Today's lineup, six bowls, one day. Let's go!
Time for me to jump into the fray and provide comments on this, the best holiday of the year as the events happen. First up, we have Tennessee vs. Penn State on ESPN in the Outback Bowl. The network is reporting that Joe Paterno will coach from the box, still limping around on the leg.
Predictions are flying in with the Gameday crew taking Tennessee unanimously in the Outback. The Cotton Bowl sees Auburn against Nebraska, both taking Auburn. Wisconsin vs. Arkansas in the Capital One Bowl. The first difference comes here as Corso takes Arkansas, Herbstreit takes Wisconsin. Both come back to agreement taking West Virginia over Georgia Tech. Corso takes Boise State to "slay Goliath", whereas Kirk plays the right move and takes Oklahoma. Both take Louisville in a romp.
Then the game I care about, the Sugar Bowl. Corso says LSU big, Kirk says an "overconfident" LSU has to hold on to beat Notre Dame.
Predictions for the Ohio State - Florida game will get their own show.
So that is the start of the day for now, I'll update as things happen, focusing on red zone and momentum plays.
11:06 AM - So far, Penn State QB Anthony Morelli is 2-for-2, moving the ball right down the field against the Volunteers. Minus a false start penalty, the Lions have moved the ball forward on every play. Tennessee stiffens, forcing 3rd and 8 and the Lions come up just short. 45-yard field goal attempt is wide left. Penn State moves the ball, but Tennessee gets the stop when needed.
11:25 AM - Two passes to Jason Swain get the Vols set up in Penn State territory at the 35. A blase run play gets the Vols a couple of yards. Ainge goes back to the air to Meachem, bringing up a third down. Tennessee should understand that Penn State will keep dropping guys back in zone coverage - its a Nittany Lion staple. Vols call a timeout.
11:29 AM - Third and short after a timeout and the Vols stop themselves with Ainge throwing to a spot where the receiver ran the wrong route. 44-yard field goal is good. Tennessee 3, Penn State 0.
11:34 AM - Cotton Bowl coverage from Dallas signs on and there are plenty of empty seats in the Auburn section. Nebraska didn't really bring everyone either. They might report a sellout today but that will be based on tickets sold, not tickets used.
11:42 AM - The first quarter comes to a close in Tampa with Tennessee still leading 3-0. Both teams are moving the ball, but shutting down each other on third down. Good job by ESPN's sound crew picking up Tennessee coach Philip Fulmer yelling at his return man who fielded a punt inside the five-yard line. The broadcasters mentioned planting your heels at the 10-yard line and not catching anything over your head. Fulmer was heard saying the exact same sentiment.
11:46 AM - The early returns in Dallas show a team that is super motivated in Nebraska whereas Auburn has the body language that matches their fans' interest in this game. Nebraska is slicing through the Tiger defense. UPDATE: Fumble by Tennessee sets up Penn State at the 24-yard line.
11:50 AM - Nebraska seemingly stops themselves after a holding call sets up a 3rd and 19. The Huskers convert on a shovel pass for exactly 19 yards. A run play and an incomplete pass put Nebraska in third and long again. They take a timeout.
11:52 AM - Penn State gets a first down inside the 15-yard line. Turk McBride for Tennessee smashes through the line, stuffing a Penn State, second-down run. A false start makes it third-and-14 for the Lions, which turns into another field goal attempt. Kevin Kelly converts for Penn State, tying the game, 3-3.
11:55 AM - Nebraska converts their third down with a circus catch, and get a touchdown from Taylor to Swift. The drive eats 7:23 off the clock. Nebraska 7, Auburn 0.
12:09 PM - Ruben Dede of Auburn returns a batted ball 53 yards to slow down the Nebraska train. The interception sets up Auburn inside the 10-yard line. Tigers turn it into six points on a bootleg from Brandon Cox to Carl Stewart, the Tigers FB. Auburn 7, Nebraska 7.
12:13 PM - Penn State drives to the 34 and gets a pass to the Tennessee 2. First and goal for the Lions. Morelli executes a good play action to TE Andrew Quarless. Penn State 10, Tennessee 3.
12:21 PM - Auburn gets a gift after the Nebraska razzle dazzle blows up in their face. Auburn runs an out pass to WR Courtney Taylor who remains down after a hard hit with the ground. The opportunistic Tigers look to take momentum and the lead. Meanwhile in the Outback, Tennessee converts a third-down deep in their territory. Momentum is with the Lions and Tennessee sure needs to answer right before the half.
12:25 PM - Touchdowns seconds apart as Auburn cashes in the Nebraska miscue on Carl Stewart's second touchdown of the day. Auburn 14, Nebraska 7. Tennessee answers on a 42-yard romp by LaMarcus Coker. Tennessee 10, Penn State 10. Momentum has clearly shifted to both SEC schools.
12:39 PM - Delayed reaction in posting, but we have ties across the board as Nebraska marches the field again, this time helped by two Auburn personal fouls to even things up at 14-14. Auburn didn't do much with their ensuing possession and Nebraska gets another chance to drive. Momentum still to be decided. One thing to watch is that Nebraska has driven twice, whereas Auburn has cashed in on two turnovers.
1:00 PM - Two games tied at half (Outback, Cotton) with coverage beginning of the Gator (CBS) and Capital One (ABC). Four games to be blogged at once will prove interesting. To recap the earlier bowls, the SEC teams have been outplayed but are even. Auburn turned two Nebraska turnovers into 14 points, while being outgained at a 2:1 margin. Tennessee and Penn State have both moved the ball, but have not taken advantage of all their opportunities. The defenses aren't giving up home runs, but they haven't locked down either.
1:12 PM - Darren McFadden puts Arkansas in a first and goal after a 50+ yard romp. Two plays and Arkansas flips the field. The Hogs bog down and miss a 30-yard field goal.
1:19 PM - Georgia Tech and West Virginia will play in front of a 65% full Gator Bowl. This is probably the least of the four games I will watch, being a shameless SEC homer. Without Reggie Ball Georgia Tech will be hard pressed to hang, however, I am watching to see if Steve Slaton is suited up as well for West Virginia.
1:24 PM - Slaton is in the starting backfield. Owen Schmitt however, rambles 52 yards to put West Virginia off to a good start. Georgia Tech is also missing their DB Kareem Kelly and it shows as Patrick White gets the ball to the 1-yard line. Touchdown Schmitt on the 'Neers fourth play. West Virginia 7, Georgia Tech 0. Warm up the bus for Atlanta.
1:29 PM - The action is fast and furious now. Wisconsin nails a 52-yard field goal for an early 3-0 Badger lead. Arkansas held tough but Wisconsin nailed a great kick. Auburn fumbled after driving on their first possession of the second half. The play is being reviewed but Nebraska should keep possession. Erik Ainge throws his first interception in 140+ attempts as Tennessee had the ball near midfield. Momentum still all over the map in these three games.
1:34 PM - Arkansas answers with a 76-yard romp by RB Felix Jones. Arkansas 7, Wisconsin 3. Then as I flip over to the Gator Bowl in passing, Calvin Johnson hauls in a 31-yard TD pass from Bennett. Georgia Tech 7, West Virginia 7. Hold that bus.
1:39 PM - Penn State and Nebraska do nothing with their turnovers. Georgia Tech stops West Virginia on their second possession and with two sacks after their touchdown, Arkansas is in prime position to grab momentum against Wisconsin.
1:42 PM - Auburn now driving again on Nebraska. Tigers down to the Cornhusker 33-yard line after 40 yards in two plays. Calvin Johnson is the sole beneficiary of Reggie Ball's dismissal as the wide receiver catches a pass from Bennett, putting the Jackets on the 3-yard line. One play later, Tashard Choice scores for a 14-7 Georgia Tech lead.
1:50 PM - John Vaughn kicks a 42-yarder, giving Auburn a 17-14 lead over Nebraska. Wisconsin marching down on Arkansas, while Penn State and Tennessee have exchanged punts.
1:52 PM - Touchdown Wisconsin on a 22-yard pass from Stocco to Hubbard. Wisconsin 10, Arkansas 7.
1:56 PM - First quarters end in Jacksonville and Orlando. Wisconsin and Arkansas looks to be an offensive show as the ball has moved forward in big chunks more often than not. Georgia Tech's vaunted defense is starting to blitz West Virginia into confusion, making them a run-only team. Pat White limped off the field after a punishing hit from a Tech defender. In Tampa, Kevin Kelly missed his second field goal for Penn State, keeping the game tied at 10-10.
2:01 PM - 53 yard pass from Ainge to little used TE Chris Brown gives Tennessee possession in the red zone. However, the Vols fumble and its returned 86 yards by Tony Davis. The play is under review and this would be a HUGE call.
2:04 PM - Should get a call from my UT boy, Scott. Touchdown Penn State. Penn State 17, Tennessee 10. Momentum will be fully with the Lions if they can stuff Tennessee on the next possession. Calvin Johnson is having a field day with Bennett throwing him jump balls. He hauls in his second touchdown giving Georgia Tech a 21-7 lead and full control. Ignore me and my early "warm up the bus" quote.
2:08 PM - The third quarter ends in Dallas and Auburn is in the middle of a drive that began at their own 1-yard line. They are at midfield. Wisconsin converted a blocked punt of their own into a first down, but negated by penalty that helped them then re-kick and pin Arkansas deep. Good heads up by Wisconsin to intentionally commit the penalty to result in the first down that Arkansas had to accept and let the Badgers re-kick. I hope that made sense. Penn State gets their three-and-out and now control the game after a return sets them up at the Tennessee 45.
2:12 PM - West Virginia showing life again, driving to the 13 yard line of Tech. White and Slaton are getting back on track, pushing the Tech D back on their heels. Penn State converts a first down, looking to seal the deal in Tampa.
2:16 PM - 2:22 PM - West Virginia salvages some dignity, getting a field goal. Georgia Tech 21, West Virginia 10. Wisconsin drives and gets a 12-yard touchdown pass from Stocco to TE Beckum, Wisconsin 17, Arkansas 7. Penn State runs the ball on eight straight plays, Tennessee mans up forcing a field goal, but time is running out for the Vols. Penn State 20, Tennessee 10.
2:26 PM - The SEC is in real trouble. Tennessee is in desperation against Penn State. Auburn is hanging on barely against Nebraska, and Arkansas is down 17-7 to Wisconsin. My home conference could go 0-for-3 today and ruin all hopes of a blanked Big Ten to prove my theory that the SEC is superior. Come on gang!
2:29 PM - Its Georgia Tech 28, West Virginia 10. The Jackets score on another touchdown pass from Bennett to Johnson, only its James Johnson this time. Nebraska punts again, while Tennessee is facing 4th and death against Penn State, needing two scores.
2:35 PM - Penn State 20, Tennessee 10. Final. Tony Hunt finishes the day with 158 yards on 31 carries. Ainge passes for 265 yards, but Tennessee will lament the 86-yard fumble return during the offseason. Auburn looked in control in Dallas, but a late fumble with 5:24 left gives Nebraska the ball at the Auburn 42.
2:39 PM - Schmitt gets West Virginia's second touchdown. Georgia Tech 28, West Virginia 17. Wisconsin stops Arkansas going on a fourth and one. The Badgers looking to drop the hammer right before half.
2:44 PM - Halftime in Jacksonville and Orlando. Georgia Tech's Taylor Bennett is 11-for-14 for 236 yards and 3 touchdowns. Calvin Johnson needs to go to the NFL because if this is what I can expect to come to South Bend for the first game next year, I don't want it. Go pro, Cal. Meanwhile, Wisconsin was looking to drop the hammer, but threw an interception. Arkansas responded by taking the ball and going for broke, paying for it by throwing an interception deep near the goal line. 17-7 Wisconsin at the half. Auburn stiffened and kept Nebraska out of field goal range, stopping the Huskers on a fourth down play.
2:55 PM - Auburn 17, Nebraska 14. Final. Auburn converted each time they had good field possession while Nebraska had nothing in the second half after two long drives early in the first half. It was a typical Auburn win, converting off their defense to get it done. Life slows down in a hurry now as I have two games left, both at halftime. Georgia Tech leads West Virginia 28-17 while Wisconsin is dogging Arkansas, 17-7. Can the Hogs salvage the day for the SEC and can Tech QB Taylor Bennett keep up his outstanding performance in the first half?
3:21 PM - Scott called. "Disappointing" is the catch phrase coming from the Vol stuck in New Jersey. Meanwhile, in Orlando, Georgia Tech comes out of the halftime by kicking an onside kick. A jump ball to Calvin Johnson and then a run by Tashard Choice gives the Jackets a 35-17 lead. However, West Virginia answers by getting a free play offsides and throwing it deep against a defense that stopped on the play. Georgia Tech 35, West Virginia 24.
3:33 PM - Tale of two games right now with one a track meet and the other becoming a defensive battle. Arkansas is giving Wisconsin nothing on the ground, and the flash of the Hogs has been contained minus the Felix Jones TD. West Virginia is driving, but to say that a team is driving in this game is saying nothing. Pat White hits Brandon Myles in the endzone, bringing the differential down to 35-31.
3:39 PM - Two possessions for Arkansas in Wisconsin territory end with zero points. Arkansas has gone to the air too much for my liking. I am thinking that McFadden is still injured as Felix Jones looks like the better back of the Hogs. Meanwhile, West Virginia comes through with their own onside kick not by design as they have been squibbing all day. This one bounced right back to the Mountaineers. Add a 15-yard penalty on Tech and West Virginia will attempt to take the lead already in the red zone.
3:43 PM - Pat White turns a busted play into a score, registering 21 unanswered points by West Virginia to storm to the 38-35 lead. All this without Steve Slaton who started, but took himself out of the game with the hamstring injury.
3:46 PM - The fourth quarter is coming up for Arkansas-Wisconsin. The Hogs have their third straight possession in Wisconsin territory, playing the field position game. They need points, period.
3:54 PM - Arkansas cashes in with a run by Felix Jones. Wisconsin 17, Arkansas 14. Wisconsin needs to start converting because Arkansas has shut them down. They can't keep playing keep-away.
3:58 PM - The third quarter ends in Jacksonville with West Virginia leading 38-35. You get the feeling that the Mountaineers will score every time with the ball. Tech has looked good today getting the ball to Calvin Johnson. West Virginia has the momentum with 21 unanswered points, but Tech does have the ball at midfield.
4:08 PM - Tech falters, but they stop West Virginia, set to get the ball back. Wisconsin will once again start at their 20-yard line with Arkansas keeping them pinnned back. If Arkansas gets the lead, this thing might be over. WVA or Tech need more points to win this thing. I don't think 38 is enough today to beat Tech.
4:12 PM - Scene switch. Say goodbye to the two TV setup as we're headed to my brother-in-law's house. I am for USC in a house full of Michigan fans. Go Trojans? Can I really say that as a diehard Irish fan?
4:55 PM - From the highlights I can see it looks like I missed nothing. Wisconsin held on to defeat Arkansas, 17-14 and West Virginia completed the comeback, beating Georgia Tech 38-35. Time to end this thread and donate a separate thread to the Rose Bowl.