlton pass at the line of scrimmage and celebrated the three-yard journey to the end zone. A horrific snap on a punt four plays later resulted in a safety, and the final 30-21 score.

For both teams, this season was positive. For obvious reasons, just playing in a bowl was a major step for Temple. Yes, the second half implosion hurts after such a fun season, but 2010 brings major excitement as luckily Al Golden wasn't picked up by anyone. And for UCLA, winning a bowl in tough circumstances will help in their climb back up the Pac 10 ladder. At 7-6, Rick Neuheisel's second season can be deemed a moderate success, and it is now back to the drawing board.

Champs Sports Bowl. Wisconsin 20, Miami 14.

The Badgers were clearly the better team in this game. Yes, Miami managed to pull some fancy stunts at both ends of this game to make it close, but the Badgers owned the 58 minutes in-between. With a kickoff return that went 84 yards to start the game, and an onsides kick in the final minute, the 'Canes were able to stay in the game. But make no mistake about it, Wisconsin was the more physical, better prepared team on this night.

As I mentioned above, things got started with fireworks and it appeared as if Miami was going to make some noise. On the opening play of the night, Sam Shields ran almost 170 yards on a spectacular trick kickoff return. Shields started the play at the line of scrimmage, ran towards his own goal line 50 yards or so upon the kick, received the ball via a reverse as he ran another 40 yards across the field in front of his own end zone, and then scampered 82 yards with the rock to set Miami up at the 15 yard line. He actually scored on the play, but a bone-head, un-needed block put the 'Canes at the 15.

They scored on the next play, and the Miami side of the 65,000 plus Florida Citrus Bowl crowd (that was a good split between the teams) was loud and making some noise. Little did they know that the Badgers were about to take control of this game, and it would be three and a half quarters until they would score once more.

Wisconsin impressed me tonight - especially on defense. They are very big and physical at the line and at linebacker, and are quick in the secondary. All night, Jacory Harris was pressured into making bad throws, and they forced a critical fumble late in the game.

On offense, the Badgers moved the ball rather easily, so it is surprising that they only came out of this game with 20 points (one drive resulted in a touchback as UW fumbled just before crossing the goal line). For the night, Wisconsin had 430 total yards compared to 249 for Miami. They were led by John Clay, who finished with 121 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

In the quarterback battle, Scott Tolzien got the better end of things. He was 19 of 26 for 260 yards with an interception. Though he had no scoring throws, he led his team to over 400 yards of offense and kept the Miami defense on the field. The 'Canes Jacory Harris had an ok game, but never found his rhythm as he was constantly facing a big, nasty UW line. He also was dealing with an injured throwing thumb.

This was not a good thing for the ACC. Miami's loss has the league sitting at 1-3 with just three bowl games remaining. Florida State, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech will have to win, or the ACC will have a losing bowl record. For the Big Ten, this was a nice game to take. The league is currently 1-0 and has six bowl games left.

 



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