Of course Texas would destroy all comers, only to then lose to Florida in the championship game. Why would I even be surprised by that? I think we can now fairly say that Mack Brown definitely underachieved with Simms and the gang. They should have at least been a BCS at-large team in 2001.
No. 6 Texas Longhorns (13-2) VS. No. 5 Florida Gators (12-2)
The Rose Bowl Game presented by AT&T
Rose Bowl - Pasadena, Calif.
Saturday, Jan. 5, 2002 - 8 PM EST
Precipitation: Light Rain
Wind: NE 3 MPH
Final Score: Florida 37, Texas 30
Player of the Game
Florida QB Rex Grossman
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - First, they defeated the undefeated, No. 1-seeded Miami Hurricanes. Then, they stopped the team that looked unstoppable throughout the 2001 FBS Playoff.
Now, Florida players can relax and deservedly call themselves national champions.
The Gators (13-2) beat the seemingly-invincible Texas Longhorns (13-3) 37-30 Saturday night in a thrilling but very nontraditional Rose Bowl game.
As in several previous playoff games, Florida QB Rex Grossman continued to make his case for why he should have won the Heisman, earning AFCA Player of the Game honors while going 28-41 for 337 yards and 4 TDs. Texas QB Chris Simms wasn't nearly as productive, completing 14-22 passes for 169 yards and 2 TDs.
Both starting running backs put on a show, though. Florida's Earnest Graham carried the ball 16 times for 178 yards and Texas' Cedric Benson had 26 carries for 160 yards and a TD. Also, both kickers, Florida's Jeff Chandler and Texas' Dusty Mangum, were 3-3 on FG attempts.
Grossman helped Florida get off to a hot start by slinging TD passes to Jabar Gaffney and Ben Troupe for an early 14-0 lead, which Simms then cut into with a minute left in the 1st quarter when he uncorked a 25-yard TD pass to Roy Williams.
In the 2nd quarter, Chandler and Mangum exchanged FGs, and then Reche Caldwell caught a 6-yard TD pass 33 seconds before halftime to give Florida a 24-10 lead.
Texas would not go down without a fight, though. Even after Chandler kicked two more FGs in the 3rd quarter, the Longhorns answered with a 19-yard Benson TD run and a 42-yard Mangum FG, and the Gators led just 30-20 entering the final period.
Mangum cut it to 23-30 with a 25-yarder with 6:51 left, but Florida finally stopped the bleeding with Grossman's 1-yard TD pass to Carlos Perez with 2:38 remaining. Even then, down 23-37, Texas did not give up.
Simms drove the Longhorns 59 yards in seven plays, capping the gutsy drive with a 2-yard TD pass to Sloan Thomas, but Florida recovered the ensuing onside kick and Grossman lined up in the "victory formation" to take several kneel-downs, secure the win, and allow his team to claim the Sears National Championship Trophy.
Florida coach Steve Spurrier entered this year's playoff with a woeful 1-3 record, but after this spectacular championship run (the second all-time by a No. 5 seed after Kansas State did it in 1999), he now stands at a much more impressive 5-3. More importantly, he collected his second national championship; the other was attained in 1996.
All helmet images are courtesy of The Helmet Project. Check it out - it's pretty cool.
All bowl logos are courtesy of sportslogos.net.
The 2002 FBS Playoff field will be unveiled Sunday at noon.
- SUNDAY: 2002 field announced
- MONDAY: First half of the 1st round games played (higher seed hosts)
- TUESDAY: Second half of the 1st round games played (higher seed hosts)
- WEDNESDAY: 2nd round games played (bowl sites)
- THURSDAY: Final Four (bowl sites)
- FRIDAY: National Championship
- SATURDAY: Stats and analysis