Notre Dame 29, Rutgers 16
Notre Dame in the first half looked like a team that played for the National Championship last year and was now in a lesser bowl and had no interest being there. Irish coach Brian Kelly blamed the lackluster first half on several players fighting the flu bug.
In the second half the Irish ran the ball down the Scarlet Knights throats. The Irish ran for 124 yards in the second half and won a game that was closer than many imagined. Tarean Foster’s three yard score with 3:38 to play finally gave Notre Dame some breathing room and a ten point lead.
Tommy Rees threw for 319 yards but had no TD’s against a very poor Rutgers secondary. The Rutgers secondary was playing 10 yards off the receivers the entire game. Rutgers pass defense is embarrassing. Notre Dame is just dull to us. There offense is bland and brings little to the table. No wonder the younger generation doesn’t want to go there as much anymore. The Irish had to settle for five field goals inside the red zone. This was a problem all year long. This was a game that ND outgained Rutgers 494-237 but couldn’t put the game away.
Did you notice how many people looked like James Gandolfini in the stands of this one? Gandolfini was a fixture around the Rutgers program and the game was played in Yankee Stadium in hopes Rutgers would bring a huge crowd. Rutgers did have a very large fan base at the game.
Notre Dame OT Zack Martin– Martin was fabulous all year and in this game as well. Martin has gone up against the best DE’s the opposing team has to offer and he didn’t give up a sack all year long. His run blocking in this game was the difference as ND took control.
Notre Dame DE Stephon Tuitt– Tuitt had a great game that finished with him coming on strong at the end of the year. Tuitt had hernia surgery and had a very slow start to the season. He led ND with 7.5 sacks. Tuitt had four tackles and 1.5 sacks against Rutgers.
Rutgers WR Brandon Coleman: Coleman had a touchdown and 65 yards receiving. He caused an interference play as well. Coleman is a big receiver (6’6) with good speed.
North Carolina 39, Cincinnati 17
Do you believe that Tommy Tubberville is the fourth highest paid coach in college football? We don’t either. Tubberville’s wife is from Cincinnati and that’s one of the reasons he took the job. The other reason he took the job is they made him the fourth highest paid coach in the country. After watching this game you wonder why he’s the 54th highest paid coach in college football.
North Carolina looked like the more athletic superior team from the start. The Tar Heels dominated the line of scrimmage. Cincinnati had given up only 12 sacks all year long. UNC had five sacks in this game alone.
Marquise Williams took over at QB for UNC after Brynn Renner went down with an injury against NC State. Williams is big and elusive and started out a better runner than passer. The future looks bright for him as he threw for 177 yards and a touchdown along with rushing for 46 yards. Tar Heels overcame a horrific start to the season that saw them begin the year 1-5. UNC finished the year winning six of seven.
Freshman Ryan Switzer returned his fifth punt return on the season with an 86 yarder in the third quarter that put UNC up 29-3. That tied the NCAA record for punt returns for a touchdown in a season.
UNC TE Eric Ebron: Must admit we have a man crush on Ebron. What’s not to like? He’s big, athletic can stretch the field. He’s a Jimmy Graham type of player. He catches anything thrown near him as well. This freak athlete should go anywhere from 10-20 in the first round of the draft.
UNC OT James Hurst: Hurst was carted off the field in the first half with a fractured fibula. Hurst was supposed to go anywhere from late in round two to the fourth round. We will see how the injury will affect his draft status.
Russell Athletic Bowl
Louisville 36, Miami 9
The story of this game was that Teddy Bridgewater lit up a very poor defense in what should be his last game in college. Bridgewater threw for 422 yards while connecting on 34 of 44 passes. He accounted for four touchdowns, three through the air and one on the ground. Keep in mind this is a Miami defense that gave up four straight games of over 500 yards. Make it five with Louisville (554). You have to be impressed with Bridgewater’s ability to throw on the run with great zip on the ball and tremendous accuracy. At this point he would be our first pick off the board.
Every since Bobby “Easy Rider “Petrino has been at Louisville the Cardinals have recruited the state of Florida very well. The Cardinals have 23 players including Bridgewater from the state of Florida on the team. The Louisville players seemed more into the game than the Hurricanes.
Defensively the Cardinals allowed only 173 yards of offense. Stephen Morris was 12 of 27 for 160 yards. Stats don’t show that he should have had four balls picked off. On passing situations the Cardinals implored the old Kenmore West “Radar Defense”, with lineman and linebackers milling around the line of scrimmage trying to create confusion.
It worked perfectly. Morris was sacked four times in the game.
Louisville DE Marcus Smith – Smith had a great game with two sacks. The first came with Miami only trailing 16-2 and having a second and goal from the Louisville 5. Smith sacked Morris and caused a fumble that the Cardinals recovered. It was the biggest play of the game defensively for Louisville.
Louisville WR DeVante Parker- Parker showed great speed in catching nine balls for 142 yards and a touchdown. He is projected to be a third or fourth round pick.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Kansas State 31, Michigan 14
Michigan came into the game without starting QB Devin Gardner. The Wolverines were going to need a strong running game and a good defensive effort to help out Freshman QB Shane Morris. Morris didn’t get any help. To our surprise Morris wasn’t that bad. Michigan was very conservative on offense to help him out. Morris in the first half was 15 of 19 for 121 yards. What else can you ask for? He looked cool and confident. The game didn’t look too big for him. Problem is that until a final garbage TD the Wolverines had a total of 22 yards rushing.
Defensively Michigan couldn’t stop the combination of Jake Waters to Tyler Lockett. The tone of the game was set on the first series. K-State took almost eight minutes off the clock in going up 7-0. Waters hit Lockett on a key third down conversion and then again on third and goal from the six yard line. On the evening Lockett had ten receptions for 116 yards and three touchdowns. Waters was very efficient going 21 of 27 for 271 yards and the three TD passes to Lockett.
The feeling you got watching was you had two teams going in different directions not just for this year but maybe for next year as well. Kansas State finishes on a high note winning their first bowl game in eleven years and six of their last seven games. Waters and Lockett will be back next year and the K-State defense got better each week as the year went on. Michigan on the other hand slumped to the finish line losing five on their final six games.
Michigan OT Taylor Lewan: Most people don’t realize but Lewan was the offensive version of Jadeveon Clowney this year. A disappointing for a player that seemed like his head was looking towards the NFL rather than his current college team. Lewan had disciplinary problems this year. He needed to apologize for losing his composure vs MichiganState. After the OhioState game a fan accused him of assaulting him. More importantly he seemed to be too aggressive at times on the field. What we mean is he got into trouble by lunging at times after players. His pass protection against speed rushers needs work. Lewan loves to talk and dare we say has a big mouth. He has a mean streak which teams will love but at times we saw him use poor technique and opponents use it against him. He came in as by far the top OT in college. We think he still will be in the first round but not the first tackle taken off the board.