The College Football Notebook

January 1, 2010 7:06 AM

Hail The Academies

It was great day for service academy people stationed around the world on New Year’s Eve, as Air Force and Navy not only won their bowl games, but won them big. Both punished people on the ground. Air Force started the day off by tearing apart Houston 47-20 and getting over 400 rushing yards. They also intercepted Case Keenum a stunning six times, giving further credence to the view that while you can destroy a bad team running a fun-and-gun type spread, you can’t beat even an above-average one doing that. Keenum was actually outplayed by Falcon option quarterback Tony Jefferson, and Air Force was led by running backs Jared Tew (173 yards) and Asher Clark (129).

Navy pounded on Missouri, pulling away in the second half for a 35-13 win. The Middies piled up 385 yards on the ground, and had a good day from quarterback Ricky Dobbs. He was the leading rusher, with 166 yards and also an efficient 9/14 for 130 yards in the air. Missouri got a long touchdown pass to the incomparable Danario Alexander to start the game but that was it for the Tigers.

Not only was this day a victory for the service academies, it was a long-awaited moment of triumph for those of us who still believe boring running games are the way to victory and would like to see the return of the option to college football. Now I doubt this is going to trigger even one program beyond the academies to pick up the option, but somewhere, Darrell Royal and Bear Bryant are smiling and I feel relevant again.

Oklahoma and Iowa State got the bowl season turned around for the Big 12. Iowa State nipped Minnesota 14-13, and the Sooners won an excellent game against Stanford behind a big day from Landry Jones. The Cardinal got a good performance from Toby Gerhart, but at 32 carries for 135 yards it wasn’t a dominating one. And with second-string quarterback Tavita Pritchard struggling, it wasn’t enough for the Cardinal. Still, Jim Harbaugh’s team deserves credit for hanging in as well as they did with their backup QB in the game. And Oklahoma deserves credit for showing up ready to play and getting a very nice win to end their season. They join USC & Georgia as teams that did college football a service by taking less-than-expected bowl games seriously and putting a good finishing touch on an otherwise rough campaign. Notre Dame, please take note.

Finally, Virginia Tech came up with a devastating win over Tennessee. After starting the season by getting run all over in the Georgia Dome, they end it with a dominant display of rush defense. All right, the fact the opponent was the Vols instead of Alabama probably had something to do with the turnaround. But there’s no denying how good Frank Beamer’s defense was in this one, shutting down Mntario Hardesty and controlling the second half. Ryan Williams rushed for 117 yards and Tyred Taylor made some big plays in the passing game as Tech coasted 37-14. It’s realistically too late for the ACC to have a good bowl season, but this game was a nice feather in the cap for Beamer.

Everybody have a Happy New Year! A Sugar Bowl preview will be posted here momentarily and you can find a Rose Bowl preview below. Be sure to drop in at Jeff Fogle’s Stat Intelligence throughout the day today, as he updates as the games finish, and I’ll see you here tomorrow for an overall recap.

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