Gators Chomp Bearcats 51-24 Behind Tebow’s 500-Yard Game at Sugar Bowl

Tim Tebow got everything he could from his final game as a Florida Gator, passing for nearly 500 yards and rushing for 50 more, as the Gators crushed the Cincinnati Bearcats 51-24 Friday night in the Sugar Bowl.

The strife of Urban Meyer’s health and Tim Tebow’s departure ruled the headlines during the days leading up to the game, and if the Sugar Bowl was Meyer and Tebow’s swan song, it was certainly a flawless one.

From kickoff it seemed as though the Bearcats were overmatched. Quarterback and team leader Tony Pike was pressured throughout the night, unable to hit his strong wide receiving core down field and flushed from the pocket all night.

In fact the Bearcats didn’t find the end zone until halfway through the third quarter as the vaunted SEC defense of the Florida Gators was just too much for the Bearcats.

Cincinnati had its own strife leading up to the game, as they lost their head coach of three seasons Brian Kelly to the Notre Dame job and were being coached by an interim head coach for the bowl game.

The player had shrugged the distractions off, but their lack of balance throughout the game showed a much different story.

Wide receiver Mardy Gilliard didn’t break 50 yards receiving and Tony Pike struggled until the Gators took their foot off the pedal in the third quarter, already up 34 points.

Pike was sacked on multiple occasions, and the Bearcat offense was only able to muster 249 net yards, with just 68 total yards coming on the ground.

The Bearcats finished the season at No. 3 in the BCS rankings, but certainly didn’t look like the same team that went undefeated through the Big East and nearly made their way to the National Title Game despite a suspect defense.

For Tebow and Meyer, the victory in a BCS bowl game isn’t quite what they hoped their final game together might hold, but for the Gator Nation, this victory in the Sugar Bowl is certainly sweet enough.

Mark Ingram Wins Closest Heisman Trophy Vote Ever

heismanwinnerCongratulations to Alabama Crimson Tide running back Mark Ingram, who is the 75th recipient of the Heisman Trophy as awarded Saturday night in New York City. Ingram edged Stanford running back by just 28 points, making his victory the closest in the 75 year history of the award.

Ingram finished his season with a strong game in the SEC Championship Game, which was likely just enough to secure the trophy for the sophomore running back.

Ingram is also the third straight sophomore to win the award, following quarterbacks Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford.

Quarterback Colt McCoy finished third, followed by Nebraska defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh. Tebow finished fifth.

Ingram’s next step will be the National Title game with his team, where he will meet McCoy in Pasadena for the BCS national title on January 7th.

Ingram is also Alabama’s first-ever Heisman award winner.

2009 Heisman Trophy Results

Rank Candidate Points
1 Mark Ingram 1,304
2 Toby Gerhart 1,276
3 Colt McCoy 1,145
4 Ndamukong Suh 815
5 Tim Tebow 390

Florida and Cincinnati Set to Entertain at the Sugar Bowl

SUGARBOWLPreview

Cincinnati Bearcats (12-0) vs. Florida Gators (12-1)

A couple of votes here or there earlier in the season, or more help from the computers, and we could have easily been talking about Cincinnati playing in the National Championship Game. But the BCS conspired against those hopes for the undefeated Bearcats and the Big East champs were instead rewarded with a Sugar Bowl bid against an equally disappointed Florida Gators squad.

On a 22-game winning streak, the Gators faltered in the most important game of their season — the SEC Championship Game — and were unable to continue their run at back-to-back championships. However, Tim Tebow and the senior class will want to end their season on a high note in New Orleans.

The Big East isn’t supposed to be a power conference, but the Bearcats were about as powerful as they came this season in terms of offensive output, and a victory here might do wonders for the Big East moving forward. Lets get into the meat of the preview:

Offense: The quarterback duo of Zach Collaros and Tony Pike together headed the Big East’s most productive offense — their output was so prolific that many suggested the two be entered for Heisman contention as on entity, saying that Collaros and Pike together were more productive than any other quarterback in the nation, which isn’t far from the truth. Cincinnati can strike at any time, at any place on the field, and that quick-strike ability helped them avoid an upset on the final day of the season when they had to come back from a six-point deficit with time running out. Wide receiver/kick returner Mardy Gilyard contributes to firepower of the offense, in the mold of former Gator Percy Harvin.

Without Harvin, the Gator offense struggled a bit this season, but once again senior quarterback Tim Tebow led one of the SEC’s most prolific offensive teams. scoring less than 20 only twice. Tebow broke a bevy of SEC records in his final season including the career rushing touchdown mark. Tebow’s favorite mark, tight-end Aaron Hernandez, also helped lead the team’s offense, which averaged 442 yards per game.

Defense: Florida prides itself on its defense, led by coordinator Charlie Strong. Strong’s apparent ascension to the head coaching spot at Louisville may be a distraction for a squad that let up more than 20 points just once — in that SEC Championship Game to Alabama’s offense. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who was last season’s BCS National Title Game defensive MVP was suspended for that game, and his status for the Sugar Bowl remains to be seen. The Gators certainly missed his presence against Mark Ingram, Greg McElroy and the Tide offense last weekend.

Defensive was certainly a weak spot for the Bearcats in their final regular season game, where they let freshman Pitt running back Dion Lewis run all over them as they were seemingly unable to stop the Panthers at any point during the game. In their last four games, the Bearcats have given up 44, 36, 41 and 45 points to their opponents, something they cannot do against Florida and still hope to win.

Prediction: Florida 42 vs. Cincinnati 21. Despite the fact that the Gators will be disappointed to be at the Sugar Bowl and not in the National Championship Game, coach Urban Meyer will have them fired up to face his alma mater. Tim Tebow and the Gator offense will tear up the Bearcat D, and Tony Pike’s offensive efficiency will not be enough to match the Gators score for score.

McCoy, Tebow, Suh, Ingram and Gerhart Named Heisman Trophy Finalists

heismanfinalistsOne of the most open Heisman races in recent years is finally complete, and five college football players have been named as finalists for college football’s most coveted and prestigious award.

The season started as a race between quarterbacks for the trophy, as Heisman winners Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow were joined by Colt McCoy among the Heisman favorites. However, after Bradford went out with a season-ending injury, McCoy and Tebow were left alone. Both McCoy and Tebow will be headed to NYC for the presentation after both had very productive senior campaigns. McCoy will also be headed to the BCS National Title game in early January while Tebow heads to the Sugar Bowl.

The two quarterbacks are joined by two running backs, neither of which were on many watch lists when the season started. Stanford’s Toby Gerhart and Alabama’s Mark Ingram have stepped up in recent weeks to add their names to the list of Heisman favorites and were productive enough throughout the season to warrant an invite to the Heisman presentation.

The final finalist is Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, whose performance in the Big 12 Championship Game against McCoy and the Texas Longhorns gave Suh a last minute Heisman boost.

The trophy presentation is on Saturday December 12th at 8 PM EST on ESPN.

Final season statistics for the five finalists, listed in no particular order:

Colt McCoy QB Texas

330 of 468 (70.5%) passing for 3,512 yards, 27 TDs against 12 INTs. McCoy also rushed for 348 yards and three TDs.

Tim Tebow QB Florida

182 of 279 (65.2%) passing for 2,413 yards, 19 TDs against 5 INTs. Tebow also rushed for 1,109 yards and 13 TDs.

Mark Ingram RB Alabama

249 rush attempts for 1,542 yards (6.2 per carry), 15 TDs and zero fumbles lost. Ingram also had 30 receptions for 322 yards and three TDs.

Toby Gerhart RB Stanford

311 rush attempts for 1,736 yards (5.6 per carry), 26 TDs and zero fumbles lost. Gerhart also had 10 receptions for 149 yards, and a passing touchdown.

Ndamukong Suh DT Nebraska

82 tackles, 47 of which were solo. 12 sacks and one INT

Heisman Watch Week 14: Has Mark Ingram Clinched the Heisman Trophy?

heismanweek12Colt McCoy

McCoy struggled throughout the night on Saturday against the hounding Nebraska defense, but his work on the final drive may have saved much more than his team’s hopes of a national title. McCoy needed the final drive in order to negate the three-interception performance that he had put on in the Big 12 Championship Game. He will still likely receive an invitation to the Heisman trophy presentation, but its very obvious that his Heisman stock will have fallen by the time all the votes are in.

Tim Tebow

Tebow’s performance on Saturday could have gone two ways. Either he could use his versatility to lead the Gators to the brink of a second-straight national championship and boost his Heisman hopes, or Mark Ingram and the Tide could shock the Gators, and his Heisman hopes would be shot. We got the second, as the de facto national semifinal also turned into a de facto semifinal for the Heisman trophy, as Tebow was all but eliminated.

Not that Tebow had a terrible game, but what he needed was greatness, and he didn’t deliver. His 310 total yards and two touchdowns were just not enough, and he will likely not receive a second Heisman trophy.

Toby Gerhart

As the only one on this list not playing on the final weekend of the season, Gerhart’s chances of actually winning the award were probably hurt by the performances of the rest of the contenders. Despite that, Gerhart’s numbers stack up well and should warrant an invitation to the ceremony at the very least. His final numbers: 1,736 yards rushing on 311 attempts, 26 touchdowns. Add 149 yards receiving and a passing touchdown, and you get a pretty productive year for the senior running back.

CJ Spiller

Spiller did absolutely everything right on Saturday, and likely secured an invitation to the Heisman trophy presentation. Spiller’s resurgence after a terrible game against South Carolina is just another example of how a Heisman race that was supposed to be all about quarterbacks instead has turned into a running backs’ race. Spiller’s dominating performance – Spiller amassed more than 230 yards and ran for four touchdowns – against the Georgia Tech defense. The only problem in all of this was that the Tigers lost, but Spiller’s performance should speak for itself.

Mark Ingram

Ingram seemed to have lost all hope for the Heisman trophy last weekend when he was held to 30 yards rushing and didn’t have a touchdown. But, as of today, all is forgotten.

In the all-important SEC Championship Game, no star shown brighter than that of the sophomore running back’s, as Ingram tore apart the Gator defense for 199 total yards and three touchdowns. Ingram was spectacular in all facets of his game, including a huge 69-yard reception to set up a three-yard run, which gave the Tide all the points they would need for the victory. Because of the performances out of McCoy and Tebow, there is a possibility that this performance has clinched the trophy for the sophomore running back.

Ndamukong Suh

Suh’s performance in the Big 12 Championship Game, despite it coming in a losing effort, was likely enough to get his name on a ton of ballots. His 3.5 sacks and 11 tackles were huge in the Cornhuskers almost pulling the upset. He likely wont win, but his season is well worth the Heisman votes he will receive.

Heisman Watch Week 13: Gerhart, Tebow and McCoy Breakout

heismanweek12Mark Ingram

Not the kind of performance we’ve come to expect from Ingram in weeks past, as he was even outrushed by his own teammate, Trent Richardson. Suddenly it becomes very astounding that Ingram has been held below 100 yards in five of the Crimson Tide’s 12 games, which is a rather large percentage for a Heisman hopeful. A big game against Florida in the all-important SEC Championship game would likely make all the voters forget about his game against Auburn, and maybe could secure the trophy for him.

Toby Gerhart

Gerhart took full advantage of a national broadcast against the Irish to put on a real show. The Cardinal running back threw for a very important touchdown, ran for three more and rushed for 200+ yards for the third time this year. As compared to Ingram, who has five games under 100, Gerhart has only two, and none less than 82 yards. The only fault against Gerhart maybe the fact that in a group of undefeated and nationally ranked Heisman candidates, he is on an only pretty good Stanford squad. Gerhart finishes his best collegiate regular seeason with 1,521 yards and 23 touchdowns.

CJ Spiller

In breaking the NCAA record for career kickoff returns, it was lost just how well South Carolina restricted the output of the senior running back on Saturday, limiting Spiller to just 18 yards rushing. Spiller had better step it up against Georgia Tech next weekend if he even wants an invite to New York City. The loss doesn’t help either, as Spiller sees himself in the same boat as Gerhart in terms of only very good players on very good teams.

Tim Tebow

Senior day at the Swamp was good to Tebow and the Gators, and Tebow did not disappoint in maybe his best performance of the season against Florida State. Accounting for a combined five touchdowns – two on the ground and three through the air – Tebow showed just why he is still among the Heisman favorites even though his statistics this year have not been up to his usual output. Just like Ingram, the quarterback’s performance in the SEC Championship Game will be important to his Heisman hopes.

Colt McCoy

Proving just how thankful Longhorns fans should be for him on Thanksgiving night, as McCoy did everything and a little bit more to help the Longhorns stay well entrenched in the national title picture and bolstered his Heisman hopes against Texas A&M. The senior quarterback had 304 yards passing and four touchdowns against the Aggie defense and definitely helped prove himself to be the best quarterback in the nation in the second half of the season. Plus, the senior leader had a career high in rushing yards. One more game against Nebraska looms in the Longhorns road to the title game and in McCoy’s route to the Heisman trophy.

Heisman Watch Week 12: Gerhart Shines in a Loss

heismanweek12Mark Ingram

Chattanooga looked just silly trying to contain Mark Ingram in the few touches he got on Saturday. Even though the Crimson Tide back had limited action, he still managed to rush fro more than 100 yards for the seventh time, and added two touchdown runs. One of the runs was especially impressive, as Ingram took multiple defenders with him to the end zone during their futile attempt to bring him down.

Toby Gerhart

Gerhart followed his best performance of the season with an even better one on Saturday, but unfortunately for Gerhart and the Cardinal, it came in a loss. Rushing for 136 yards and four touchdowns, the Cardinal running back helped Stanford out to an early lead. But Cal, despite a running back by committee situation after Jahvid Best was unable to go, scored 24 unanswered. With Andrew Luck struggling the Cardinal offense was dependent on Gerhart’s performance. And perform he did. After rushing for two big scores in the first half, he rushed for two more – one at the end of the third quarter and another midway through the fourth. But it was all for naught, as Stanford could not make the comeback complete, falling 34-28.

Colt McCoy

McCoy finally got some playing time in an important Big 12 matchup with Kansas, and showed his full potential against the Jayhawks. Throwing for four touchdowns and 396 yards McCoy was efficient as ever and continued a strong season. McCoy hit eight different receivers on the night and three different receivers for touchdown passes, including Jordan Shipley’s 108-yard, one touchdown performance. With Texas A&M and Nebraska in the Big 12 title game in his future, McCoy will need to use these next two games to make his final statement for the Heisman voters strong.

Tim Tebow

Tebow put in another solid performance on Saturday in the Gator’s cakewalk victory over Florida International, 62-3. Tebow contributed two touchdowns through the air and another on the ground, the latter giving Tebow the SEC rushing touchdown career record. His efficiency continues to be very high in his limited action, which is what he will need in order to keep his name on these lists.

CJ Spiller

On his senior day, CJ Spiller didn’t do a whole lot to boost his Heisman hopes, but he did help get Clemson into the ACC Championship Game, and as we all know a successful team really helps if you want a bronze trophy in your trophy case. Spiller had just 58 yards and one touchdown in the Tigers 34-21 victory over Virginia on Saturday. Next week’s match up with rivals South Carolina, which will be nationally broadcast, may be a good opportunity for the back to make a big statement.

Heisman Watch Week 11: Ingram’s A Cut Above the Rest

heismanweek11Mark Ingram

There’s a lot to be said of the mediocrity of this year’s crop of Heisman candidates. It seems like no one really wants to assert themselves. Save one.

Mark Ingram continued a dominating season on Saturday, rushing for 149 yards and two touchdowns. He even was helped off the field after suffering a pretty painful looking gash on his forehead on his first TD run, sat out just the remainder of the quarter, and got back into the action without missing a beat starting in the third quarter. Do you know anyone capable of that?

There is little doubt now who the Heisman frontrunner is, and Ingram’s 70 yard dash midway through the fourth quarter is the stuff of Heisman highlight reels, it’s his trophy to lose.

Case Keenum

True, his statistics continued to shine at the helm of one of the nation’s most pass happy offenses, but Houston’s devastating loss to Central Florida will likely hurt Case Keenum’s Heisman hopes. Rare in recent Heisman history have non-BCS school candidates made the trip to NYC, but in nearly every case, those participants were part of highly ranked, BCS buster-type squads, making noise on the national stage. Now that the Cougars are no longer in that category, Keenum might find it more difficult to see NYC in his future.

Keenum did perform well on Saturday, but was unable to bring his team back from a third straight second half deficit, his 377 yards and three touchdowns were simply not enough to overcome a UCF offense that caught fire after a scoreless first period.

Colt McCoy

It’s strange that Colt McCoy leads one of the nation’s most prolific offenses, but continues to struggle to put up the big numbers that we saw all of last year from the senior quarterback’s arm. On Saturday, his Longhorns plastered the Baylor defense for 47 points, but McCoy was only responsible for two first half touchdown passes, and passed for less than 200 yards for the second time in three games. McCoy is still among the Heisman favorites in this weak field, but even his big name might not be enough if he continues to fill scorecards with mediocre numbers.

Tim Tebow

Tebow and his Gators made some history on Saturday against South Carolina, but the senior quarterback did nothing truly great to boost his Heisman candidacy. Tebow tied the career touchdown record in SEC history, accounting for two on the day – one through the air and one on the ground. This year’s edition of the Gators is also the first squad to finish the SEC regular season undefeated since 1996.

That’s all well and grand for the Gator’s national title hopes and record books, but for Tebow, he continues to see his second Heisman trophy slip away. Tebow continues to put in games that lack the statement quality of his games in year’s past. But as we have discussed many times before, no one is truly out of this year’s race until it’s over – Tebow has hope yet.

CJ Spiller

Preseason Heisman hopeful CJ Spiller has had a string of strong performances lately and has slowly but surely crept up watch lists all around the nation to become a real player in the trophy late in the season. His performance Saturday only vindicated what many had said about the Clemson running back before season’s start, that the senior is the nation’s best running back.

And on Saturday, Spiller set out to prove that he is also the nation’s most versatile running back. Accounting for three Clemson touchdowns, Spiller scored in three different ways – passing for one, rushing for one and catching one in the end zone for a big statement game against NC State.

Important too was the fact that the Tigers are now in control of their own destiny for a BCS bowl bid, if they can beat Virginia and then Georgia Tech, they will make their way to the Orange Bowl, important for Spiller’s Heisman hopes.

Heisman Watch Week Ten: Keenum and McCoy Shine

heismanweeknineColt McCoy

This is the Colt McCoy we’ve been expecting all season. With his best performance of the season coming this past weekend against UCF, McCoy has certainly solidified his spot among the Heisman favorites. His 470 yards and two touchdowns were good enough to deliver McCoy his best passer rating of the season as the Longhorns took it to UCF, 35-3. Also, it looks almost certain that the Longhorns will finish the season undefeated and in the national championship game the way they’re playing now, finally having hit their offensive stride. And as we all know, leading a successful team is always helpful to a Heisman candidacy.

Mark Ingram

When it was most important, Mark Ingram stepped up to the plate for the Crimson Tide, and his 144 rushing yards were integral in securing not only the victory for Alabama over LSU, but the SEC West crown as well. Although Ingram did not find the end zone for just the second time this season, and Julio Jones might have stolen the show, Ingram continued to show why he is considered among the best running backs in the nation, helping the sometimes uneven Tide offense to avoid the monumental upset by the Tigers.

Jimmy Clausen

At first glance, Clausen’s statistical line on Saturday looks good enough to strengthen the junior’s Heisman candidacy, but look closer, and you might see reason for doubt. In the Irish loss to Navy, Clausen committed two costly turnovers and an unforgivable 15-yard penalty during Notre Dame’s third loss of the season. The loss in and of itself doesn’t help Clausen’s candidacy, as the Irish struggle to find the momentum that helped them climb the national rankings earlier this year. All told, Clausen did pass for more than 450 yards and had two touchdowns, but it’s the little things that are starting to hurt his Heisman hopes.

Tim Tebow

Not the worst game we’ve seen out of Tebow all year, but the effort put in by the senior QB and the Gators left some of the critics wondering. His only TD pass came on a tipped ball in the end zone, and although he rush for another touchdown late in the third quarter, Tebow’s two total touchdowns weren’t anything extraordinary. In this year where no one wants to assert themselves in the Heisman race, Tebow leads the pack in mediocrity.

Case Keenum

Another 500 yard performance from Keenum, and for the second time in two weeks, he leads his Houston Cougars to close victory over an in conference opponent. This time, Keenum lead the Cougar offense to nine points in 21 seconds. Keenum passed to wideout James Cleveland with 21 seconds left for his fifth touchdown pass of the game. The Cougars then recovered the onside kick, Keenum completed two passes of 12 and 13 yards, and his kicker came through as the final seconds ticking off the clock, nailing a 51-yard field goal with all zeroes. Keenum’s performance once again showed why he is the most prolific quarterback in the nation, and his two last minute drives could be considered Keenum’s “Heisman moment”, that elusive highlight that solidifies a Heisman candidacy.

Heisman Watch Week Nine: Solid Performances All Around

heismanweeknineColt McCoy

Nothing special from McCoy this week, but at this point in the season, where no one is stepping up, that’s more than enough to keep him on most lists. The Oklahoma State game was supposed to be a challenge for the Longhorns, but they didn’t struggle in the least, and McCoy had a relatively quiet night, completing 16 of 21 for 171 yards and a touchdown pass. In the coming weeks, McCoy will certainly have opportunities for big statistical output, as the Longhorn’s schedule gets a whole lot easier.

Tim Tebow

A solid all-around game from Tebow helped Florida continue its recent dominance of the Georgia-Florida rivalry. In rushing for 85 yards and two touchdowns, Tebow also broke Herschel Walker’s all-time SEC rushing touchdowns record, which had stood at 50. Tebow was also relatively proficient through the air, passing for two touchdowns on just 21 attempts. Tebow too will have the opportunity to get some big statistics into his resume in the coming weeks, as the Gators have a pretty easy rest of the SEC regular season.

Jimmy Clausen

Just as the previous two quarterbacks on this list, Clausen oversaw an easy victory. For the Fighting Irish, that victory came over Washington State in San Antonio, Texas. Clausen finished with two more passing touchdowns, bringing his season total to 16, on track to match or better his output from last season, where he had 25 TD passes. And for the third straight game, Clausen went without an interception, important in the Irish’s recent success.

Mark Ingram

Mark Ingram had a bye this week, but his overall statistics speak for themselves, and therefore Ingram stays among the Heisman favorites. Already over 1,000 yards on the season, Ingram has been integral in the Crimson Tide’s success this year, and has played an important role in the success of Alabama’s offensive success, although against the SEC, the yards have been harder to come by.

Case Keenum

Keenum, following rather subpar performance last week against Southern Methodist, followed it up with his best performance of the season, and of his career. His 559 yards on 44 of 54 passing helped Houston continue its surprising season, improving their record to 7-1. Keenum also passed for five touchdowns, a career high.