Chick-fil-A Bowl - Duke v Texas A&M

Johnny Football leads Texas A&M comeback over Duke in Chick-Fil-A Bowl


Farewell, Johnny. It was wonderful while it lasted.

The 2013 Chick-Fil-A bowl will long be remembered as Heisman winner Johnny Manziel’s final game in college. Years from now, few will remember the details of the Texas A&M comeback to beat an upstart Duke team that played nearly three quarters of flawless football before finally relenting, 52-48, on New Year Eve.

Perhaps even fewer will recall that the key play in the game was turned by the very same A&M defense that allowed Duke to move at will up and down the field all game long.

Never mind all that. For now, breathe in the wonder of Manziel, who threw for 382 yards on 30 of 38 passing, while rushing for another 73 yards and one touchdown. That’s 455 yards of offense and five total touchdowns for those keeping score at home.

It almost wasn’t enough.

Duke scored on its first six possessions and jumped out to a 38-17 halftime lead (the score was 28-3 at one point). Blue Devils quarterback Anthony Boone was phenomenal, throwing for 427 yards on 29 of 43 passing. He was 11 for 11 on third down alone, keeping drives alive time after time. But it wasn’t quite enough.

This was no game for defenses. A combined 1,203 yards and 100 points was belched forth by both offensive attacks.

And yet Tony Hurd’s 55-yard pick six of a Boone pass in the fourth quarter ended up being the difference. Such is college football.

A&M closes the season at 9-4, while Duke finishes its dream season at 10-4.

“I can’t even think about anything other than this game right now,” Manziel said afterward, in response to a reporter who asked whether he would now turn pro. “It’s unreal. I love Texas A&M. I love my teammates. I love ’em more than anything on the face of this earth.”

Enough to come back for another year?  Stay tuned.

Wisconsin announces 10-year agreement with Under Armour

Joel Stave
Associated Press

What has long been rumored became fact Friday, as Wisconsin announced a 10-year agreement with Under Armour.

“I am absolutely thrilled about our new partnership with Under Armour,” AD Barry Alvarez said in a statement. “Kevin Plank and his team have established a brand that fits perfectly with the Wisconsin athletics story and culture. Our primary focus at Wisconsin is, of course, our student-athletes, and Under Armour’s passion and commitment to high quality and innovation will benefit our student-athletes for years to come. Our entire department is looking forward to a long and mutually productive relationship with the Under Armour team.”

The new deal will pay the Badgers a total of $7 million in cash and product in 2015-16 and is valued at $96 million over the life of the contract, good for second in the Big Ten, trailing only Nike’s new contract with Michigan.

Hidden within the contract are two nuggets that UA offered to sway the Badgers away from Adidas, from the Portland Business Journal:

Wisconsin will get as much as $500,000 from Under Armour to “rebrand” athletic facilities. It’ll get $150,000 to build out an Under Armour retail space in a campus gift shop called Bucky’s Locker Room. It also gets two summer internships for students at Under Armour’s Baltimore headquarters.

“The University of Wisconsin is an institution built on the highest values of academic excellence, and we are extremely proud to be teaming up with one of the most vibrant, distinctive and successful athletic programs in the country to help elevate the performance of all Badgers with innovative footwear and apparel,” added Plank.

Wisconsin’s departure continues to weaken the stronghold Adidas had built in the Midwest after losing Michigan to Nike and Notre Dame to Under Armour in recent years (the company still owns apparel rights for Indiana and Nebraska). The Badgers are now the 41st Division I athletics department and 17th FBS program to join UA.

Video: There’s nothing wrong with Cardale Jones

Getty Images

In the minds of some in the media and even more in the fan base, Ohio State in general and Cardale Jones specifically have been underwhelming through the first five games of the 2015 season.

Jones, in particular, has been a rather large target of much of the angst.  Coming off a Cinderella-like three-game postseason run that helped OSU to a national championship, the perception is that Jones has been underwhelming and underperforming; even head coach Urban Meyer appeared to be leaning in that direction as he considered making the switch to J.T. Barrett prior to the Western Michigan win before reaffirming his commitment to the redshirt junior.

Is that perception valid?  Statistically, he’s not that far off from where he was in the 2014 postseason, at least in a couple of categories.

He’s completing 61.3 percent of his passes this season compared to 59.4 percent in the games against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon.  It was 9.9 yards per attempt in that three-game stretch last season, 8.2 in five games this season.  When it comes to scoring and turning the ball over, however, that’s another matter entirely.

He threw a touchdown pass every 15 pass attempts in the 2014 postseason; this season, it’s one every 21 attempts.  Even more glaring, he’s currently throwing an interception every 21 attempts as well.  During the run that made him a household name, it was one pick every 37.5 throws.

So, fewer touchdowns plus more turnovers equals validation of the angst, right?  Not so fast, at least as far as the college arm of Pro Football Focus goes.