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News Nuggets, 01.02.05
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Compiled from staff reports and electronic dispatches

Utah domination of Pitt exposes BCS


01.01.05: Cards hang on in Liberty Bowl shootout with Broncos ... Utes poised to cap off perfect season in style ... More...
12.31.04: Offensive juggernauts collide in Liberty Bowl ... Tire Bowl goes flat for North Carolina ... More...
12.30.04: Boston College tests ACC waters in Tire Bowl ... Syracuse reverses field, ousts Pasqualoni ... More...
12.29.04: Petrino flirts with LSU on eve of Liberty Bowl ... Power indexes: Conference ratings... Team ratings ... More...
12.28.04: Utah carries banner of have-nots into Fiesta Bowl ... Tampa slaying perplexes victim's friends ... More...
12.27.04: Vanderbilt football star slain by gunfire in Tampa ... Tulsa coach resigns with C-USA on horizon ... More...
12.26.04: Tulane rewards Scelfo with contract extension ... Big Ten pushes for instant replay for all of I-A ... More...
12.25.04: Chang, Hawaii spoil UAB's bowl debut in shootout ... Memphis bumps West up to $800K per year ... More...
12.24.04: BCS produces sequel to 'Night of the Living Dead' ... Cincy torches Herd in frigid Ft. Worth Bowl ... UAB makes bowl debut against prolific Warriors ... More...
12.23.04: Bowling Green shakes off Memphis in GMAC Bowl ... Primetime bowl preview: Bearcats vs. Herd ... Tranghese: BCS not interested in playoff ... More...
12.22.04: Up-and-coming programs tangle in GMAC bowl ... Petrino hits jackpot with new pact at U of L ... College basketball power indexes ... More...
12.21.04: Cold, hard facts about health swayed Majerus ... Basketball panel tinkering with RPI formula ... More...
12.20.04: GMAC Bowl history sets stage for Tigers-Falcons shootout ... Memphis reinstates Banks after one game ... Mounting attrition challenges Pitino, Cards ... More...
12.19.04: Houston AD livid with Nebraska over cancellation ... Duke cans offensive coordinator Galbraith ... Majerus retreats back to TV booth ... More...
12.18.04: Wolfpack's Hodge not short on self-esteem ,,, James Madison rushes to I-AA championship ... More...
12.17.04: Nebraska icon Osborne irked with aloof AD's ... William & Mary QB captures Payton Award ... More...
12.16.04: Pirates hawking hoops tickets with a twist ... Majerus ditches TV gig to rescue Trojans ... More...
12.15.04: Bowl season kicks off with Southern Miss victory ... Marshall linebacker suspended for bowl game ... More...
12.14.04: Preview: USM, North Texas kick off bowl season ... Former ECU assistants McFarland, Brindise land jobs ... McLendon to bolt Wolfpack for NFL draft ... More...
12.13.04: Musical chairs at full tilt as coaches change jobs ... List of Division I-A coaching changes ... Heisman Trophy chronology 1935-2004 ... More...
12.12.04: Title game of the Heismans set ... All-time Heisman winners list ... Blue- Gray Classic scratched again ... More...

TEMPE — Utah looked like a powerhouse that deserved a better final test to its BCS-busting season.

The fifth-ranked Utes, behind the cool efficiency of Alex Smith, used their baffling spread offense and an underrated defense to dominate 19th-ranked Pittsburgh 35-7 in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday night.

Utah was a 16-point favorite, the biggest margin of any of the bowls, and it was a safe bet.

Smith completed 29 of 37 passes, four of them for touchdowns, for 328 yards, and the Utes sacked Pitt's Tyler Palko nine times, a Fiesta Bowl record.

Smith, a Heisman Trophy finalist who is considering going to the NFL after this, his junior, season, also rushed 15 times for 68 yards.

Paris Warren caught 15 passes, breaking the Fiesta record of 11 set by Kellen Winslow of Miami in the 2003 national championship loss to Ohio State.

Warren, who transferred from Oregon in 2002, had 198 yards receiving, third-most in Fiesta Bowl history. Smith's 78 percent completion rate was also a Fiesta Bowl mark.

``It doesn't get any better than this,'' Warren told the boisterous Utah supporters at the postgame awards ceremony.

Smith and Warren shared the offensive MVP award, and Utah nose guard Steve Fifita was named the defensive MVP.

Coach Urban Meyer punctuated two memorable years in Salt Lake City with the Utes' first unbeaten, untied season since 1930. He leaves for Florida after making Utah the first team from outside the six BCS conferences to force its way into a Bowl Championship Series game.

``This is the best group of young men I've ever been around,'' Meyer said. ``It's going to be hard to say goodbye, but we're saying goodbye 12-0.''

Tens of thousands of Utah fans who made up at least three-fourths of the sellout crowd of 73,519 were not disappointed.

Utah scored touchdowns on five of its first seven possessions, including all three in the third quarter.

``It became pretty obvious pretty quick that Pitt was going to pressure us and that they were going to crowd the line of scrimmage,'' Smith said. ``When you do that with this offense, you're going to have some big plays.''

Out of a dizzying array of formations, the Mountain West Conference champs kept the Panthers off balance all night with everything from option plays to a handful of shovel passes. The Utes set up one touchdown with a reverse and scored another on the old ``hook-and-ladder'' play.

``We practiced that play for two weeks, at least twice a day, and it never worked,'' Smith said.

It worked when it mattered, though.

Smith threw to Steve Savoy, who flipped the ball to Warren. Warren dashed 18 yards for the score, capping a 10-play, 94-yard drive, to put the Utes up 35-7 with 25 seconds left in the third quarter.

Pitt (8-4) was overmatched in its final game under Coach Walt Harris, who is leaving for Stanford after eight seasons with the Panthers. Pittsburgh was the unwanted team among the eight BCS squads.

``I really don't have a lot of feelings right now,'' Harris said. ``I'm kind of numb because, you know, I was hoping that we would play better.''

The Panthers automatically qualified for one of the four elite games as Big East champions, even though they were only 21st in the BCS rankings.

Dave Wannstedt, who resigned this season as coach of the Miami Dolphins, has been hired to replace Harris.

As the BCS buster with a huge following, Utah was welcomed by Fiesta Bowl organizers who had no choice but to invite Pitt as the opponent. The mismatch that many predicted was dead on.

``They are a very good, very explosive team, and it was a tough game for us,'' Harris said. ``We did not match up physically as well as we needed to in order to stay in it, especially offensively.''

In the first half, the Panthers accomplished their goal of controlling the ball and keeping Utah's offense off the field as much as possible. Pitt had a seven-minute advantage in time of possession, but the Utes still led 14-0, even though they had the ball only four times, the last with just 49 seconds to go in the half.

The Panthers were in Utah territory three times in the first half, but four sacks — and a blocked field goal try — kept them scoreless.

Petrino backpedals as LSU zeroes in on Miles

Oklahoma State coach Les Miles is the top choice to replace Nick Saban as LSU's football coach, a source close to the negotiations said Saturday.

Miles could be introduced as Saban's replacement early next week, the source said on the condition of anonymity. The source added that no other interviews had been set up.

The development emerged on a day during which Louisville coach Bobby Petrino, under fire from many Cardinal supporters for seemingly wavering on his recent commitment to the U of L program, withdrew from consideration for the LSU job.

Miles, who led Oklahoma State to three straight bowl games, became the Tigers' number one target after Petrino scratched his name from the pool of candidates.

LSU associate athletic director Herb Vincent said, ``The field has obviously been narrowed.''

Telephone messages left for Miles and his agent, George Bass, weren't immediately returned.

LSU spokesman Michael Bonnette, speaking at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla., where the Tigers lost to Iowa 30-25 in Saban's last game, would not comment on Miles. Bonnette said athletic director Skip Bertman was unavailable.

Oklahoma State spokesman Steve Buzzard said he knew nothing about the reports and had no further comment.

The LSU job opened when Saban took the head coaching job with the Miami Dolphins. The school had hoped to complete the search quickly to allow the new coach to immediately get involved with recruiting. The process was delayed because the most prominent candidates were in bowl games or in the NFL.

Arkansas football coach Houston Nutt withdrew from consideration on Thursday.

LSU had hoped to interview Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, but the parties involved were apparently unable to set up the interview.

Miles is 28-21 in four seasons with the Cowboys, who had made just one bowl appearance in the 12 seasons before he arrived. His biggest wins came against the Cowboys' instate rival, Oklahoma, in his first two seasons.

On Wednesday, Oklahoma State lost 33-7 to Ohio State in the Alamo Bowl.

Saban had the nation's richest college football contract, a seven-year, $18.45 million deal he signed after winning a share of the national title in 2003. The school is completing a stadium expansion and a new football operations center.

Petrino met with LSU officials during the week before his team's appearance in the Liberty Bowl. The meeting came in the wake of Petrino's agreement to a lucrative new contract with Louisville and raised the ire of Cardinal boosters who perceived his flirtation with LSU as inappropriate.

``LSU has a tradition-rich program with much to offer, but as I reflect on what we've accomplished in a short time here at Louisville, we're on the brink of establishing a great program that will compete for a national championship,'' Petrino said in a statement. ``I want to be the coach who sees that through.''

He coached No. 7 Louisville to a 44-40 victory over No. 10 Boise State in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis on Friday.

In his new pact with Louisville, the school had boosted Petrino's income from $550,000 to $1 million a season, plus incentives.

LSU had no comment on Petrino's statement.

News Nuggets are compiled periodically based on material supplied by staff members; data published by ECU, Conference USA and its member schools; and reports from Associated Press and other sources. Copyright 2004 and other publishers. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Page Updated: 02/23/2007 12:20 PM


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