Darn. I was kind of hoping for the 1999 title game to be transported into the 2000 playoff, but I guess it wasn't meant to be. Darn those throwback helmets...
Miami will be back next year with a vengeance, I suspect. Florida State better make good on this, since Weinke and a host of other key players are graduating. Nebraska should be an easier opponent than Oklahoma proved to be in real life, especially given their Rose Bowl "performance" in 2001, but you never know.
Tune in tomorrow: It's Crouch vs. Weinke, the battle of Extremely Overrated Heisman QBs! Don't miss it!
Game 1: No. 5 Virginia Tech Hokies (12-1) VS. No. 8 Nebraska Cornhuskers (11-2)
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Sun Devil Stadium - Tempe, Ariz.
Saturday, Dec. 30, 2000 - 2:30 PM MST
Wind: SSW 3 MPH
Final Score: Nebraska 28, Virginia Tech 14
Player of the Game
Nebraska RB Dan Alexander
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - Virginia Tech had hoped to join Florida State in the Orange Bowl, earning a share of redemption for past failure much as the Seminoles did today.
Instead, the Hokies fell to a Big 12 team in the Final Four, just like last season.
Nebraska (12-2) defeated Virginia Tech (12-2) in a defensive battle in the desert, winning the Fiesta Bowl 28-14 behind the strong legs of Player of the Game Dan Alexander (26 carries, 98 yards, 2 TDs) and the equally strong arm of QB Eric Crouch (7-10, 176 yards, 1 INT).
Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer elected to keep his team's equipment on the West Coast after the Holiday Bowl, rather than sending the truck and the managers all the way back to Virginia to fetch the team's regular uniforms. Given that Nebraska now has a 2-game winning streak against favored opponents wearing throwback jerseys and helmets, he may regret that decision.
Still, the poor play of QB Michael Vick is probably more to blame for the loss than the Hokies' choice of attire. Vick was 8-15 for a pitiful 27 yards and 1 TD, while only rushing 11 times for 39 yards. RB Lee Suggs was the only player who really performed to his standard, rushing 24 times for 131 yards, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Nebraska Blackshirt defense.
The Nebraska backfield barely out-rushed Virginia Tech's, 265-230, but it was the Huskers' offensive balance that won them a chance to play for a national championship, their first opportunity since 1997. Reserve RB Willie Miller started it with his 2-yard TD run in the 1st quarter to open a 7-0 Nebraska lead, which Alexander extended with his 9-yard TD run early in the 2nd quarter.
Vick's only truly good pass in the entire game, a 9-yard TD to Andre Davis, made it 14-7 Nebraska 2:34 before halftime, but Nebraska RB Correll Buckhalter rumbled in for a TD from two yards out with 0:53 left in the half to widen the lead back to 21-7.
Alexander added a 21-yard TD run in the 3rd quarter to make it 28-7, and that was pretty much the ballgame. Jarrett Ferguson did add a 2-yard TD run in the 4th quarter to cut the deficit to 28-14, but the stalwart Husker defense, the clock, and Vick's poor throwing all conspired to make a Hokie comeback attempt impossible to get off the ground.
It was a signature victory for Nebraska coach Frank Solich, who had taken some heat from fans coming into the season but has rattled off three straight postseason wins this month, beaten the Big 12 Champion, and won the Fiesta Bowl, the traditional bowl home of the Big 12 title winner. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech fans wonder what lies ahead for their team, as Vick is expected to leave early for the NFL draft in April.
Game 2: No. 2 Florida State Seminoles (13-1) VS. No. 3 Miami Hurricanes (12-1)
The Rose Bowl Game presented by AT&T
Rose Bowl - Pasadena, Calif.
Saturday, Dec. 30, 2000 - 5 PM PST
Wind: WSW 5 MPH
Final Score: Florida State 37, Miami 14
Player of the Game
Florida State QB Chris Weinke
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - After being upset in the Final Four by lower-seeded teams in the first two seasons of the FBS Playoff, Heisman winner Chris Weinke and the Florida State Seminoles resolved to not let it happen a third time.
Florida State (14-1) will play Nebraska in its first national championship game since 1993, after avenging an Oct. 7 24-27 loss to Miami (12-2) with a dominant 37-14 victory in the Rose Bowl.
The Seminoles out-gained the Hurricanes in rushing yardage 292-114 and in passing yardage 222-99, while their powerful defensive front sacked Miami QB Ken Dorsey (13-32, 99 yards) an astonishing 10 times for a total loss of 65 yards.
Florida State backs Travis Minor (22 carries, 134 yards) and Jeff Chaney (11 carries, 126 yards) were virtually unstoppable, but Weinke (15-28, 222 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) was the true star, and that was recognized after the contest when he was awarded Player of the Game honors.
Seminole wideouts Marvin Minnis (5 catches, 68 yards, 2 TDs) and Ryan Sprague (3 catches, 45 yards) were also outstanding, while Miami RB James Jackson (19 carries, 106 yards, 2 TDs) accounted for all the Hurricanes' scoring in a losing effort.
David Warren, Tommy Polley, and Chris Hope each had two sacks for Florida State, while Jerel Hudson led the team with three.
Miami had an early lead after Jackson's 34-yard TD run shortly after kickoff put them up 7-0, but it did not last long. First, Florida State K Brett Cimorelli (3-5 FG) hit from 28 yards out to make it 7-3, and then the Seminoles blitzed Miami in the 2nd quarter.
Scores from Minnis (14-yard TD catch), Nick Franklin (38-yard TD catch), Minnis again (21-yard TD catch 54 seconds before halftime), and Chaney (62-yard punt return TD 11 seconds before halftime) put Florida State ahead 31-7 at the break, and left Hurricane players stunned and fans dejected.
Despite Jackson's 4-yard TD run with 3:02 left in the 3rd quarter, there would be no comeback on this day. Cimorelli had kicks of 28 and 38 yards in the last two minutes of the game to secure the win, but the game was decided long before when the Florida State defense stepped up in the 2nd half, pummeling Dorsey over and over again while disrupting seemingly every pass that he did get off.
After the game, Miami coach Butch Davis apologized to the team's fans, saying, "Florida State is an excellent, senior-laden team, and it's my opinion that they will take home the national championship in a week, but there is no excuse for how poorly we played on defense in the 2nd quarter or how poorly we played on offense in the 2nd half. I'm responsible and I will get that corrected next season."
All helmet images are courtesy of The Helmet Project. Check it out - it's pretty cool.
All bowl logos are courtesy of sportslogos.net.
FBS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
FedEx Orange Bowl
#2 Florida State vs. #8 Nebraska
Pro Player Stadium
Miami Gardens, Fla.