No. 24 Spartans eye 11th win in Military Bowl


No. 24 Spartans eye 11th win in Military Bowl

Mike MacIntyre engineered a stunning turnaround at San Jose State that allowed him to move to a more high-profile job.

Dave Clawson went backwards a bit after a solid first season with Bowling Green, but the fourth-year coach now has his program on the upswing.

Teams that combined for three victories two years ago meet Thursday in the Military Bowl when the No. 24 Spartans face the Falcons for the first time.

Neither of these teams could have been expected to be headed to bowls in 2012 based on how MacIntyre fared at San Jose State in 2010 and Clawson did at Bowling Green that same year.

MacIntyre inherited a program that won two games in 2009 and guided the Spartans to a 1-12 mark in his first season. A 5-7 season followed before San Jose State went 10-2 this year to finish in second place in the Western Athletic Conference and clinch the program's first postseason game since the 2006 New Mexico Bowl.

"It's all new for all of us," senior tight end Ryan Otten said. "I was here on teams when we won one game, two games. We were toward the bottom of college football. Now, to crack the Top 25, we've come so far."

MacIntyre has moved on as he was named the coach at Colorado. Defensive coordinator Kent Baer will be the team's interim coach for this game.

"We want to thank Mike for the tremendous job that he did," San Jose State athletic director Gene Bleymaier said. "He turned the program around and did it the right way with character kids and by stressing academics. Mike provided us with a nice model moving forward for our next head coach to follow."

The Spartans have won six straight and can reach the 11-win plateau for the first time since the 1939 team went 13-0.

Clawson, meanwhile, took over at Bowling Green in 2009 and went 7-6 with a trip to the Humanitarian Bowl his first season. Campaigns of 2-10 and 5-7 followed before the Falcons went 8-4 this year - their first eight-win season since 2007 - and their coach is eager for this trip to RFK Stadium.

"We really hope all of Falcon nation, as many people as possible will come out and support us and hopefully make it a home-field advantage for us," Clawson said. "It's a much easier trip from Bowling Green, Ohio, than San Jose, California."

Although this will be a longer journey for San Jose State, it visited Washington earlier this season and beat Navy 12-0 on Sept. 29. The Spartans actually went through some of their plays on the National Mall.

Both teams feature the respective defensive players of the year in their conferences.

San Jose State lineman Travis Johnson earned the honor in the WAC after finishing with 12 sacks and leading the conference with 19 tackles for loss.

The 19 tackles for loss is the same total recorded by Bowling Green tackle Chris Jones, the Mid-American Conference player of the year. Jones finished third in the nation with 12 1/2 sacks for a defense ranked seventh nationally, allowing 289.7 yards per game.

Jones is the third Falcon to earn the honor, joining Vince Palko in 1993 and a name familiar to Bay Area football fans - former Oakland Raiders great Phil Villapiano - in 1970.

Bowling Green's defense was the top-ranked unit in the MAC. Linebackers Gabe Martin (69 tackles), Dwayne Woods (60) and Paul Swan (60) are other linchpins for the Falcons.

Woods is the only linebacker among that group who will be playing his final game.

"I've struggled this season with a back injury, ankle injury," Woods said. "It finally feels good to really be healthy and just really push through everything."

The Falcons will try to slow down David Fales, a junior college transfer in his first year as the Spartans quarterback. Fales finished seventh in the nation with 3,798 passing yards and tied for the WAC lead with 31 touchdown passes.

Fales has inviting targets in receivers Chandler Jones and Noel Grigsby. Jones led the team with 10 TD receptions while Grigsby had nine and 1,173 yards.

Bowling Green was not known for offense, finishing 11th in the MAC with 373.9 yards per game. Anthon Samuel gained a team-best 966 yards rushing, although eight of his team-high 10 touchdowns on the ground came in the first six games.

Three-year starter Matt Schilz is third in school history with 7,673 passing yards. He had 2,426 yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this season.

This is the first time in the five-year history of the Military Bowl that it has featured a ranked team.

Cal’s Sonny Dykes: Quick turnaround ‘not ideal’ for Bears


Cal’s Sonny Dykes: Quick turnaround ‘not ideal’ for Bears

BERKELEY  — Two days before California plays its second game in less than a week against a well-rested USC team, coach Sonny Dykes was still trying to figure out why the Golden Bears were put in this position.

The quick turnaround and short week following Friday's double-overtime win against Oregon forced Cal to condense its normal schedule, something that wouldn't bother Dykes so much if there weren't so many other factors involved.

The Bears already had to trim a day off their regular routine because Thursday night's game is on the road. On top of that, several Cal players are in the middle of midterm exams, reducing their availability for practice even more.

It's a topic that Dykes has been simmering over for a few weeks now and one he wasn't ready to back off of Tuesday.

"When you sit down and look at the schedule, clearly it's not ideal," Dykes said "It's one of those deals where you just go, 'How in the world did this ever happen? How could somebody let this happen?'"

Cal (4-3, 2-2 Pac-12) was coming off a 12-day break when it beat Oregon in Berkeley on Friday night in a game that lasted nearly 4 ½ hours and didn't end until almost midnight local time. The Bears ran 118 plays offensively against the Ducks, which Dykes said was the equivalent of playing two games.

On the other hand, USC (4-3, 3-2) hasn't played since thumping Arizona 48-14 on Oct. 15.

While some team would have had to play the Trojans coming off a bye, Dykes can't understand why the Bears were selected to do it on short rest — and on the road.

"We've had to make a lot of schedule changes and do a lot of different things out of the norm," Dykes said. "It's one thing to do it on six days' notice. It's another to do it on the road. But our guys have handled it well."

The Bears shortened their work week to try to get everything in.

Players were given Saturday off but were back on the field Sunday afternoon. Cal practiced on its normal day off, Monday, but several players were unable to attend due to academic responsibilities.

"The challenge you always face is making sure that you balance keeping them fresh with getting enough reps and developing your young players," Dykes said. "Just teaching them all the things you need to teach them about your opponent in a limited amount of time. We've got to balance getting some work done but at the same time making sure we're fresh."

Cal's players don't seem bothered by the quick turnaround.

Defensive back Cameron Walker and left tackle Aaron Cochran said the short week means more emphasis on studying USC and doing extra film work.

Quarterback Davis Webb, on the other hand, doesn't think it will be much of an issue at all.

"It's a challenge but I think it's a mindset at the same time," Webb said. "We understand that's how the schedule rolled for us this year and there are no excuses. We have to play a tough team on Thursday night and we look forward to the challenge. If you don't know the game plan and what they're going to do by Thursday then you're in trouble."

Chryst to make his first career start for Stanford


Chryst to make his first career start for Stanford

STANFORD  — Stanford junior Keller Chryst will make his first collegiate start at quarterback at Arizona on Saturday, coach David Shaw said Tuesday.

He'll replace senior Ryan Burns, who went 4-3 (2-3 Pac-12) in his seven starts. Burns completed nearly 63 percent of his passes for 1,058 yards and five touchdowns. He's also thrown seven interceptions.

"I hate to get to this point," Shaw said. "But it's the best thing for this offense. We need more production at that position. It's our challenge to support Keller."

Burns led the Cardinal to wins over Kansas State, Southern California and UCLA to open the season but has struggled ever since, averaging 11 points in Stanford's last four games, punctuated by Saturday's 10-5 loss to Colorado.

"It can't just be about the quarterback," Shaw said. "We need to help Keller be more effective. We need to be able to score points with this personnel."

Chryst, the son of former 49ers offensive coordinator Geep Chryst, has appeared in 10 games over the past two years, throwing for 122 yards on 12-of-27 passing. He's thrown for one touchdown and one interception.

"I've been working with both all year and they're both great people," Cardinal receiver Trent Irwin said. "Sometimes you just need a change. We'll see where it goes and have fun with it."

Stanford ranks last in the Pac-12 in scoring (17.0) and total offense (299.1). The offense has scored just 10 touchdowns all year, fewer than Washington's John Ross and Arizona State's Kalen Ballage, the conference co-leaders with 11 touchdowns.

"Both quarterbacks are good," Stanford safety Zach Hoffpauir said. "Maybe it does stimulate the offense a little bit."

NOTES: CB Elijah Holder will miss the rest of the season due to an unspecified injury. ... OL David Bright and Johnny Caspers are questionable. ... FB Daniel Marx is out