Bowl season kicks off with a BYU blowout over UTEP


Well, 1 down, 29 non-BCS bowls to go.

(Writer’s note: by the way, that fizzing sound you hear is a couple of Alka-Seltzers in water)

BYU’s 52-24 win over UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl wasn’t even close to the best way to start the 2010 bowl season (unless, of course, you’re a BYU fan), and unfortunately for the casual observer, there’s no guarantee it’s going to get any better.

Somewhere between the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and Kraft Fight Hunger with Beef O’Brady’s Pizza Bowl, it all starts to get a little blurry.

Still, there are some advantages to bowls that those of us sitting at home don’t always consider. From the perspective of the players and coaches, it’s seen as a reward and a chance at extra practice. Bowls are, more often than not, held in decent locations and the bowl SWAG is usually pretty good.

For the traveling fans, bowls make a nice vacation and are easier to plan around than a 3 or 4 round playoff.

No, bowls aren’t completely bad, but there are still way, way too many of them. And while ESPN claims it’s “the most wonderful time of the year”, games like BYU-UTEP beg the question “Do the fans really win?”

In marquee out-of-conference games like Virginia Tech and Boise State, the fans win. When two high-quality teams like Arkansas and Ohio State play in the Sugar Bowl, the fans win — provided, of course, that it’s a good game.

It’s much easier to get those fan-friendly matchups when you’re dealing with 8, 10, 12 or 16 teams instead of 70.

I’m not going to scream for a playoff because, honestly, I’ve never heard a consensus format, but when you get blowout games like the New Mexico Bowl today, it makes you wonder if there’s a better alternative.

Was Washington loss the beginning of the end of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC?

Steve Sarkisian
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Steve Sarkisian’s win totals in his six previous seasons are both a positive and a negative.

On one hand, he resurrected a moribund Washington program that went 0-12 under Ty Willingham in 2008 and took them to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-2013. He won nine games his last year in Seattle, then led a talented-yet-thin USC team to a nine-win season and AP No. 20 finish in 2014.

Those are good accomplishments. But the flip side of the argument is Sarkisian has never won double-digit games in a season, something that’s a necessity to keep one’s job at USC. The Trojans’ 17-12 loss to Washington last night — at home, no less — means the road to 10 wins and a Pac-12 title will be awfully difficult.

And worse yet, there are plenty of arguments to be made Sarkisian doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and a little more time in Los Angeles to turn things around (#SarkAfterDark, his drunken rant at a booster event, certainly doesn’t help). The reaction from national media to last night’s loss looked like this:

Mandel, in his column, argued USC is right where it was two years ago with Lane Kiffin as its coach. And there’s this embarrassing thought, that looks more and more like a truth, for Pat Haden:

This one, however, was the most damning by far for many reasons, most notably that it came at the hands of Sarkisian’s old team. The sense among many Washington fans nearly two years ago was that the Huskies managed to upgrade coaches when the school lured Chris Petersen from Boise State upon Sarkisian’s departure to USC.

They were right.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken similarly wrote that USC needs to drop Sarkisian and bring in Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is the state of USC, and it may not get better. The Trojans start a brutal three-game stretch next Saturday at Notre Dame in primetime, then welcome Utah to Los Angeles the next week. A Halloween trip to Berkeley to face Jared Goff and Cal finishes it up. There’s a very real chance USC, for all its talent and all its hype, limps into November with a 4-4 or 3-5 record.

Sarkisian will have to engineer and sustain a major turnaround in these coming weeks, otherwise he’ll give Haden all the ammo he needs to unceremoniously jettison him after two years.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.