Hawaii is calling

     Random thoughts on the NFL Pro Bowl rosters: Although neither was voted in, can’t you see Carolina’s Cam Newton quarterbacking the NFC squad while Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton leads the AFC when the two sides line up in Honolulu on Jan. 29. Both rookies were voted first alternates at quarterback. …

     The Patriots and 49ers each had eight players chosen. The Packers and Ravens seven apiece. Expect all four teams to go deep into the playoffs, meaning there will be plenty of roster spots to fill due to injuries or, if they’re lucky, Super Bowl commitments. …

     Four teams were shut out of the voting: The Redskins and Rams in the NFC; the Bills and Titans in the AFC. …

     Speaking of snubs, there’s been a lot of support for Lions QB Matthew Stafford and Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. The spots they lost out on belong to the Giants’ Eli Manning and the Chargers’ Antonio Gates.

     I agree that Hernandez, even as Brady’s second option at tight end behind Rob Gronkowski, has been more productive than the often-injured and future Hall of Famer Gates. But I don’t understand the negative vibes tossed Manning’s way. He’s proven that he’s an elite quarterback this season, perhaps his best as a pro. …

     Giants fans can even make the argument that Victor Cruz has become a game-changing receiver this season, and he’s deserving of a roster spot as well. …

     Reputation will take you a long way in Pro Bowl voting. Some of the players who were so honored include the Steelers’ Troy Polamalu and the Colts’ Dwight Freeney. Both are future Hall of Famers who have not played anywhere near their usual standards this year. …


Pizza Bowl

     Recovering two onside kicks in the first half is one sign that the stars were aligned for Purdue during its 37-32 victory over Western Michigan last night in Detroit.

     “We were going to do a third one, but they changed the way they lined up,” coach Danny Hope said. “I’m serious.”

     “There’s a saying in football,” Hope added. “ ‘We’re all here because we’re not all there.’ ”

     The gambles allowed the Boilermakers to jump out to a 27-15 lead at halftime. Raheem Mostert highlighted the scoring with a 99-yard kickoff return, while third-string running back Reggie Pegram added two touchdowns – the first of his collegiate career.

     A Broncos rally fell short when quarterback Alex Carder fumbled with just under two minutes left. Carder was 31 of 57 for 413 yards with three TDs, but his four interceptions and lost fumble were hard to overcome. Jordan White was on the receiving end of 13 of those passes for 249 yards and one score. NFL scouts have taken notice of White.

     Purdue’s Akeem Shavers filled in for the injured Ralph Bolden and rushed for a career-high 148 yards on 22 carries. He was named the game’s MVP.

     Both teams finished the season at 7-6.


Belk Bowl

     Mike Glennon passed for 264 yards and three touchdowns to lead North Carolina State over Louisville, 31-24, in Charlotte, N.C.

     David Amerson, who led the nation with 13 interceptions this season, had two of the Wolfpack’s three picks last night. He returned one 65 yards for a touchdown to put his team ahead by 21 midway through the third quarter and later sealed the victory with an interception on a fourth-and-23 desperation heave with 41 seconds remaining.

     N.C. State finished the season at 8-5 while Louisville fell to 7-6.


     Tony Pauline of SI.com says to keep an eye of these players when Toledo faces Air Force in the Military Bowl and Texas meets California in the Holiday Bowl, tonight’s two college football bowl games.

     Toledo has a trio of players with NFL potential. Eric Page (No. 12) is the best of the bunch, showing big-play ability as a wide receiver and return specialist. Page has third-round talent. Safety Desmond Marrow (No. 3) and offensive lineman Mike VanDerMeulen (No. 74) both could go near the end of the draft.

     Air Force has Jon Davis (No. 6), a safety who also could be selected late in the draft. 


     Texas outside linebacker Keenan Robinson (No. 1) is an athletic defender with potential to start at the next level. Defensive tackle Kheeston Randall (No. 91) can play several positions on the line. Both players have third-round potential.

     For California, defensive lineman Trevor Guyton (No. 92) and wide receiver Marvin Jones (No. 1) are seen as reserves who can contribute on the next level. Both could go in either the fourth or fifth rounds.


     Mike Munchak may be the one who gets to clean up Penn State’s mess.

     The Titans head coach and Green Bay quarterbacks coach Tom Clements are the leading candidates to replace Joe Paterno at Penn State, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

     Tennessee hired Munchak as its head coach in February. It was Munchak’s first head coaching job after 14 seasons of coaching the Titans’ offensive line.

     Munchak, an NFL Hall of Fame offensive lineman for the Houston Oilers, played for Paterno from 1978 to 1981.

     “He’s a Penn State guy,” former Nittany Lions tailback Curt Warner told the newspaper. “I don’t think any of his old teammates would be upset about him getting the job at all. He has my support. I’d love to see him get it.”

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