I have decided to roll all of the bowl reviews into one large review. The conference went an impressive 4-1, but should have ended up 5-0 if not for Air Force who gave up a 21 point lead to Cal in the Armed Forces Bowl.
This game was a good one once you got to the 3rd quarter. The first quarter was marred by turnovers on both sides and then Navy took a 10-7 lead going into the half. The Utes in the first half seemed to not throw the ball because Offensive Coordinator Andy Ludwig only threw 5 passes. Navy was doing its usual run attack with a lot of success, but the turning point in the game came when Ludwig decided to open up the play book and then the Utes pass in this game. The third quarter really started the scoring for the Utes and the game started to look like a blowout. The third quarter Brian Johnson was allowed to throw and when 9-9 and a touchdown pass. The game was getting out of hand at 28-17 and the game seemed to be over but Navy made a comeback to score and get back within 3 points. With Utah unable to score when inside the 5 yard line, Navy took over at their own one, but should have had the ball at the 20 with a blown call when a Ute player dove for the endzone when the ball went out by the pylon but was allowed to keep the ball at the one. Navy goes three and out and Utah has the ball at the Navy 9 with under two minutes, and I assumed the game was finally over. I thought the Utes would take a knee and run the clock out but they score a TD. With so little time left the game seemed over but Navy with their resilience scored a quick score and scored an onside kick and that was interesting. Then Utah picked off Navy after a great kick off return. This game had its moments with Navy up big, Utah up big, and just back and forth. One amazing stat is that Navy had only 9 three and outs all year and then in this game Utah held them to 4 three and outs in this entire game. This win was the Utes 6th straight bowl win, second behind BC.
This game was thought to be close with star RB Rodney Ferguson out for being academically ineligible. Ferguson accounted for 75% of their rushing attack and even though New Mexico has a great passing game everything was set up by the run. Well with New Mexico playing at home and scoring a 60 plus yard TD pass within 2 minutes of the game Nevada never had a chance. The Lobos had great special teams with good returns and their defense that held the Wolfpack to 210 total yards in this game. The key stat of the game is that this is New Mexico ended a 46 year bowl skid.
The sequel did bring the hype this game for drama and defense, but it seemed that BYU was more focused what a win would mean for them next year then the actual game which is why I feel that they struggled. First off for BYU they should have dominated because they have been one of the hottet teams in the country and also that UCLA was without their head coach and playing one of their backup QB's. The game was ugly with only 3 second half points, and BYU's potent offense did very little because the entire running game had less then 100 yards and Max Hall did have 2 TD passes but less then 250 yards total. There were 2 plays that changed the shape of the game. The first was near the end of the half when UCLA pinned BYU inside their 10 with under 20 seconds. UCLA had no plans to call a timeout because BYU could run the clock out but Coach Mendenhall decided to hand the ball off to Harvey Unga and he fumbled the ball, why they did not knee is still a mystery to me. Then UCLA goes on to score a TD to end the half to bring the score to 17-13 to end the half. Then the ultimate play was that blocked field goal that preserved the win, but before the field goal BYU who has a good defense allowed UCLA to drive the length of the field and allowed UCLA to even get a chance was disappointing. BYU did win which is the main goal but for the conference champ to sneak by a 6-6 Pac-10 team does not look good.
This was an exciting Texas Bowl between the two Texas schools Houston and TCU. Even though TCU RB Aaron Brown did not play TCU got its offense from inconsistent QB Andy Dalton who threw for 249 yards and ran for one score. Houston their offense came to no surprise through the passing which netted 335 yards and their lone TD. The game itself was a battle between defense (TCU) and offense (U of H) and defense won the game which is a reason why TCU was able to win this game. Heading into a tie 4th quarter RB Joseph Watts from TCU scored the go ahead TD which also happened to be his first score since game number one, and then TCU added some insurance with a field goal. However the Cougar offense scored a quick strike with less then 2 minutes left to get within one score, but missed the onside kick which allowed TCU to win. Interim coach Chris Thurmond for Houston looked confused with his team early on, but to his credit got control of his team to make this an exciting game. This bowl loss for Houston extended their losing streak to 8 games and their last bowl win came in 1980 in the Garden State Bowl.
Air Force was denied their 10th win of the year, even though the Armed Forces Bowl looked to be a blow with Air Force up 21-0 early in the first half. There are a few reasons why this game had Air Force to a quick start and for Cal's comeback, first off Senior QB Shaun Carney injured his knee when he stretched for a TD in the 4th quarter with the game close. Carney before he left had been 5/8 with 68 yards and one score, plus 108 yards rushing before being taken out of the game. As for Cal star receiver and return man DeShaun Jackson was suspended for the first quarter along with another starting running back Justin Forsett who both sitting out the first quarter made a huge impact. Jackson ended up with 81 yards and a TD, plus his impact as a return man was huge, then Forsett made the biggest impact with 140 rushing yards 2 TD's and also had 21 yards receiving. Those two players were a huge success when Cal was in the top 5, but still with a 21-0 lead Air Force should have won, but when Cal had their 2 best offensive stars return to the game and when Shaun Carney gets knocked out late it is tough to win. Air Force had a great season and almost finished off the perfect bowl season for the conference.