1. Bowl games don’t always present the crispest form of football, not after teams have sat for a month. But since both teams are dealing with rust, sometimes we are lucky enough to watch what we saw in the Belk Bowl on Thursday night. Duke and Cincinnati each blew double-digit leads before the Bearcats scored two touchdowns in the final 80 seconds to win 48-34. Sometimes, crisp isn’t necessary.
2. Move over, Mike Riley. The Oregon State head coach is renowned for the improvement that his teams show from the beginning of the season to the end. Look at what Art Briles is doing at Baylor. After the Bears defeated No. 17 UCLA, 49-26, in the Holiday Bowl on Thursday night, Baylor finished by winning five of its final six games, three against ranked opponents. Throw in 2011, and Baylor is 5-1 against ranked teams in November and December.
3. Stanford offensive line coach Mike Bloomgren has worked in Division II and worked in the NFL. He calls the No. 6 Cardinal’s run to the Pac-12 Conference championship in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year “probably the most gratifying season I’ve ever had in coaching.” Bloomgren expected a good season, but not this. With an inexperienced quarterback and little in the way of veteran depth, “I was hoping we’d win our share,” he said.