Brian Kelly should be ashamed of himself after Florida’s rout of Cincinnati in Sugar Bowl

Watching Cincinnati play Florida last night was like watching 5-year olds take on the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. It was apparent from the start that the game was more of a get-together for the Gators and less of a BCS bowl.

Tim Tebow completed 31-of-35 passes for 482 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing for 51 yards and a TD. Florida’s defense also held Cincinnati’s “high-powered” offense to just 170 passing yards and 76 rushing.

After watching that game, I’d be shocked if Brian Kelly woke up this morning and could look at himself in the mirror. He was the commander and chief of a team that he allowed to walk into an ambush by themselves with little to no direction. It wouldn’t have mattered if Kelly was on the sidelines because Florida was bigger, faster, stronger and just flat out better, but he should have been there regardless.

The guy I felt most sorry for was quarterback Tony Pike. He didn’t have a chance to succeed because the overmatched, unprepared coaching staff that Kelly left Cincinnati with didn’t put him in a position to win. They kept calling bootlegs and rollouts to the short side of the field, which clearly played into Florida’s hands. He also didn’t have any clue what to do when the Gators blitzed because every time he got the ball to his hot receiver a Florida defender was there to take the wideout’s life. I could smell the crap in Pike’s draws from my couch but I don’t blame him: I blame the coaching staff for not getting him prepared for what he was going to face.

Again, had Kelly been there, it’s not likely that much would have changed. Florida was the vastly superior team in every phase of the game and it showed. But Kelly would have gained some respect had he been there to fall with the rest of his team. I realize that he has the right to a promotion and move up the coaching ladder, but it disgusts me that he benefits from all of this, while his former players suffer (especially the seniors, who were routed on national television in their final game).

Cincinnati’s effort last night was putrid, but how could you blame them? They were down a head coach and an offensive playcaller from the start and Florida took advantage by breaking their neck and stomping on their spines just for good measure. Hopefully Kelly watched last night and couldn’t keep his food down thinking about the 80-plus kids he screwed. That game was an embarrassment to college football and so are coaches like Kelly.

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2010 BCS Bowl Preview: 5 Things to Watch for in the Sugar Bowl

No. 3 Cincinnati will try to put Brian Kelly’s departure to Notre Dame behind it when it takes on No. 5 Florida at 8:30PM ET on New Year’s Day. As part of our 2010 BCS Bowl Preview, here are five things to watch for in the Sugar Bowl.

1. Cincinnati’s potent passing attack vs. Florida’s vaunted defense
Led by quarterback Tony Pike and explosive receiver Mardy Gilyard, the Bearcats rank sixth in the nation in passing offense, total offense and scoring offense. Cincinnati averaged almost 40 points per game this season and houses one of the most deadly passing games in the country. That said, they’ll be heavily tested by a Florida defense that has the third best pass defense in the nation, the fourth best overall defense and the third best scoring defense. Only Alabama (11.0) and Nebraska (11.23) have allowed fewer points than Florida’s mark of 11.54. Led by defensive backs Joe Haden, A.J. Jones and Major Wright, the Gators have virtually been impossible to throw on. Making matters worse for opponents, Florida also has a fearsome pass rush, led by defensive linemen Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap. At the center is linebacker Brandon Spikes, who is the heart and soul of the Gators’ defense. Cincinnati will certainly have to earn everything it gets come New Year’s Day.

2. The Gators’ rushing attack vs. the Bearcats’ suspect run defense
Florida boasts the 10th best rushing attack in the nation, averaging 225.23 yards per game. That doesn’t bode well for a Cincinnati run defense that is surrendering over 140 yards per game this season. The Bearcats’ defense is fast and aggressive, but struggles when opponents attack them right up the middle. In their three closest games this season, Connecticut, West Virginia and Pittsburgh all had success running up the gut. If Florida starts pounding the rock up the middle, it could take control of the game early by grinding out the clock and keeping Cincinnati’s high-powered offense on the sidelines.

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The Official Sugar Bowl Smack Talk Thread: Cincinnati vs. Florida

The 2010 Sugar Bowl will have plenty of intrigue surrounding it when the Florida Gators take on the Cincinnati Bearcats on New Year’s Day. For the Gators, Tim Tebow will be playing his last collegiate game of his career, while the Bearcats will try to overcome the loss of their head coach, Brian Kelly, who ditched them for Notre Dame.

2010 Sugar Bowl Game Information
Matchup: Florida (12-1) vs. Cincinnati (12-0)
Venue: Superdome, New Orleans
Kickoff: 8:30PM ET, January 1
Odds: Florida –10

Key Stats:
Cincinnati will have its hands full trying to move the ball against a Florida team that ranks 4th in the nation in total defense, 3rd in pass defense and third in scoring. Led by linebacker Brandon Spikes, the defensive line pair of Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap, as well as a secondary headed by safety Major Wright, the Gators have one of the best defenses in the country. Offensively, Tebow leads a group that has averaged over 225 rushing yards per game this season and over 34 points per outing.

If any team were to move the ball on Florida, it might be Cincinnati, which has the sixth best offense in college football. Led by quarterback Tony Pike and receiver Mardy Gilyard, the Bearcats rank 6th in passing offense and 6th in scoring (averaging 39.83 points per game). Defensively, Cincinnati has the top passing efficiency unit in the country and are 48th in total defense.

The Bottom Line:
Cincinnati has more than enough weapons to contend in this game, but how will they fair without Kelly calling the plays? And even though this looks like a great matchup for Florida, will the Gators get up for the Sugar Bowl after failing to reach the national title game again? One would think that Tebow would get his team up to play this game, but don’t forget Alabama quit last year in this same venue and got rolled by Utah.

Let the smack begin:

Who will win the 2010 Sugar Bowl?
View Results

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Florida, Ohio State could be down players for bowl games

According to a report, Florida will be without Brandon James for the Sugar Bowl after the all-purpose player had surgery on his right foot.

James, a senior from St. Augustine, broke a bone in foot against Alabama in the Southeastern Conference title game and had surgery last week. Florida coach Urban Meyer says Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps and Joe Haden will take over James’ punt and kickoff return duties against No. 4 Cincinnati on New Year’s Day.

James finished with 1,324 total yards and two touchdowns this season. He had 109 yards rushing, 215 yards receiving and a score, 756 yards and a touchdown on kickoff returns and 244 yards on punt returns.

FOX is also reporting that three Ohio State players will likely be ineligible to play in the Rose Bowl.

Seniors wide receiver Ray Small and defensive lineman Rob Rose and sophomore running back Bo DeLande are likely to miss the Jan. 1 bowl game against Oregon due to a violation of team rules, the Columbus Dispatch reported on its Web site.

Freshman receiver Duron Carter was declared ineligible last week.

As of Monday morning, the school had not issued a statement regarding the status of the three players, meaning the decision may not yet be final.

Both Rose and Small had academic issues at the start of spring practice this season, although each player had talked about overcoming their problems to turn in successful seasons. Ohio State has officially confirmed that the players will be held out, but it doesn’t look good.

Losing Rose would be a hit to the Buckeyes’ defensive line depth, while Small would sorely be missed in the return game and as the team’s No. 3 wideout. Taurian Washington would likely take over as OSU’s No. 3 receiver with Carter also being held out of the Rose Bowl with academic issues.

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Mandel: Ranking the Bowls 1-34’s Stewart Mandel recently ranked all 34 bowl games.

Here are his top 5:

1) BCS National Championship Game (Jan. 7): Alabama (13-0) vs. Texas (13-0). It’s the first-ever matchup of two 13-0 teams. Colt McCoy. Mark Ingram. Rolando McClain. Sergio Kindle. Yeah, I’m thinking you might want to tune in.

2) Sugar (Jan. 1): Cincinnati (12-0) vs. Florida (12-1). It’s spread vs. spread, Tim Tebow vs. Tony Pike, Mardy Gilyard vs. Joe Haden. It may be a letdown game for the Gators, but it should still be entertaining.

3) Fiesta (Jan. 4): TCU (12-0) vs. Boise State (13-0). Enough with the outrage, people: You know you’re going to watch. The nation’s No. 1 passer, Broncos quarterback Kellen Moore, goes up against the nation’s top-ranked defense.

4) Rose (Jan. 1): Ohio State (10-2) vs. Oregon (10-2). Dangerous dual-threat star Jeremiah Masoli is what Terrelle Pryor was supposed to be. But the Buckeyes present the toughest defense the Ducks have faced since Boise.

5) Orange (Jan. 5): Georgia Tech (11-2) vs. Iowa (10-2). You remember the Hawkeyes. They love low scores and dramatic finishes. With a month to prepare, can Pat Angerer, Tyler Sash and Co. stifle Josh Nesbitt and the triple-option?

That’s how I would have my top 5, although the Fiesta and Sugar bowls might be interchangeable. I love watching TCU’s defense play and I’m intrigued about how Gary Patterson will game plan to stop Boise’s offense. That said, I’m interested to see how Cincinnati responds after Brian Kelly ditched them for Notre Dame.

I know Georgia Tech’s triple-option is exciting to watch and Iowa does have a solid front seven, but that matchup just doesn’t have the same appeal as the other four. Maybe it’ll wind up being the best BCS game of the season, but the matchup offers little sizzle compared to the other top bowls.

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