Quick takes on college sports


LITTLE ROCK — Back to back BCS snoozers on Jan. 1, the Rose Bowl and the Orange Bowl are connected by more than time slots.

Rose Bowl participants Stanford and five-loss Wisconsin, plus the two-team limit on BCS bowl participants from one conference, put Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl against Florida State. Stanford beat UCLA twice in six days and the Bruins fell from No. 16 to No. 17 in the BCS standings while Wisconsin scored 70 on Nebraska and the Cornhuskers dropped from No. 12 to No. 16. MAC champion Northern Illinois qualified by finishing No. 15.

Meanwhile, No. 7 Georgia, No. 8 LSU, No. 9 Texas A&M and No. 10 South Carolina of the Southeastern Conference are in lesser bowls.

Take heart in knowing that the current BCS system is kaput after the 2013 season.

The Heisman Trophy race is between Notre Dame’s senior linebacker and Texas A&M’s freshman quarterback.

Needing extraordinary against Texas in his final campaign appearance, Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein authored typical — three touchdowns and 287 yards.

Manti Te’o, Johnny Manziel and Klein will be in New York Saturday for the ceremony. If he wins, Te’o says, it would be a victory for all defensive players. It also would reflect on the athletes who exited the spotlight during the season, a bias against freshman, a love affair with an unbeaten Notre Dame or all of the above.

Nice gesture Saturday evening by Arkansas State University’s Gus Malzahn.

Surrounded by hundreds of fans who poured onto the field, the first-year head coach was presented the Sun Belt Conference trophy, Malzahn handed it to senior quarterback Ryan Aplin and senior linebacker Nathan Harrold and stepped aside.

ASU got the short end of the stick on bowl assignments with a return trip to Mobile. Missing out on the New Orleans Bowl was not a big deal, but the Liberty Bowl seemed like the perfect fit and a game in Memphis would have gotten the attention of casual football fans in Arkansas who know the Razorbacks were there on Jan. 2, 2010.

Considered a positive in April, the lag between the firing of Bobby Petrino and the hiring of X has affected fans in two ways.

First, there are inflated expectations that go hand in hand with months of babble about some recognizable coaches who were never considered by UA athletic director Jeff Long.

Second, the extended speculation has wearied many who are ready to find out the name and move on.

So far, the Arkansas basketball team has been a disappointment from three-point range, and it is difficult to beat a good opponent without outside shooting. Freshman Anthlon Bell was touted as a designated shooter and he leads the team with six threes in six games, but he has attempted 22. B.J. Young has tried 19 and made three while Mardracus Wade, who led the SEC in 3-point percentage last year at 47.6 percent, is 4-of-14.

Partly because Georgia was my published pick and partly because I think quarterback Aaron Murray is wrongly labeled as unable to win the big game, I regret that Georgia wide receiver Chris Conley has such good instincts.

With the ball at the Alabama 8, Murray had time for two passes into the end zone. The first was supposed to be a fade that would be a touchdown or an incomplete. Instead, Conley reacted to the tipped ball and made the catch.

Murray deserves kudos for starting from his 15 with 1:08 to play and completing 4-of-5 prior to the final throw.

Stanford overwhelmed UCLA 35-17 in the final game of the regular season and struggled mightily to beat the same bunch six days later. The easy explanation — Stepfan Taylor had 20 carries for 142 yards the first time around and 24 for 78 in the do-over.

Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His email address is hking@arkansasnews.com.