Moon: Live blogging from Saints-Seahawks

Moon: Live blogging from Saints-Seahawks

Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011
Updated at 7:03 PM
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

If the Green Bay Packers defeat the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday night, which I expect them to, the Bears will be playing the new Americas Team.

Americans love a no-chance underdog and there never has been an underdog given less of a chance than the Seattle Seahawks a 10-12 point dog in their own building, one of the most difficult venues for a visitor in the entire NFL.

The team that was being given short shrift to the point of calls starting for an overhaul of the playoff seeding drilled the defending Super Bowl champions by a 41-36 count. Perfect.

And anyone who thinks the Bears would prefer to play the Seattle Seahawks from among the remaining playoff teams needs to take a long, hard look. The Bears likely wouldnt give the Seahawks the kind of play-calling gifts that Mike Martz gave them in Seattles regular-season win (45 pass plays, 12 running plays) but there are no byes in the playoffs once you get past the actual bye week.

The Bears would draw Philadelphia next Sunday if the Eagles get past the Packers. That will not be any more difficult than the Seattle Seahawks would be.

How could this be happening to New Orleans? By the Seattle Seahawks?

The Saints may come back with a Drew Brees rally from a two-touchdown deficit, but understand why this sort of thing can happen.

Ill illustrate:

Some years ago I worked covering Arlington Park Racetrack and that included the Arlington Million. What I noticed at one point was the number of winners and high finishers that were odds longshots. I asked a prominent trainer why this happened so frequently.

His answer applied to this years NFL playoffs. He told me that there were no bad horses in the field. There were very good ones, even some great ones, but you werent in this field if you were a gluepot.

The Seattle Seahawks may have suffered each of their nine losses by at least 15 points. But they also defeated the Bears and San Diego Chargers, two teams with winning records. In other words, they were not and arent, as the New Orleans Saints found out as Seattle was outscoring them 27-3 after the early Saints lead, gluepots.

Seattle doesnt appear to be in the spirit of this whole playoff thing, dontcha think? The Seahawks dont deserve a home playoff game, for one thing.ooops.

And special teams that handed New Orleans a gift with an out-of-bounds kickoff to start the game has nailed Saints kickoff returners three times inside the New Orleans 20. And suddenly New Orleans is close to taking a standing eight count.

In a game that is so influenced by turnovers, Seattle kicking off out of bounds to give the Saints a short field at the New Orleans 40 was a virtual turnover to start the game. Then the Seahawks gave New Orleans another gift on an interception that started the Saints offense at the Seattle 35.

The Seahawks holding New Orleans to a field goal after the OB kickoff was a stop. But New Orleans turned the mishandled passinterception into a touchdown, meaning the Saints basically have 10 points off turnovers in less than 9 minutes.

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

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USA TODAY

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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USA TODAY

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.