For the defense, plenty of 'F's' to go around

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For the defense, plenty of 'F's' to go around

SAN FRANCISCO The 49ers put 10 points squarely on the defense in the first two possessions and six minutes, more points than any opponent has scored in a first quarter all season and this with a quarterback making a first NFL start.

With three minutes to play in the second quarter the Bears already had allowed more yards (241) to Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers than they gave the St. Louis Rams (160), Jacksonville Jaguars (189) and Houston Texans (215) for their entire games.

One player said that the defense expected Kaepernick to throw an interception or two. That points to perhaps taking a virtual rookie too lightly, which appeared the case at times judging from the results. It was a complete whipping in all areas.

DEFENSIVE LINE: F

No lineman had more than Julius Peppers two tackles and Kaepernick was hit just four times, two of those by linebackers. Corey Wootton started for Israel Idonije and shared a sack with Idonije, but the Bears got next to no pressure throughout and that exposed a secondary that had its own problems giving up big plays.

The 49ers ran for 123 yards, down from their league-leading 170 per game, and Frank Gore finished with 78. But while Gore and Kendall Hunter had no gain longer than 14 yards, the linemen were consistently out of their gaps and allowing blockers and backs to reach the second level. Some was the result of missed tackles but too often there was only one Bear at the point of contact.

LINEBACKERS: D-

Like the linemen, backers were not fast enough with run fills after when the front four were being handled. Scheme may have placed individuals in difficult spots, and tight end Vernon Davis caught six of the eight passes thrown to him, although not all on linebackers.

Lance Briggs had six tackles and Brian Urlacher seven, and each had a tackle for loss. Briggs and Nick Roach each had a hit on Kaepernick. But 49ers running backs Gore and Hunter averaged nearly five yards per carry, too often getting yards after first contact.

SECONDARY: F-

One of the worst performances in some time by virtually the entire defensive backfield.

Chris Conte got the Bears off to a dismal start by committing a stupid late-hit personal foul on the games first play. That was just the beginning.

Kelvin Hayden was beaten badly for a 57-yard gain on the 49ers second series, setting up a TD pass to Davis, who was completely lost by Major Wright. When the 49ers missed on a second-quarter pass to set up a third-and-long, Wright was holding to give away the red-zone first down.

Wright, who led the Bears with eight solo tackles, missed a third-down tackle of Michael Crabtree to allow a conversion on a second-quarter drive.

Tim Jennings was credited with five solo tackles but he whiffed on a tackle for a 37-yard completion on a drive that ended with Charles Tillman losing Crabtree for 10-yard TD pass in the third quarter.

COACHING: F

The 49ers came out with formations and play designs they had not shown previously and the Bears were completely outplayed as well as unable to adjust. San Francisco used jumbo packages and had man advantages repeatedly at points of attack, then isolated Davis on linebackers and safeties in single coverages they couldnt execute.

Whether the problems were because of what San Francisco was showing or exactly what was difficult to discern. The 49ers appeared to use some of the Houston scheme for stretching the front seven, which lost gaps repeatedly and appeared to take a young quarterback lightly.

SPECIAL TEAMS

What was expected by many to be a close and low-scoring game that might turn on a special-teams play turned out to be a blowout with special-teams figuring into virtually none of the outcome.

KICKING: B

Adam Podlesh put some questions about his punting to rest with an average of 46.8 yards on five kicks. One was dropped inside the San Francisco 5-yard line.

COVERAGE: C

Ted Ginn Jr. averaged 21 yards on three kickoff returns with a long of 23. Ginn ran back four punts for an average of five yards per return.

RETURNS: D

Devin Hester averaged 25.2 yards on five kickoff returns, consistently getting up the field, just against solid coverage units that maintained their lanes. But returning punts was another matter. Hester had several respectable returns but his minus-9 on a late punt in the third quarter was a small shot of wrong-way for an offense that was doing enough of it on its own. He took a fourth-quarter punt inside the 5, ran sideways and barely made the 10.

COACHING: C

The Bears did so little scoring that kickoff-coverage units were seldom used but punt coverage was well schooled.

Hawkeyes going to Outback Bowl for fifth time, taking on Florida

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Hawkeyes going to Outback Bowl for fifth time, taking on Florida

Iowa is going back to the Outback Bowl.

Yes, for the fifth time in the last 13 seasons, the Hawkeyes will wrap their campaign with a trip to Tampa and an appearance in the Outback Bowl. And for the third time, their opponent there will be the Florida Gators. That game kicks at noon on Jan. 2.

Iowa and Florida met in the Outback Bowl to conclude the 2003 and 2005 seasons, splitting those two matchups.

This time around, the Hawkeyes are coming off an 8-4 regular season, a disappointing follow up to their 12-2 campaign a season ago that started off a perfect 12-0 before postseason losses in the Big Ten title game and the Rose Bowl.

Kirk Ferentz has led his team to a bowl appearance in 14 of his 18 seasons, though Iowa has lost the last four of those games, without a bowl win since taking down Missouri in the 2010 Insight Bowl.

Iowa is 2-2 in its four previous Outback Bowl appearances, beating Florida, losing to Florida, beating South Carolina and losing to LSU.

As for the Gators, they own an 8-4 record, as well, after falling to Alabama in Saturday’s SEC Championship Game. Florida is known for its sluggish offense, one of the lowest-scoring teams in the country.

Start spreadin' the news: Northwestern to face Pitt in Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium

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Start spreadin' the news: Northwestern to face Pitt in Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium

Start spreadin' the news.

Northwestern is heading to New York for its bowl game this season, specifically the Bronx, where it will battle Pittsburgh in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.

Though it isn't your typically warm bowl destination, the baseball-stadium setting should be pretty fantastic. The game will be played at 1 p.m. on Dec. 28.

The Wildcats reached bowl eligibility with their sixth win in the regular-season finale against Illinois. Northwestern is heading to back-to-back bowl games after missing out on the postseason in back-to-back seasons in 2013 and 2014.

This is just the 13th-ever bowl trip for the Cats, though it's their seventh in 11 seasons under Pat Fitzgerald. Northwestern has a 1-5 record under Fitzgerald in the previous six bowl games, though that win is one of just two all-time bowl victories by the program.

This season started slowly for the Cats, who lost upsetting home games to Illinois State and Western Michigan and started 1-3. But Northwestern turned things around with back-to-back road wins over Iowa and Michigan State and finished 6-6. The Cats' offense has been particularly effective this season compared to seasons past. Wide receiver Austin Carr took home Big Ten Receiver of the Year honors and is a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award after leading the conference in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches. Running back Justin Jackson was the league's leading rusher until getting surpassed by just a couple yards by both Wisconsin's Corey Clement and Penn State's Saquon Barkley, who both competed in Saturday night's Big Ten Championship Game, adding to their respective rushing totals.

Pitt has had a pretty noteworthy season. Despite having four losses, it beat two teams that finished ranked in the top five of the College Football Playoff rankings: No. 2 Clemson and No. 5 Penn State. The Panthers are coached by former Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi.