Boivin: Texas not title-worthy

Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic writes that while Texas’s 24-21 win over Ohio State in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl was impressive, the Longhorns aren’t title-worthy.

Mack BrownWith all due respect, we’d like to direct the jury to disregard the statements of Texas coach Mack Brown, who proclaimed after Monday night’s Fiesta Bowl that, “We’re obviously one of the best teams in the country, if not the best.”

If we’re to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, the Longhorns aren’t worthy of national-title consideration. They were gutsy and entertaining in a 24-21 victory over Ohio State, but by week’s end Florida or Oklahoma will prove it’s more deserving.

We direct your attention to People’s Exhibit 1, mainly Texas’ inability to find the end zone until the third quarter. In a college football postseason that has become, yawn, absurdly diluted, Texas’ quest for title respect was the most interesting story line of the night.

Until the Longhorns scored their game-winning touchdown with 16 seconds left, it was Mr. Sweater Vest himself, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, who gave the game its spice. The guy might be more sock hop than hip-hop, more L.L. Bean than LL Cool J, but he added some oomph with the way he showcased his freshman quarterback.

In a game that squared off a team that had a lot at stake against one that didn’t, Texas needed a blowout to sway opinion. It will have to live with the reality that the Bowl Championship Series got it right.

Hey, it happens.

“I wasn’t sure before tonight . . . but I’m going to vote Texas No. 1,” Brown said.

Brown is loyal. He’s just not right.

You knew if Texas didn’t blow out Ohio State that we would see 50 of these articles hit the net by Tuesday morning. No offense to the Longhorns or the Buckeyes because they played an entertaining second half, but the game didn’t matter. None of the college football games matter expect for the national championship game and even that doesn’t matter. Without a playoff, there’s no fair way to judge which team is the best in the nation so I refuse to partake in the, “Texas deserves to be No. 1/Texas doesn’t deserve to be No.1” discussions. Sorry.

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Six Pack of Observations: 2009 Fiesta Bowl

Here are six quick-hit thoughts on Texas’s 24-21 win over Ohio State in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl:

1. Quan Cosby was Texas’s MVP, not Colt McCoy
No disrespect to McCoy (41 of 58, 414 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INTs) because he was excellent, but the Longhorns’ true MVP was wideout Quan Cosby. Texas’s offense is predicated on short timing routes in which McCoy gets the ball out of his hands quickly and the wideouts getting up the field. McCoy did his job because he was outstanding in getting the ball out of his hands quickly (especially in the second half), but he doesn’t rack up over 400 yards if his receivers don’t make plays after the catch. And considering he hauled in 14 receptions for 171 yards and two touchdowns (including the 26-yard game winner with just 16 seconds remaining in the game), Crosby certainly made his fair share of plays. He also threw a key block to spring McCoy for a 14-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter that provided a spark for a UT offense that was dominated in the first half.

2. Terrelle Pryor is a special player, but he’s incredibly raw.
There’s no doubt that Pryor is a special player and it’s easy to see why he was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. But he’s got a long way to go before he’s a complete player. The way he evaded defenders to the tune of 73 rushing yards was impressive, especially with how many tackles he broke. And his touchdown catch to put the Buckeyes within two with just over seven minutes to go in the game was a thing of beauty. But how many times did he run out of bounds in the first half when he had at least 3-5 yards more that he could have gained? The one run were he went out of bounds when he could have easily picked up a first down clearly showed his lack of awareness. He also has a ton of work to do with his footwork when passing, because several of his attempts (including one on a 2pt conversion) fell short because he never set his feet. He uses his arm too much and Jim Tressel and the OSU coaching staff will certainly have to get the kid to learn how to drive his legs into his throws or he’ll wind up throwing plenty of interceptions before his career is finished. That said, he’s a phenomenal athlete and considering he’s only a freshman, he had quite a year. OSU has a special player on its hands and he’s already showed that he’s committed to becoming a better quarterback. I love his attitude.

3. Not reaching the end zone in the first half doomed OSU
The Buckeyes really missed a golden opportunity to head into halftime with a double-digit lead, but they couldn’t get into the end zone in the first half. Texas couldn’t stop Beanie Wells’ in the first half and OSU was moving the ball effectively down the field. But twice they had to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns and it doomed them down the stretch. They essentially couldn’t capitalize on how well their defense played in the first half and it doomed them down the stretch. If OSU takes a 14-3 lead into halftime, the second half obviously plays out much differently than it did and the Buckeyes probably take home the win.

4. Jim Tressel’s use of both Pryor and Todd Boeckman was excellent.
Forget the fact that both Pryor and Boeckman had major contributions in OSU’s victory. Where Tressell’s idea to use both quarterbacks really came into play was at the beginning of the game. He knew the freshman Pryor would have some jitters playing in his first bowl game, so he didn’t line him under center, but split him out wide as a receiver. What the play did was show Texas a formation they weren’t entirely prepared for, allowed Pryor to get the blood flowing without having to take a snap, and got both quarterbacks involved early in the game plan. Great idea.

5. Texas needed more from their running game.
Colt McCoy didn’t put up Colt McCoy-type numbers, but he certainly did more than enough in the passing game to beat Ohio State. But what really hurt the Longhorns was the fact that they couldn’t get a consistent running game going. The Buckeyes did a fantastic job of keeping McCoy (UT’s leading rusher this season) contained and forcing the Longhorns to run the ball more conventionally, which isn’t their style. Obviously it didn’t matter in the end because McCoy and the passing game saved them, but the Horns could have pointed to their lack of running game as one of the reasons for defeat if they had lost.

6. First down or no first down?
Many OSU fans are going to talk about the first down that was awarded to Texas on a 4th and 2 with under a minute to play. In full speed, it looked like the Longhorn receiver’s forward progress got him the first down but it was close on the replay. There’s definitely an argument to be made that he was stopped short, which would have given OSU a win.

6.5 Who in the name of everything right in this world was that blond standing next to Colt McCoy’s parents?
Holy crap. They couldn’t show her enough…

2009 BCS Bowl Preview and Predictions

The 2009 BCS Bowl Season is quickly approaching – not that anyone should care.

I’m not trying to sound bitter, but if the BCS doesn’t care about any of its five bowl games outside of the national championship game, then why should we? All the BCS essentially cares about is figuring out who the top team teams are in college football – and they can’t even do that right.

But I digress. I’m not going to burn another 1,200 words on why college football needs a playoff because it’ll just fall upon deaf ears. Instead, I’ll get into the bowl season spirit and break down the five BCS bowls, as well as hand out predictions for each game.

Predictions are essentially meaningless, but they’re fun so make sure you throw out your picks in the comment section below.

Daryll ClarkRose Bowl: Penn State vs. USC
The Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California, January 1, 4:30PM ET ABC
Some college football pundits believe that this one will be over with by halftime, but if Penn State uses Oregon State’s victory over USC as a blueprint for success, the Nittany Lions could make this a tighter game than most expect. PSU tailback Evan Royster has been a playmaker this year and if the Lions can employ him the same way the Beavers’ used Jacquizz Rodgers to beat the Trojans earlier this season, then maybe they can exploit USC’s quick defense. Then again, the Trojans’ D is one of the fastest and most talented units in the country and it won’t be easy for PSU to spread the field on them like they did against Big Ten opponents this season. USC has the most talented linebacker corps in the country and their secondary features two safeties in Taylor Mays and Kevin Ellison that blanket the field in both coverage and run support. In order for the Lions to claim victory, quarterback Daryll Clark will have to play mistake free and not try to force action in the passing game. Offensively for USC, quarterback Mark Sanchez has been outstanding, but he will make mistakes. He threw at least one interception in seven games this year and if PSU’s defense can generate some pressure, they could force Sanchez into some turnovers and capitalize on some prime field position. But outside of getting pressure on Sanchez, Penn State needs to tackle well and limit the yards-after-catch opportunities that USC’s receivers thrive upon. Sounds basic enough, but the Trojans have one of the fastest offenses in the league and Sanchez has excelled at taking what defenses give him and in getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers. The Lions would be wise to get 11 defenders around the ball at all times, especially when USC tailback Stafon Johnson gets the opportunity to make plays.
Rose Bowl Prediction: USC 30, Penn State 17.

Read the rest after the jump...

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