Blackhawks breakdown: Jamal Mayers

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Blackhawks breakdown: Jamal Mayers

CSNChicago.com Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers and PGL host Chris Boden will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Hawks roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.

In his 13th full season, the 37-year-old Jamal Mayers played in 81 games and averaged just under 10 minutes per game playing primarily on the fourth line and seeing some time on the penalty-killing unit. Mayers scored six goals and had nine assists, finishing at minus-4. He accumulated 91 penalty minutes and delivered 102 hits. Mayers only played in three of the six playoff games, going minus-1 with five hits and zero points.

Boden's take: It was one of the curious twists in the playoff series with Phoenix: Jamal Mayers' benching after Game 3. He played his role almost to perfection during the entire regular season, missing just one game due to illness, protecting his teammates as well as anyone and guiding a lot of inexperienced linemates along. Joel Quenneville denied right after the season that it had anything to do with Mayers not going after Raffi Torres when his hit ended the season for Marian Hossa (Brandon Bollig jumped right in). Mayers won 56 percent of his faceoffs during the regular season, but struggled late and into the Coyotes series. Quenneville said he just wanted to give a different look with Brendan Morrison, who wound up playing his best hockey for the Hawks in Games 4, 5 and 6.

Myers' take: The Blackhawks, and especially Quenneville, knew what they were getting when they brought in Mayers this season: a tough, supporting-cast veteran who wasn't afraid to defend a teammate. He was the only one who did so when Jonathan Toews was getting smacked around by the San Jose Sharks back in February. But after filling the job duties during the regular season, Mayers was suddenly a healthy scratch for the Blackhawks' final three postseason games. Some wondered if Mayers was benched after not retaliating after Torres' hit on Hossa in Game 3 against the Coyotes, but Quenneville said that had nothing to do with the scratching. Whatever the reason, Mayers was out.

2012-13 Expectations

Boden: Once Mayers finally talked about his benching, he placed the blame squarely on his shoulders for "putting himself" in a position where he was scratched, without providing further details. He was certainly worthy of re-signing to another one-year contract (costing just 550,000 last season), but the way things ended casts a dark cloud on his return. His offensive output was the same as it'd been the previous three years. Mayers definitely has some hockey left in him as he turns 38 in October. It just doesn't appear, at this point, to be a second straight year here. And right now, the center depth chart reads Toews, Patrick Kane, Dave Bolland and Marcus Kruger.

Myers: Re-signing Mayers looked like a distinct possibility through the winter months. Now it seems doubtful for several reasons. The biggest was that postseason benching. Here are two more: (1) Mayers will turn 38 in the fall and the Blackhawks have younger guys (Brandon Bollig, Jimmy Hayes), who can fill their sizeedge needs. (2) The Blackhawks have already re-signed younger agitator Daniel Carcillo, whom general manager Stan Bowman showered praise (without even being asked about the forward) on the season-ending media day.
How do you feel about this evaluation? As always, be sure to chime in with your thoughts by commenting below and check out highlights of Mayers above.

Up next: Viktor Stalberg

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.