Today's "Buy a Wilson" article (which you can do right here) comes from the flashback machine.
Donor Casey Zachary: "I want to see an article about the 2008 PapaJohns.com Bowl featuring Seahawks' greats Russell Wilson and Mike Teel."
Not being a historian of the college level, this was not something that I was aware of but as a historian of Russell Wilson, it had me keen like green beans. That being said, I did interview Papa John for Field Gulls back in 2013 just before the Super Bowl, so I'm a little hurt that he didn't mention it to me.
And where the hell is my free bucket of garlic sauce, PJ?
The 2008 PapaJohns.com Bowl, later known as the BBVA Compass Bowl (oy vey), featured 6-6 NC State versus 7-5 Rutgers. And to think, some people say there are way too many bowl games that mean absolutely nothing. How could you say that when we had two average teams fighting for supremacy, as well as two medium, two-topping pizzas and a two-liter bottle of Coke for 22.99?
Wilson, a freshman, helped NC State improve from 5-7 to 6-6, and their first bowl game since 2005. He did this by merely throwing 17 touchdowns against one interception and winning ACC Freshman of the Year. He had thrown 249 straight passes without an interception, the longest streak in the NCAA at that time. He took over for Daniel Evans, who had 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions the year prior.
On Rutgers side, head coach Greg Schiano had turned them around to a team that had gone to one bowl game before 2005 to being a regular in the postseason. Senior Mike Teel threw for 3,418 yards, 25 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, but the real star was wide receiver Kenny Britt, who had 1,446 yards and eight touchdowns.
Defensively, they featured future NFL secondary stars Devin and Jason McCourty. This was a really talented team that Wilson was about to face. They had won their last six games of the season in order to rebound from a 1-5 start and make the coveted PapaJohns.com Bowl later known as the BBVA Compass Bowl later known as the Birmingham Bowl.
Highlights from the game are not too easy to find on YouTube. Which is odd, because it's the 2008 PapaJohns.com Bowl. But here is basically what happened, from what I gather.
NC State fumbled on the opening drive and it was recovered by Rutgers. They drove down and got to the six-yard line where they were forced to attempt a field goal, but they faked it instead and got the touchdown. Ironically, the extra point attempt was blocked, making it 6-0 Rutgers.
That's when Wilson did what he had been doing all season.
Wilson hit sophomore receiver Owen Spencer, who had averaged 22.3 yards per catch that season (and would lead the NCAA the next year at 25.5 YPC), on a 44-yard touchdown. They added a field goal and then a five-yard touchdown run from senior Andre Brown, who you may know as the guy that got you some fantasy points in 2012 with the Giants.
At that point, NC State led 17-6 and everything was pointing towards a victory for Wilson and the Wolfpack. (The name of my Bangles all-male cover band.) Except then, something happened to Wilson that none of us are accustomed to and hope to never be:
He got hurt.
Wilson tore his PCL late in the second quarter and did not return. NC State would be forced to turn back to Evans, a quarterback who I might describe as "Not Good," and fifth-year senior Harrison Beck, who I might call "Much, much worse."
In his whole college career with Nebraska and NC State, Beck threw four touchdowns and 17 interceptions and he managed to do it on only 250 attempts. Remember: Wilson had thrown almost 250 passes in a row without an interception at that point.
In the PapaJohns.com Bowl, Beck was 0-for-4 with an interception. Evans was slightly better: 5-of-12 with one touchdown and two interceptions.
It's no surprise that NC State went scoreless in the third while Rutgers came back with 10 points to make it 17-16. Early in the fourth quarter, a field goal gave them the lead at 19-17. Evans managed to quickly strike back with a throw to Anthony Hill to take a 23-19 lead, but two plays later Teel found Britt for a 42-yard touchdown.
Rutgers ended up winning 29-23. Wilson threw one interception for the season, and his backups combined to throw three in one half.
Teel threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns.
Months later, Teel was drafted in the sixth round by the Seahawks as a potential flier replacement for Matt Hasselbeck, or at least a potential flier backup. Uh, there wasn't a whole lot of "plan" for finding a franchise quarterback, nor has there ever really been one in Seattle since the mid-90s. For all we know, Teel had as good of a shot as Hasselbeck, Jon Kitna, Trent Dilfer, or Wilson.
Except that he was just Mike Teel.
He was third string for all of 2009 and when Pete Carroll came to Seattle in 2010, Teel was waived in favor of J.P. Losman. After short stints with the Patriots and Bears, Teel began his career in coaching, including a return to Rutgers in 2014. According to Wikipeidia, he is the offensive coordinator for the Don Bosco Prep Ironmen football team.
Schiano went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, of course. He was ridiculed and humiliated on the way out by many fans and players, including the ones in Tampa Bay. Britt is rehabbing his career in St. Louis. The McCourty's seem to be doing just fine.
As for Wilson, well, nobody really knows what happened to him. They say that if you go into any one of Papa John's 4,316 locations, and put your ear up to the breadsticks, you can faintly hear him getting the last laugh.