MAACO Bowl extends agreement with Mountain West, Pac-10

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The Mountain West and Pac-10 conferences will continue to align themselves with the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, both the leagues and the game’s organizers announced today.

The agreement will run through the 2013 season, and will pit the No. 1 choice from the MWC with the No. 5 selection from the Pac-10.

Here’s the press release announcing the move:

LAS VEGAS (Aug. 24, 2009) – The top selection from the Mountain West Conference will continue to face off against the Pacific-10 Conference in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas through at least 2013 as renewal deals with both leagues were announced Monday. 

The bowl game, which will stage its 18th edition this December during the last year of the current contracts, continues to have the No. 1 choice from the MWC and will have the No. 5 selection from the Pac-10. The bowl previously was in a rotation with the Emerald Bowl for its Pac-10 representative but will now have its choice of schools at that fifth spot starting in 2010.

“We are ecstatic that the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas will continue to pit the two top conferences in the West against each other here in the Entertainment Capital of the World,” said MAACO Bowl Las Vegas Executive Director Tina Kunzer-Murphy. “There is a lot of movement going on out there right now in the bowl landscape and our executive committee worked really hard to get this extension done. It’s a great move for our city and our new title sponsor, MAACO.

“We’ve enjoyed unprecedented success since these two conferences joined our game and we expect that to continue,” she said. “We’ll put our bowl week experience for the teams and their fans up against any bowl in the country and I think both sides love coming to Las Vegas. In addition, along with this new contract, we will begin exploring opportunities to move future dates of our bowl to after the Christmas holiday for the first time ever to help grow our game.”

The MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, which is owned and operated by ESPN Regional Television (ERT), is televised nationally on ESPN. The game has matched up the leagues since 2001 with each side winning four times. Last season saw Arizona down BYU 31-21 in front of the bowl’s fourth consecutive sellout crowd.

“The MAACO Bowl Las Vegas has been a tremendous partner since the inception of the Mountain West Conference in 1999, and Las Vegas has proven a great destination city for our fans,” said MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson. “I commend the bowl game on securing a great matchup. The MWC will face a Pac-10 opponent for the ninth straight year this season and we look forward to continuing the series.”

“The Pacific-10 Conference is delighted to extend its relationship with the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas,” said Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott. “The Las Vegas Bowl has proved to be a top-flight destination for the Pac-10 teams that have earned a berth in the game and a favorite of the fans who follow those teams. The leadership, staff and volunteers of the bowl make participating in the game a truly memorable experience.”

No. 1 Ohio State puts sleeper hold on Maryland’s upset bid

Ezekiel Elliott, Kelon Adams
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Doesn’t it feel like we have seen this all before? No. 1 Ohio State, just as defending national champion Florida State did a year ago, has continued to skate by with some closer-than-expected results without falling victim to a loss. That trend continued Saturday afternoon in Columbus, with the Buckeyes improving to 6-0 and 2-0 in the Big Ten after pulling away from Maryland (2-4, 0-2 Big Ten), 49-28. The Terrapins tied Ohio State at 21-21 in the third quarter, but Cardale Jones completed a 48-yard touchdown pass to Jalin Marshall and J.T. Barrett and Ezekiel Elliot each scored on the ground as the Buckeyes finished on a strong note.

This season may not have gone quite to plan for Ohio State, but the Buckeyes continue to win games and shove aside any concerns along the way. Jones completed 20 passes for 279 yards and a pair of touchdowns without an interception. Elliott went over 100 yards and scored twice. Joey Bosa got a chance to do his usual shrug after a big play (Bosa also avoided getting an ejection for targeting after a mandatory instant replay review). Did Ohio State give up some big plays? Yes, they did. The good news is Ohio State makes plays when they need them the most, and ultimately that is what matters most. Ohio State does not need to blow out its opponents by 20 points on a weekly basis as long as it continues to win games. With four playoff spots up for grabs, Ohio State will secure one if it does not lose a game. The margin for error with a loss is an unknown variable, even as the season reaches its midway point.

Halfway through the season, Urban Meyer seems to have enough reason to stick with Jones and bring an end to that question some still have about the offense. Jones is going to be the quarterback, but Barrett will still get some play as well. Ohio State’s success will be determined by Elliott’s abilty to dominate a game.

Next up for Ohio State will be a home game against Penn State. The Nittany Lions took on a banged-up Indiana team in State College this afternoon. The Hoosiers may have taken Ohio State to the limit last week, but Penn State took advantage of a worn out Indiana team in  26-7 victory. Ohio State demolished Ohio State the last time Penn State visited, 63-14 in 2013, but it was the Nittany Lions that gave Ohio State its biggest scare of the season aside from Virginia Tech last year, with the Buckeyes escaping with an overtime victory on the road.

Maryland will head into a bye week, and it remains unconfirmed whether Edsall will be back to coach Maryland’s next game in two weeks. Reports late this week suggested the school will be moving on from Edsall as head coach, which means Maryland could be going with an interim head coach when Maryland takes on Penn State on October 24 in Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium.

Not dead yet! Longhorns make statement in upset over No. 10 Oklahoma

Jerrod Heard
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The demise of the Texas Longhorns has, somewhat, been exaggerated. A college football blueblood largely left for dead put the Big 12 on notice Saturday afternoon in Dallas by upsetting No. 10 Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry, 24-17. After the game the players hoisted head coach Charlie Strong up as if the team had just won a national championship. You know what? Texas deserved that moment to release some tension with a unified show of joy.

After being flattened last week by TCU, Texas was a program in a big mess with players tweeting at halftime and upperclassmen and underclassmen not seeing eye-to-eye. This was also a good Oklahoma team Texas just defeated. The Sooners climbed to a top 10 ranking after flexing some muscle against West Virginia and showing some good things on offense. None of those good things showed up early enough against the Longhorns though.

Texas held Oklahoma to fewer than 100 yards of total offense in the first half. The Sooners converted just three of their 12 third-down plays, while Texas managed to go 9-of-15 on third downs. For Texas, it was all about getting the running game going to take Oklahoma out of it from the start. D’Onta Foreman led all players with 117 yards and quarterback Jerrod Heard added 115 rushing yards to go with his selectively efficient passing performance (8-of-10 for 53 yards and a touchdown). Johnathan Gray also chipped in with 76 rushing yards. Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine carried the football 10 times for just 36 yards and a touchdown. Considering the production Perine showed last season, this was another disappointing result for the Sooners. Perine has rushed for more than 78 yards in a game just once this season (152 yards vs. Tulsa).

This was the first victory in the rivalry game for Strong, and the second win in three years against the rival Sooners for the Longhorns. This season may still be a huge rebuilding year for Texas, but a win against Oklahoma can help the rebuilding process pick up the pace after starting the season with a 1-4 record. There will still be some difficult games ahead for Strong’s Longhorns (Baylor, Oklahoma State, West Virginia), but everybody in Austin deserves at least one day just to celebrate this win few people saw coming.

Texas looks to make it two wins in a row in two weeks when the Longhorns come off a bye week against Kansas State. Oklahoma will take on Kansas State next week in Manhattan.