FOX Sports Presents College Football Championship Weekend
UCLA Battles Oregon For Pac-12 Football Championship Friday at 7:30 PM ET
Wisconsin vs. Michigan State For Big Ten Football Championship Saturday at 7:30 PM ET
Aikman on Rodgers: “No One Has Played The Position Better”
FOX SPORTS COLLEGE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS AIR FRIDAY & SATURDAY – Championship weekend on FOX Sports is here! Earlier today, the FOX Sports Media Group conducted a conference call to preview Championship weekend on FOX where the network proudly presents exclusive coverage of the Pac-12 Conference Football Championship game between UCLA and Oregon on Friday, Dec. 2 (7:30 PM ET) and the Big Ten Conference Football Championship game between Wisconsin and Michigan State on Saturday, Dec. 3 (7:30 PM ET). FOX Sports Co-President and Executive Producer Eric Shanks, was joined by FOX Sports college football announcer Gus Johnson and analysts Charles Davis, John Lynch & Dhani Jones to preview both championship telecasts.
Below are highlights transcribed from the preview conference call.
Lynch on Rick Neuheisel coaching his final game after being fired by UCLA: “Rick Neuheisel is handling it in as professional a manner as you can. After practice, I heard him talking about going, ‘deep, deep, deep’ in their playbook. Rick has nothing to lose. I’ve been in those situations both in college and in pros. Players are out of their comfort zones and you can’t blame it on the old coach anymore, it’s on you. What you put out there is going to be on film and you’re playing for your job next year. Some kids are playing for scholarships. Neuheisel has been in a tight situation where he knew that unless he moved the needle on the program, his job was on the line. Now, he takes the gloves off and can coach aggressively.”
Johnson on UCLA storylines: “We have great stories, we have great leading men. UCLA deciding to part ways with Rick Neuheisel gives us a great story. Now, we get to see if coach Neuheisel can wrench out one last stand with his guys. Are they going to come and play real hard for him?”
Lynch on what it’s like to be such a large underdog, like UCLA: “I was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the early-90’s and they called us the “Yucks,” not the Bucs. People say, ‘a 31-point underdog, how could it ever happen?’ How did my alma mater, Stanford, and Jim Harbaugh in his first year go down to the Coliseum and knock off USC when they were at a 41-point underdog? Is it possible? Absolutely. Players know that and coaches are selling it. I’ve been there before. The pressure is off you because you aren’t supposed to win.”
Davis on Pac-12 Football Championship Game being played at the home stadium of the team with the best conference record: “The Pac-12 is not a driving conference, yet it’s one of the most perfectly modeled travel conferences. By comparison, the SEC is a driving conference. You can pretty much get where you need to get to by hopping in the car and that’s not easily done in the Pac-12. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott and his conference did a great job in deciding early on to put it at home sites because atmosphere is what makes a championship game too. We’ll have that championship feel on Friday night. And remember, the team that’s hosting has earned that opportunity.”
Johnson on Oregon storylines: “For Oregon, you have a man like Chip Kelly who came from New Hampshire and in four years has done incredible things in leading this program to become one of the top-10 in the country. He has a unique style of play. Everything is fast, uptempo and precise.”
Johnson on calling back-to-back championship college football games: “It’ll be fun. This is an exciting time of year. We’re honored to be the team that broadcasts these two back-to-back championships during their inaugural seasons on FOX Sports. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament for all of those years was wonderful, sometimes calling four games in one day but doing back-to-back college football games is a totally different animal. Especially when you consider that these two conferences are two of the great conferences in the history of college football. There have been times this year and in the past where I’ve done a college football game on a Saturday and an NFL game on a Sunday. That happened to me this year with Iowa St.-Texas. Charles and I did that game and then we got in a car and drove to Kansas City and did Chiefs-Vikings. I think those kinds of experiences give you more traction than doing college basketball.”
Davis on what Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson needs to do to be successful on Saturday: “For Wilson in this game he just needs to continue to be who he is. I would not be surprised if they put a little bit more on him in the throwing game, especially early in this game to start things off.”
Davis previews Wisconsin vs. Michigan State: “It wouldn’t surprise me if both teams come out with some wrinkles. We are going to get some things that we have not seen. We know who they are and these two teams fit perfectly in terms of style to make it a fight. Both teams are very tough on defense, run the football on offense, with big offensive lines, quarterbacks that don’t make mistakes but know how to make winning plays when the game is on the line. The only difference this year is that Michigan State hasn’t run the ball as well as Wisconsin has. That’s the glaring stat that jumps out at you.”
Jones & Davis react to Wisconsin running back Montee Ball’s season and a lack of Heisman recognition:
Jones: “He’s having a fantastic season. Sometimes Big Ten players don’t get as much recognition. I think there is a lot of focus on other conferences. For this championship game he will be able to show a lot of his skills on a national platform which gives him more visibility and at the end of the day, your contention for those awards [Heisman trophy, etc.] rest on people seeing what you’ve done. As he starts to gain interest within the league later down the line, that’s going to be a part of it because they know he’s a capable running back that can score touchdowns.”
Davis: “If you look at the Wisconsin website for most of the season, the Heisman Trophy campaign was for Russell Wilson, not Montee Ball. He’s having a season as good as a running back can have as we have seen in recent years. When you start using the name Barry Sanders in the same sentence with a young man, you know he’s having that kind of season, but I think those back-to-back losses for Wisconsin in the last second, blew him and Russell Wilson off of the Heisman grid because there were so many other candidates and they just got over looked.”
BIG TEN NETWORK PROVIDES EXTENSIVE COVERAGE OF THE BIG TEN FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME BEGINNING FRIDAY – The Big Ten Network’s wall-to-wall coverage of the Big Ten’s inaugural football conference championship (#B1GFCG) begins Friday, as the Michigan State Spartans prepare to take on the Wisconsin Badgers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Coverage kicks off at 4:00 PM ET as Mike Hall hosts live coverage of the press conferences for Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio and Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema as well as key players from both teams. Rick Pizzo and analysts Derek Rackley and Tim Doyle host a new episode of The Pulse at 6:30 PM ET. At 7:00 PM ET, BTN replays the epic Oct. 22 matchup between the two teams when Michigan State upset Wisconsin, 37-31. The win dashed Wisconsin’s national title hopes and propelled Michigan State into the conference championship race. At 9:00 PM ET, Dave Revsine, Hall, Howard Griffith, Gerry DiNardo and Glen Mason host a full 60-minute preview on a special edition of the Big Ten Football Report from Lucas Oil Stadium. They are joined on the set by Bielema and Dantonio.
On Saturday, Revsine, DiNardo, Griffith and Mason are live at Lucas Oil Stadium for the Championship Pregame Show Saturday at 6:30 PM ET. Pizzo will join the BTN team in Indianapolis to provide viewers with arrival interviews and a behind the scenes glimpse at the championship game. Immediately following the championship game on FOX, Revsine, DiNardo, Griffith and Mason will return for complete postgame coverage, analysis and interviews with coaches and players.
DREAM FOUNDATION GETS NATIONAL EXPOSURE THIS WEEKEND ON FOX SPORTS – In what turned out to be an outstanding college football season for the FOX Sports Media Group’s networks – Fox Sports Regional Networks, Fox College Sports, the Big Ten Network, and FX – FSMG has proudly supported the Dream Foundation. The charity reaches an even larger audience this Friday & Saturday night as FOX Sports carries in-game mentions and a special Public Service Announcement featuring actor Jeff Bridges, along with FOX Sports broadcasters Gus Johnson and Charles Davis during exclusive coverage of College Football’s Pac-12 and Big Ten Conference Championship games on FOX Sports. The Dream Foundation is the first wish granting organization for adults whose mission is to enhance the quality of life for families battling life-threatening illness. For more information please visit www.dreamfounation.org
TEBOW/BRONCOS AND RODGERS/PACKERS BOOKEND NFL ON FOX DOUBLEHEADER – On Sunday, Dec. 4 FOX Sports commences Week 13 with doubleheader coverage of six hard-hitting matchups – each presented in true HD. Action kicks-off at 1:00 PM ET as Tim Tebow leads the resurgent Broncos into Minneapolis to face Christian Ponder and the Vikings. NFC and AFC South foes meet as Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and the Falcons travel to Houston to battle Arian Foster and the Texans. FOX closes out the first-half of the doubleheader with Cam Newton and the Panthers in Tampa taking on the Bucs. The second half of the NFL on FOX doubleheader kicks off in a major way as Eli Manning and the Giants look to end their four-game losing streak and the Packers undefeated run. Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Pam Oliver call all of the action from MetLife Stadium. Tony Romo and the NFC East-leading Cowboys travel to the desert to face Beanie Wells and the Cardinals. The NFL on FOX action closes with the NFC west-leading 49ers hosting the Rams.
Coverage begins at 12:00 PM ET with America’s most-watched Sunday afternoon pregame show, FOX NFL SUNDAY. Terry Bradshaw and Curt Menefee co-host the Emmy Award-winning program and are joined by analysts Howie Long, Michael Strahan and Jimmy Johnson. NFL Insider Jay Glazer presents the latest league news and scoops from the FOX NFL SUNDAY studio while comedic prognosticator Frank Caliendo contributes his weekly “Frank’s Picks” segment. FOX Sports rules analyst Mike Pereira is also on hand to go over any impactful officiating issues.
For instant updates during the week and games from the entire NFL on FOX crew, follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/NFLONFOX. Follow the NFL on FOX on-air personalities @Jay_Glazer, @JimmyJohnson, @CurtMenefee, @MikePereira, @MichaelStrahan, @TroyAikman, @KennyAlbert, @CoachBillick, @TimBrewster, @CFD22 (Charles Davis), @DarylJohnston, @The_ChrisMyers, @LauraOkmin, @ChadPennington, @TimRyan99 & @TonySiragusa on Twitter as they provide insight and analysis all weekend. Fans can gain more access to exclusive FOX Sports content by logging on to www.facebook.com/foxsports.
AIKMAN ON RODGERS: “NO ONE HAS PLAYED THE POSITION BETTER”: NFL on FOX lead analyst Troy Aikman heads to New York this weekend to call the Giants’ attempt to end the Packers undefeated streak alongside Joe Buck and Pam Oliver. The Hall of Famer sizes up his impression of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his place among elite quarterbacks in the game: “I’ve seen Aaron a lot during this stretch. We also had him to finish the season last year, the last six games including the Super Bowl. This is our third straight game of the Packers coming up this week. He’s making it look a hell of a lot easier than it is. I think right now it’s as good a time as I have ever seen in the NFL for the quarterback position. Tom Brady has been outstanding for a really long time and we saw what Drew Brees did this week against the Giants but I’d say if you look at 2011, Aaron Rodgers is playing better than all of them. The remarkable thing is he has been playing that well since last year. I think the numbers say no one has played the position better. I’m a big fan of Aaron’s. I said last year if I were starting a team, he’d be the first guy I would want.”
Denver Broncos at Minnesota Vikings
Mall of America Field – Minneapolis, MN
MARKETS INCLUDE: Albuquerque, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Denver, Detroit, Hartford, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Milwaukee, New York, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Providence, Richmond, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tulsa, West Palm Beach
Atlanta Falcons at Houston Texans
Reliant Stadium– Houston, TX
MARKETS INCLUDE: Atlanta, Austin, Birmingham, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, San Antonio
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Bucs Ron Pitts, Jim Mora 5% 1:00PM
Raymond James Stadium – Tampa, FL
MARKETS INCLUDE: Charlotte, Fort Myers, Greensboro, Greenville, Raleigh
Green Bay Packers at New York Giants Joe Buck, Troy Aikman 77% 4:15PM
MetLife Stadium – East Rutherford, NJ
MARKETS INCLUDE: Atlanta, Baltimore, Birmingham, Boston, Buffalo, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Denver, Detroit, Fort Myers, Greensboro, Greenville, Hartford, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Knoxville, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Norfolk, Orlando, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, Providence, Raleigh, Richmond, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Seattle, Tampa, Washington, West Palm Beach
Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals
University of Phoenix Stadium – Glendale, AZ
MARKETS INCLUDE: Albuquerque, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, San Antonio, Tulsa
St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers Chris Myers, Tim Ryan 7% 4:15PM
Candlestick Park – San Francisco, CA
MARKETS INCLUDE: Sacramento, San Francisco, St. Louis
— FOX SPORTS —