It's back to business as usual today with the holiday season pretty much behind us. The Stack is here to talk about all of the big stories from New Years Day so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Thursday, January 2:
UCF runs by Baylor
Every year in one of the major BCS bowl games there is a surprise. Whether or not Baylor just didn't take UCF seriously enough or if UCF is much better than their ranking and we all think, either way UCF ran by Baylor 52-42 to win the Fiesta Bowl. Storm Johnson stormed (sorry had to do it) by the Baylor defense, rushing for 124 yards and two touchdowns, Blake Bortles is a legit QB throwing for 301 yards and three touchdowns and UCF outgained Baylor. Baylor, what happened? Where was that high power offense? They were not in synch for much of the game and their defense was nowhere in sight to begin the game. When they needed a stop, they couldn't get it. Huge win for UCF. They will be taken pretty seriously, especially by the voters at the end of this year and next year.
Michigan State comes up roses
An old school battle broke out in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl yesterday. Two great defenses. Tough, physical battles in the trenches. Stanford jumped out early to a 10-0 first quarter lead and you kind of thought "this could be a long one for Sparty." They battled back and scored a touchdown to get within three and got the ball back before sophomore quarterback Connor Cook threw a bad pass right to Stanford that was returned for a pick six, giving Stanford a 17-7. Again, Michigan State answered and trailed 17-14 at the half. Whatever was said at halftime, whatever adjustments were made, they were the correct ones because Michigan State shut down Stanford's offense in the second half and played great offensively. Cook put a pass right on the money to Tony Lippett for a 25-yard touchdown that proved to be the go-ahead and game-winning score. Stanford was stopped late on fourth down by Kyler Elsworth, a former walk-on and filling in for the great Max Bullough who was suspended for a violation of team rules. It all ended coming up roses for Michigan State who won the Rose Bowl 24-20, their first Rose Bowl win since 1988. That happens to be the last time they were at the Rose Bowl. Michigan State played great defense the entire year. Head coach Mike Dantonio has done a marvelous job with the program and there is no reason to think Sparty won't be a great team in the Big Ten for a few years to come.
In the other bowl games from yesterday, Nebraska edged Georgia 24-19, LSU topped Iowa 21-14, North Texas crushed UNLV 36-14 and South Carlina topped Wisconsin 34-24. Overall, great day of bowl games.
Winter Classic is a classic, US Olympic team announced
The Big House in Ann Arbor saw a hockey game in the elements yesterday as the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings played in front of 105,491 fans, a record for any hockey game. It was snowing so the game took a little longer as crews had to shovel snow from the ice surface delaying things slightly, but it was still really fun to watch. Toronto beat Detroit 3-2 in a shootout and there were quite a few Maple Leafs fans in attendance. Given how close Toronto is to Detroit and Ann Arbor and with how many people can fit in the Big House, that's not a complete surprise. It was fun to watch. The NHL really got it right by doing the Winter Classic on New Year's Day. Hope that their Stadium Series this year with games at Yankee Stadium and Dodger Stadium doesn't diminish this at all.
After the game, the US roster for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, was announced. Below is the roster. Looks like a pretty good team that will try to win gold.# Forwards Club Height Weight DOB Birthplace 42 D. Backes STL 6'3" 221 5/1/1984 Minneapolis, MN 23 D. Brown LAK 6'0" 212 11/4/1984 Ithaca, NY 24 R. Callahan NYR 5'11" 180 3/21/1985 Rochester, NY 88 P. Kane CHI 5'11" 181 1/19/1988 Buffalo, NY 17 R. Kesler VAN 6'2" 202 8/31/1984 Livonia, MI 81 P. Kessel TOR 6'0" 202 10/2/1987 Madison, WI 74 T.J. OshiE STL 5'11" 189 12/23/1986 Warroad, MN 61 M. Pacioretty MTL 6'2" 219 11/20/1988 New Canaan, CT 9 Z. Parise MIN 5'11" 190 7/28/1984 Minneapolis, MN 8 J. Pavelski SJS 5'11" 190 7/11/1984 Plover, WI 26 P. Stastny COL 6'0" 205 12/27/1985 St. Louis, MO 21 D. Stepan NYR 6'0" 196 6/18/1990 Hastings, MN 21 J. van Riemsdyk TOR 6'3" 200 5/4/1989 Middletown, NJ 26 B. Wheeler WPG 6'5" 205 8/31/1986 Robbinsdale, MN # Defense Club Height Weight DOB Birthplace 74 J. Carlson WSH 6'3" 212 1/10/1990 Colonia, NJ 27 J. Faulk CAR 6'0" 215 3/20/1992 South St. Paul, MN 4 C. Fowler ANA 6'1" 196 3/5/1991 Farmington Hills, MI 7 P. Martin PIT 6'1" 200 3/5/1981 Elk River, MN 27 R. McDonagh NYR 6'1" 213 6/13/1989 St. Paul, MN 44 B. Orpik PIT 6'2" 219 9/26/1980 Amherst, NY 22 K. Shattenkirk STL 5'11" 207 1/29/1989 Greenwich, CT 20 R. Suter MIN 6'1" 198 1/21/1985 Madison, WI # Goalies Club Height Weight DOB Birthplace 35 J. Howard DET 6'0" 218 3/26/1984 Syracuse, NY 30 R. Miller BUF 6'2" 175 7/17/1980 East Lansing, MI 32 J. Quick LAK 6'1" 218 1/21/1986 Milford, CT
Teddy Bridgewater, Jadaveon Clowney declare for the draft
This news was probably the least surprising of the day, but two players who will go within the top five picks of the 2014 NFL Draft in May declared they were leaving school yesterday. Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, predicted to be the number one overall pick in the draft declared who will not return to school for his senior season. Bridgewater is the number one quarterback in the draft and there are a number of quarterback needy teams so if he doesn't go one, it won't be long before he is drafted. Also unsurprising was South Carolina defensive end Jadaveon Clowney declaring after his team's win over Wisconsin that he will go to the NFL Draft. Best defensive end in the draft, maybe the best defensive player to declare in quite sometime. He won't wait long either for his name to be read. Good decision by both guys.
Lovie Smith chooses Tampa
Houston filled its head coaching position with Bill O'Brien and another team has quickly followed suit. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have agreed with former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith to be the team's next head coach. Smith was an assistant in Tampa previously. It's a good hire by Tampa Bay. Smith will bring stability to the organization. He is a steady figure and it's a good move. How other teams weren't more interested in Smith is a little stunning. Their loss is Tampa's gain. Smith will turn Tampa around pretty quickly. Two down, four to go.
Allstate Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA) 8:30 PM ET ESPN
#11 Oklahoma vs. #3 Alabama
Why?: Alabama, assuming they're interested, wants to get the bad taste of that Auburn loss out of their mouths. Oklahoma has a chance and Bob Stoops would love to beat Alabama based on what he said in the offseason, but Alabama is just too talented.
Coming up Friday: NFL Wildcard preview and predictions