WBEZ | BCS http://www.wbez.org/tags/bcs-0 Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Bowl games in Florida had mix results for Illinois teams http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-01/bowl-games-florida-had-mix-results-illinois-teams-104639 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_pat_fitzgerald_gator.jpg" style="width: 350px; float: right; height: 526px" title="NU coach Pat Fitzgerald finally wins a bowl game. (AP Photo/Stephen Morton)" />They are still dancing in the streets of Evanston after #20 Northwestern started the New Year with a bang, and in DeKalb it was a tough cold night as Northern Illinois University succumbed 31-10 to the bigger and more talented Florida State University.</p><p><strong>Ending a long drought:</strong></p><p>You can now count on two fingers how many college football bowl games Northwestern University has won in school history. The last one was the 1949 Rose Bowl and yesterday it was a 34-20 win over Mississippi State to take the Gator Bowl crown.</p><p>Coach Pat Fitzgerald&#39;s defense was the stars of the game played in Tallahassee, Florida. They nabbed four interceptions, Quentin Williams pick was the third play of the game. Williams returned it for a 29 yard touchdown. Several milestones were reached by Wildcat coach Pat Fitzgerald, this team posted its third ten win season finishing 10-3, and Fitzgerald&rsquo;s 50-39 record, gives him the honor of the most wins for a NU head coach.</p><p>They were the only Big Ten to post a bowl win on New Year&rsquo;s Day. This year Northwestern knocked off two SEC schools this season -- besides Mississippi State, they beat Vanderbilt.</p><p><strong>Playing with the &ldquo;big boys&rdquo;:</strong></p><p>Northern Illinois heard it for weeks; they were too small and not as athletic as their Orange Bowl opponent Florida State University.</p><p>Huskie quarterback Jordan Lynch had a tough time with the Seminole defense, he was held in check most of the game with only 44 rushing yards and only one touchdown when he connected with Martel Moore in the 3rd quarter. Even with the lopsided yardage the Seminoles amassed through the first three quarters, NIU was only down 17-10 when coach</p><p>NIU coach Rod Carey went for an onside kick, which the Huskies recovered. There was a sense that they had some momentum, however, Lynch threw a crucial interception and from that point the Seminoles seized control of the game.</p><p>In the trenches, on both offense and defense, Florida State dominated the tenacious Huskies. FSU flexed its muscles behind their quarterback EJ Manuel, guiding them to two easy touchdowns. Once the Seminoles built their 21 point cushion, their defense just overpowered Lynch and the Huskie offense.</p><p>It is a tough loss for Northern Illinois in this BCS match-up, but they can come away with some positives: The Huskies are a young team and the spotlight of this game will help in future recruiting.</p><p>But there will be many critics still crowing that the Huskies didn&rsquo;t belong in this contest.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_jordan_lynch_orange.jpg" style="width: 350px; float: left; height: 528px" title="NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch was limited in the Orange Bowl. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)" /><strong>Next Monday:</strong></p><p>The Midwest has one more story to complete the college football bowl season---the National Championship in Miami between #1 Notre Dame and #2 Alabama. This could be a really dandy.</p><p><strong>One more Bowl:</strong></p><p>There was one more bowl game that that I saw up close and personal on New Year&rsquo;s Day: the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida. It was a wild game with big plays as South Carolina outlasted Michigan 33-28.</p><p>You may be wondering why this is even mentioned&mdash;there was a personal interest for me. My son&rsquo;s school, Fremd High School of Palatine, had their marching band participate in the halftime show with seventeen other schools from around the country.</p><p>On Friday, I will blog about the experience and how my views on bowl games have a newer perspective. It was my first time covering a bowl game and it was quite the experience, coupled with one of the more exciting games this season.&nbsp;</p><p>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank"><font color="#006896">@CRayeStout</font></a> and Facebook <a href="http://facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank"><font color="#006896">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</font></a></p></p> Wed, 02 Jan 2013 00:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-01/bowl-games-florida-had-mix-results-illinois-teams-104639 Why all the fuss about NIU squeezing into the Orange Bowl? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/why-all-fuss-about-niu-squeezing-orange-bowl-104174 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_jordan_lynch_running.jpg" title="NIU QB Jordan Lynch set the NCAA rushing yards in a season by a quarterback.(NIU Media Services)" /></div><p>What did Northern Illinois University do to deserve such negativity about gaining a berth to a bowl championship game?&nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/gameon/2012/12/02/herbstreit-espn-northern-illinois-bcs/1741751/">Talking heads have lambasted the Huskies for getting the nod to play Florida State in the Orange Bowl </a>in Miami on New Year&rsquo;s Day, and stats nerds and big time football schools have scoffed at this BCS selection.</p><p>It&#39;s not the National Championship game &mdash; that will really see the big revenues. But money is the reason for such displeasure &mdash; and the fact that a smaller school in a smaller conference (the Mid-American Conference) gets to share in the wealth. The MAC gets $8 million&nbsp;for having a team in a BCS bowl game, and this is the first time this conference has had&nbsp;a&nbsp;representative.</p><p>But NIU earned their spot fair and square: They have an exciting quarterback in Jordan Lynch, and the school has gone to five straight bowl games. NIU sent six players to NFL rosters and two more to the league&#39;s practice squads, and the program has succeeded&nbsp;despite a coaching carousel:&nbsp;Head coach Dave Doeren barely got the confetti out of his hair after Friday&rsquo;s win before leaving to become the head coach at North Carolina State; his predecessor, Jerry Kill, made a leap to Minnesota. Rod Carey now leads the team, in Miami and beyond. Carey had been the team&rsquo;s offensive line coach, but illness forced offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar to resign. Now Carey will diagram the Xs and Os in perhaps the biggest game of NIU&rsquo;s history.&nbsp;Plus, a town like DeKalb deserves to enjoy a great experience this this.&nbsp;The school&#39;s players, students, staff and surrounding community are aving the time of their lives. It&#39;s a shame outsiders want to diminish what the 12-1 football program has accomplished.&nbsp;</p><p>There are several players on the&nbsp;NIU&nbsp;team roster from Florida. Imagine: They get to go home and play in their home state with Huskies across their uniform. Maybe they wanted to play for Florida State, Florida or Miami --&nbsp;NIU&nbsp;chose them and they chose Northern Illinois University. There&#39;s excitement from&nbsp;NIU staff, too, like assistant athletic director Donna Turner. She&#39;s a Florida State alum, but make no mistake about where Turner&rsquo;s allegations are right now. Despite where she came from, the Gainesville, Fla., native is walking around with an ear-to-ear grin, loving that her team&nbsp;has a unique opportunity on a big stage.</p><p>Frankly, isn&rsquo;t that is what it is all about?&nbsp;A school little-known outside of Illinois now takes center stage. They can and should enjoy every bit of it. They deserve it.</p><p>* * *</p><p>The game may be weeks away but there&#39;s plenty happening in the meantime:</p><ul><li>NIU is offering free tickets to all its students &mdash; that&rsquo;s right &mdash; free! The school had this policy in past bowl games and even though it&rsquo;s a BCS game, the school decided to continue the tradition. Joe Summins,&nbsp;NIU&#39;s associate director of media services, explained the decision this way: &ldquo;We just want our students to be part of the excitement.&rdquo; Eager students have waited in line to get their hands on a coveted ticket.<br />&nbsp;</li><li>Wednesday at 7 p.m. NIU will stage a rally for the football team at the Huskie-SIU-Edwardsville basketball game halftime. The MAC championship trophy will be on display.&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;</li><li>This week the team will do some unwinding &mdash; next week is finals. That could be more intimidating then facing the Seminoles. . . .&nbsp;</li></ul><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter </em><a href="http://%3chttps//twitter.com/Crayestout%3E"><font color="#006896"><em>@CRayeStout</em></font></a><em> and Facebook </em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame"><font color="#006896"><em>Cheryl Raye-Stout #AtTheGame</em></font></a><em>.</em></p></p> Wed, 05 Dec 2012 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-12/why-all-fuss-about-niu-squeezing-orange-bowl-104174 Notre Dame football is on top - like it or not http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-11/notre-dame-football-top-it-or-not-104030 <p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_kelly_bath.jpg" style="height: 204px; width: 280px; float: left;" title="Irish Coach Brian Kelly gets a shower after cliniching a trip to the Championship game.(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)" />If you want to spark a heated discussion in college sports there is one team that seems to top most other schools &mdash; Notre Dame.</div><p>Last weekend the Fighting Irish finished an unbelievable regular season beating USC on the road and finishing with a 12-0 record and one more game to play. That game will be for the BCS title on January 7 in Miami. Their challenger for the National Championship will be determined in a few days.&nbsp; For now, it is the team from South Bend, Ind., that is making the headlines and stirring the conversation.</p><p>There seems to be no middle ground. Fans love the program and the years of glory (not many the past several years) or they can&#39;t stand the team, the program or the history. (It is hard to use the word hate, talking about a religious-based school.)</p><p>Years ago, two words seemed to get under the skin of many people about Notre Dame: Irish and Catholic. For some reason it made the school seem very segmented and is a &quot;turn-off&quot; to a significant number of individuals.</p><p>It seems that was the genesis of the distain that has evolved&nbsp;into just viewing Notre Dame as pompous and very arrogant. They have for a long time had their own lucrative national television agreement. In the crazy collegiate world of big NCAA conferences expanding, Notre Dame&#39;s football program refuses to budge in joining them and still remains independent. (The rest of their sports programs are in conferences).</p><p>Right now, that decision looks pretty good. They don&#39;t have to share their football revenues and money will flow in South Bend as they march on to the big title game.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" ap="" be="" can="" class="image-original_image" darron="" from="" mural="" nd="" photo="" seen="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_1td_jesus.jpg" stadium.="" style="float: right; height: 463px; width: 280px;" title="'Touchdown Jesus' mural can be seen from ND stadium. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)" touchdown="" /></div><p>Chicago has always laid claim to Notre Dame as being part of its realm. It is a short drive from downtown and there are a multitude of alumni that live and work here. Full disclosure, the only vacations I ever took as a kid were to South Bend to stay with my godparents. In fact, we were just there on Saturday, hours before the game in California. It was the first time my son got to see the famous campus and field &mdash; and of course &quot;Touchdown Jesus.&quot; For those that don&#39;t know what that means, there is a huge mural of Jesus with his arms extended like a referee signaling a score visible at the stadium.</p><p>When we were there this weekend, strangers had no trouble walking up to me asking what I thought about the &quot;big&quot; game that day. In this small town, Notre Dame is everything and to the rest of the country it is a big deal, too.</p><p>The next several weeks, the stories about this tradition-rich school will fill sports pages and airwaves. Love them or not &mdash; the ascension to the top of the college football world has been fascinating. Before the season began the AP pre-season poll (voted by sportswriters) did not have the Irish in their top 25 rankings. The coaches voted them 24th in the USA Today pre-season poll. How dumb they must all feel now?</p><p>The start for a perfect season began overseas, at where else &mdash; Ireland &mdash; against Navy. They followed by beating three Big Ten schools in consecutive week: Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue. The ride to the national championship had two exciting overtime wins: one against Stanford and a triple overtime win against Pittsburgh. The lovers of Notre Dame will say they are a team of destiny, the ones that don&rsquo;t care for them will say it was just luck.</p><p>Either way, you can&rsquo;t deny head coach Brian Kelly (in only his third year) has pushed all the right buttons, even though his seniors were recruited by predecessor Charlie Weis. The team&#39;s biggest star isn&rsquo;t Irish, isn&rsquo;t Catholic, but a Mormon from Hawaii &mdash; Manti Te&rsquo;o. Last year the senior linebacker could have opted for the NFL but he stayed and has dominated. Te&#39;o is being considered for the Heisman Trophy and is a finalist for the Maxwell Award. Next spring the Notre Dame defender will likely be a high first round pick in the NFL.</p><p>If this team from South Bend is going to win the title, it will be a red-shirt freshman Everett Colson guiding the team at quarterback.&nbsp;There are bountiful stories to tell leading up to the big game on January 7. And if the Irish win, there will be lots of stories forever. After all it is Notre Dame, like it or not.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="http://%3chttps//twitter.com/Crayestout%3E"><font color="#006896">@CRayeStout</font></a> and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame"><font color="#006896">Cheryl Raye-Stout #AtTheGame</font></a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 28 Nov 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2012-11/notre-dame-football-top-it-or-not-104030