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Archives for : 2010

Da Bears! NFC North Champs!

For the first time in exactly 29 years, the Vikings played in Minnesota outdoors.  After a snowy disaster left their home turf, the Metrodome, unusable 8 days prior, it’s been a mad dash to figure out what to do.  There had been numerous suggestions for a location for this Monday Night game, but in the end, it was decided to play at the University of Minnesota which hadn’t been used since late November.  Hundreds of workers logged hundreds of hours trying to prep the field for play, which was no small feat.  Bleachers and seating had to be cleared of all the snow, not to mention the field.  The field also is not heated, which caused much concern for the players and ice and rock hard ground.

The players took the field, with a wind chill of only the single digits, ready to go.  Brett Farve made a miraculous recover from his shoulder injury just in time for the game.  He had not even practiced in two weeks.  The Vikings took and early lead in the game’s opening drive with a lead of  7-0.  Though Farve put everything he had into this game, which ultimately will more than likely be his last professionally, nothing could stop the mighty Chicago Bears.

Something magical was in the air on that chilly December, 20th evening for the Bears.  There were many notable players that evening.  First and foremost, Devin Hester who ran his way into the return touchdown record books with  64-yard punt return in the third quarter.  His 14th, thus far.   Hester also had a total of 146 return yards and a touchdown catch.  Wow.

Coach Lovie Smith said, “Just think about that. The all-time career return leader in the history of the National Football League. You’re talking about an honor, and when you’re a special player like him, he should be the guy to be up on top with that.”

Matt Forte was also a player of note, gaining 92 yards on 14 carries. His runs weren’t particularly out of the ordinary, however he was the Bears workhorse, reliably gaining first down after first down for his team despite playing in inclement weather

Israel Idonije had five tackles, and his sack and forced fumble in the third quarter helped set up Hester’s history-making punt return.   Julius Peppers  finished the game with five tackles, two deflected passes and an interception.

The Chicago Bears defense was absolutely top notch.  There was little to find fault with that night.  The Vikings were completely dominated with no chance for recovery.   The Bears crushed the Vikings 40-14 to win the NFC North title.  In securing the title, the Bears are headed back to the playoffs for the first time since 2006 when they advanced to Super Bowl XLI.

See the Bears take on the Packers on January 2nd for the last game of the season!

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Selection Sunday – Bowl Game Announcements

Hooray!  It’s Selection Sunday!  Easily one of the most exciting days of the year for NCAA Football fans.

Teams are slowly being announced throughout the day.  There are 35 bowl games total starting mid-December going though early January.  35 chances for NCAA Football teams to live infamy.  As noted in previous blog article, the 5 biggest bowl games are the BCS, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta and Rose bowls. 

The remaining 30 games will be just as exciting for their respective teams.  Some of the larger games being announced include the new TicketCity Bowl in Dallas, Texas where Big Ten’s Northwestern Wildcats will take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Jan. 1, 2011.    This will be Northwestern’s 3rd consecutive bowl appearance, although they haven’t won a bowl game since 1949.  The Red Raider will make an epic 11th appearance in a bowl game, though their track record is significantly better (6-2).  This bowl replaces the Cotton Bowl Classic.

Also playing on January 1, 2011, the Outback Bowl playing at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL, the  Penn State Nittany Lions will challenge the Florida Gators on the 25th anniversary of the bowl.   This will only be the third time the two schools have competed in history and the fourth appearance for both schools in the Outback Bowl

The 77th Hyundai Sun Bowl takes place on December 31st in El Paso, TX  and will feature the ACC Miami (FL.) Hurricanes vs. the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is a revival of a LONG-dormant rivalry. 

In the South the Meineke Car Care Bowl will showcase Clemson Tigers ( 6-6) and South Florida Bulls in the large Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. 

Another newly formed bowl, the aptly named Music City Bowl in Nashville, TN will play the North Carolina Tar Heels (7-5) against the Tennessee Volunteers (6-6).  The Music City Bowl will mark the first meeting between the schools in football since 1961.  Given that this will be played in Nashville, expect a large turn out from the Vols.  This game will take place on December 30th.

In the Texas Bowl taking place in Houston, TX at the Reliant Stadium.  The Illinois Illini (6-6) will challenge the Baylor Bears (7 – 5)on December 30th.  The Texas Bowl is still a fairly new bowl, having it’s inaugural game in 2006.  This will be Baylor’s first bowl game since the Alamo bowl in 1994.

And finally, the Military Bowl in Washington, D.C. pits the Maryland Terrapins vs. East Carolina on December 29th.  Despite a banner 8-4 season that featured a breakout quarterback and the ACC Coach of the Year, the Terrapins will be playing at home.  The Terrapins had higher hopes for bowl game contention, but given poor attendance at home games, officials overlooked them for the the larger bowls.

More information about other bowl announcements will be coming soon.

Syracuse to face Kansas State in inaugural Pinstripe Bowl

The inaugural New Era Pinstripe Bowl starts off with bang this year with the 7-5 Syracuse Orange who will end their drought of bowl game appearances when they face the 7-5 Kansas State Wildcats in the Bronx, New York on December 30, 2010.  The Pinstripe Bowl invokes the imagery that surrounds Yankee Stadium, without blatantly naming it the Yankee Bowl which it was unofficalled called publically.  This bowl game will also mark the first time a bowl game has been hosted in New York City since the Gotham Bowl in 1962 where the Nebraska Cornhuskers defeated the Miami Hurricanes 36-34. 

The Pinstripe Bowl pairs the fourth-place team from the Big East Conference against the seventh-place team from the Big 12 Conference.  The Syracuse Orange introduce the Pinstripe Bowl in NY. The Orange are not foreign to the old Yankee stadium, having already played there six times (record 5-1), as well as the Polo Grounds, Shea Stadium, and Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.   They have been around!  Being New York natives The Orange obviously have a sizable fan base in the New York City area and should draw record crowds in the new Yankee Stadium.  Quarterback Ryan Nassib leads the Syracuse Orange. Mr. Nassib has in his current season has thrown for 2000+ yards and 16 touchdowns.  Running back Delone Carter has propelled the team even further with 7 touchdowns and 1034 rushing yards.

Kansas State will make their subsequent bowl appearance since 2006 and are led by All Big-12 first team running back Daniel Thomas and second team offensive lineman Zach Kendall and Wade Weibert.  Defensive backs David Garrett, Stephen Harrison, Ty Zimmerman, and all-purpose specialist William Powell are all equally indispensable to the team.  Wildcat fans will not come to the Pinstripe bowl quietly and are likely to create quite the commotion at Yankee Stadium on December 30th as their fans are fiercely loyal.  In the current season, Kansas State recorded its largest attendance total for a six-game home season at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

The Virginia Tech Hokies are Orange Bowl Bound

On Saturday, December 4th, the #12 ranked by BCS Virginia Tech Hokies beat the #20 ranked Florida State Seminoles on Saturday 44 to 33 and have been officially invited by the Bowl Championship Series to participate in the 2011 Orange Bowl which plays at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida..  The Hokies earned their 4th ACC Championship title (2004, 2007, 2008, and 2010) and completed the season with an exciting 11-2 record.  This is the third Orange Bowl that Virginia Tech has participated (1-2) beating the Cinicinnati Bearcats in 2008-2009, while losing to the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2007-2008 match and the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 1996 Orange Bowl.  Frank Beamer, the Hokies head coach, won his 240th game with the win over FSU this Saturday.  Beamer has the second most wins of any active coach in division I-FBS , next to Joe Paterno from Penn State.  However, Joe’s been coaching since 1966!

The Hokies Orange Bowl participation is particularly surprising given they started off the season 0-2 before rising to the occasion and carrying out a perfect ACC regular season.    The number of players from VA Tech that were recently named first- or second-team All-ACC by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association is very extraordinary.   The team is rich with talent as 11 players took home the accolades; quarterback Tyrod Taylor, kicker Chris Hazley, and cornerback Jayron Hosley were named to the 1st team, while guard Jaymes Brooks, tackle Blake DeChristopher, special teams return man David Wilson, defensive end Steven Friday, tackle John Graves, linebacker Bruce Taylor, safety Davon Morgan, and punter Brian Saunders all earned 2nd team honors.

The Orange Bowl is part of the Bowl Championship Series(BCS) and typically features the ACC Champion against the 2nd best at large selections – the Sugar Bowl gets the highest ranked at large bid.  The Orange Bowl got its starts in 1935 and is the second oldest college football bowl gamein the country behind the Rose Bowl (originated in 1902).  This will be Virginia Tech’s fourth appearance, but hopefully their second win!

Cubs Legend Ron Santo Passes Away

It’s a sad day for Cubs Fans today.  Cubs legend, former player and voice for the team, Ron Santo passed away overnight from complications from diabetes and a courageous battle with bladder cancer.  He was 70.

Cubs chairman, Tom Ricketts said, “My siblings and I first knew Ron Santo as fans, listening to him in the broadcast booth.  We knew him for his passion, his loyalty, his great personal courage and his tremendous sense of humor. It was our great honor to get to know him personally in our first year as owners.

Ronnie will forever be the heart and soul of Cubs fans. Our thoughts and prayers today are with his wife Vicki and their family and we share with fans across the globe in mourning the loss of our team’s number one fan and one of the greatest third basemen to ever play the game.

Mr. Santo spent 14 years in the major leagues from 1960 – 1974, mainly playing 3rd base for the Chicago Cubs.  On June 22, 1969, he became known for a heel click, against the Montreal Expos.   Entering the bottom of the ninth inning, the Expos were leading 6 to 3.   One out was on the board and second baseman Paul Popovich hit a single, he advanced to second base after another single by left fielder Billy Williams. Although Santo grounded out for the second out, Popovich and Williams advanced a base. Then first baseman Ernie Banks, hit a single to bring home Williams and Popovich and bring the Cubs within a run. Rick Bladt substituted as a pinch-runner for Banks. That set it up for Cubs right fielder Jim Hickman, who hit a two-run walk-off home run to take the game, 7-6. When Hickman reached home plate, Santo was so exhilarated that after congratulating him by embracing and knocking him on his head, Santo took off down the third base line and jumped three times, clicking his heels on each jump.

Ron Santo has been a long time fan-favorite for being inducted into the Hall of Fame.  He first became eligible in 1980.  It has been a long, sad journey for him and his quest for admission.    He finished finished first in voting for the 2007 and 2009 inductions, but fell short of the required number of votes each year.   After further major changes to the Veterans Committee voting process announced in 2010, Santo’s next opportunity for admission would be the class of 2012.  The Cubs retired his jersey on September 28, 2003, and on that day, Ron said, “This is my Hall of Fame!”

Opening day tickets have gone on sale already for the Chicago Cubs

RIP, Mr. Santo.