Stay hungry, my friends. Or not. Either way.
The Arizona State Sun Devils come into the game 7-5, with a 5-4 record in Pac-12. While they lost their two toughest tests of the season to Oregon and USC, they did finish the season strong with a win over in-state rival Arizona and the Fighting Rich Rod’s. ASU is currently coached by Todd Graham who conducts an offense led by a trio of 500 yard rushers topped by quarterback Taylor Kelly who ran for an additional 643 but oddly never reached the end zone on the ground. All of Kelly’s touchdowns came through the air as he threw for 2772 yards and 25 scores.
The Buckeyes are 2-0 all-time against the Sun Devils with the most famous game being the 1997 Rose Bowl. John Cooper’s finest hour was realized when Joe Germain hit David Boston for the game winning touchdown with time about to expire in the 4th quarter for a 20-17 victory.
Navy comes in at 8-4 record after winning the 113th Army-Navy game on December 9th to close the season. The Middies suffered tough losses to open the season, being trounced in Dublin, Ireland by Notre Dame and two weeks later losing soundly in Happy Valley to Penn State. To be fair, amongst the eight wins, the biggest by far emotionally and perhaps from a competitive standpoint was their 17-13 win over Army in Philadelphia. The Midshipmen did what they do best in 2012: They ran for a combined 3586 yards.
The Buckeyes are 4-0 all-time against Navy and 2012 would have been no different had they met up. The Midshipmen would have no answer for the Buckeye offense and, if it were later in the season when the defense began to click, may have had little to no luck getting their ground game going either.
The BBC staff picks: Mali, Janelle, Eric, Gary, Wva, and Tim are all going with ASU while yours truly is taking the Middies in the upset. I like the heart that Navy showed in holding of Army. They always seem to appreciate these opportunities more than “regular” student athletes. Also, I’m an American and clearly everyone else on this staff is a communist if they want to pick against America. (editor’s note- Da.)
We’re back with a brand new view of arguably the ugliest bowl of 2022. These two schools got the Blues, but it’s okay cause I love Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and you probably do too. But do we love a bowl game with two interim coaches that will be replaced to start 2012? Here is a look at the whoever cares wins bowl of 2011.
The Basics: Saturday, December 31st, 2011, 3:30 PM EST on ESPN/ESPN 3, from AT&T Field (San Francisco). Illinois (6-6, 2-6 B1G) and UCLA (6-7, 5-4 PAC-12).
History: Moving from one of the last bowls of the year last year to New Years Eve, The Kraft Bowl has been in existence since 2002. Last season, it was the Nevada Wolfpack pulling out the victory over Boston College. In 2009, it was the USC Trojans yet again beating the Boston College Eagles. Before it’s run as the Kraft Bowl, it was known as the Emerald Bowl (Yes that Emerald…). What used to be an ACC/MWC affiliate bowl has now become a PAC/WAC/B1G game for the masses to enjoy.
Illinois: The Fighting Zookers have lost six straight ball games and head into San Fran with wins over Indiana, Northwestern, Arizona State, Western Michigan, Arkansas State, and South Dakota State. Yeah. It was that kind of year that found the Illini eligible. Despite hiring Tim Beckman to take over the reigns, it will be interim head coach Vic Koenning making the calls on New Year’s eve. Leading his squad will be dual threat quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, who threw for nearly 2000 yards on the year and rushed for 500 yards. Leading running back Jason Ford has been ruled ineligible for the Bowl game. Most of what Illinois does though will be based around their defense. Despite their struggles, this team has put together a solid top three Big Ten season on the defensive side of the ball. The Illini were second in the conference in sacks and a lot of that has to do with pro defensive end prospect Whitney Mercilus.
UCLA: Did you know the Bruins were in the PAC-12 championship game? Okay, a little bit inside of me belly laughed like an NCAA infractions committee member on hot Saturday. Have you ever seen a team in a bowl game that is under .500? Yikes. The reason that Dennis Erickson “retired” lies in this bowl game. Not only did Illinois defeat the Sun Devils, the lowly team from Los Angeles was able to do so too. Rick Neuheisel’s former squad heads in to San Fran for the second time in Kraft Bowl history. Gone are the days of laying down to USC, playing guitar on the radio, and accepting lowly bowl bids. Interim Coach Ben Johnson will keep the seat warm for Jim Mora. The Bruins will be led by receiver Nelson Rosario, who has made some big plays at certain times. Defensively, UCLA matches up well with Illinois as well. That is, if they want to play.
Fun Facts: The 2009 Emerald Bowl was the third highest rated bowl on ESPN in 2009; Former coach Tyrone Willingham is on the Board of Directors; The Buckeyes have never played in this bowl, but former Buckeye Linebacker Anthony Schlegel played for Air Force in the inaugural game, before transferring to Ohio State.