There were a couple of good Bowl games played this week, and two trends emerged out of these games. First, Oklahoma should not be slept on, and Second, Utah is good and very fast.
Oklahoma met 6th ranked Oregon in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl on Thursday evening, in one of the most anticipated games in the none BCS season. Oregon was the highest ranked team in the nation not to be invited to a BCS game. Thursday’s game was to give them an opportunity to prove to the BCS and the country that they were one of the countries elite squads, and make prove the BCS wrong in it picks. The Ducks found out that redemption was harder earned than previously thought. The Oklahoma Sooner's had a rough ride over the course of the season, dating all the way back to the end of last season where they were run out of the Orange Bowl by USC. This season had many difficulties for the Sooners. Dropping early games to TCU and UCLA Oklahoma went from a top 15 team to unranked and forgotten in just a few weeks. Yet, while the rest of the nation was transfixed with USC and Texas, Oklahoma was steadily rebuilding its team. Freshmen QB Rhett Bomar gained experience, and confidence while learning the position on the job. He matured into a solid QB, and is emerging as a leader of the team to aid Adrian Petterson. Most of the country never saw any of this taking place, but the Oregon Ducks met the new look Sooners on Thursday and was not ready for what they saw. Oklahoma returned to fashion with a smothering defense. They never allowed Oregon to establish the deep ball, which in turn bottled up and stifled the entire offense. The game ended up being a defensive battle with a finial score one might expect from the Barry Switzer era not the Stoops era, but defense still wins in Norman Oklahoma. The Sooners sent a message out to the country that they will soon return to their former level of prestige. Oregon also showed the country that maybe the BCS got it right again. Can you imagine having to watch OSU v. Oregon instead of OSU v. Notre Dame? Yeah, Oregon ended up where they belonged.
Out in San Francisco the Rambling Wreck of Georgia Tech met up with the Utes of Utah. Both teams came into the game with records of 7-5, but on the field there was nothing even about these two squads. Utah road a deceive home field advantage, and rolled over the Yellow Jackets. Reggie Ball and company never got on the same page to get their offense moving on Thursday. The Utes defense came out strong and put constant pressure on Ball. Forcing him to throw two costly turnovers early in the game; which in turn allowed Utah to jump out to a 20-0 lead? The speed of the Utah defensive line was impressive. They were able to get ample pressure up the middle just by rushing four. On the offensive side of the ball, Georgia Tech had no answer for the spread option offense of Utah. QB Brett Ratliff was able to have his way as he threw for a Utah bowl game record of 381 yards, and 4 TD’s. Most of those yards and all the touchdowns were racked up by WR Travis LeDendresse who had 214 yards receiving. The only thing to slow LeDendresse down was crashing into the back wall after catching his fourth TD pass. Utah dominated the point of attack. The spread offense was able to create WR on linebacker match ups that favored the Utes. The other impressive factor of the Utah team was the speed of the offensive line. The linemen for Utah are massive and strong, but deceptively mobile. Many of the Yellowjacket DB’s found themselves getting blocked 10 yards downfield by a mountain of a man. Urban Myers may be gone along with Alex Smith, but Utah is still a dangerous team as Georgia Tech found out. Without the perfect season they got lost playing out in the Mountain West. However, much like last year Utah came out to play on a national stage and delivered the goods with the swagger of a champion. The athletic ability of Utah cannot be denied. They took the field Thursday night with the confidence that they can play with any team out there. I am not saying they are a national powerhouse, but if Utah played in a major in a major conference we would hear their name called more often.
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