Capital One Bowl: The Sugar and Cotton bowls collectively selected the south side of the bracket, so the Capital One Bowl took the USC-Georgia region because it is guaranteed either a Big Ten representative (Iowa) or an SEC one (Georgia).
Holiday Bowl: The Holiday Bowl was left with the Texas-Utah region, which is pretty nice for having no choice.
Game 1: No. 1 USC Trojans (12-0) VS. No. 16 North Texas Mean Green (7-4)
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum - Los Angeles, Calif.
Thursday, Dec. 9, 2004 - 5 PM PST
Final Score: USC 56, North Texas 28
Player of the Game
North Texas RB Jamario Thomas
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Last year, North Texas flew out to Los Angeles and received a severe beating from USC in the 1st round, 37-9.
That sickeningly familiar feeling returned in force as the Trojans (13-0) put the finishing touches on an even more severe 56-28 defeat of the Mean Green (7-5) to kick off the 2004 FBS Playoff.
USC's two-headed running back combo of LenDale White (24 carries, 176 yards, 1 TD) and Reggie Bush (18 carries, 126 yards, 2 TDs) delivered the pain early and often, but North Texas' Jamario Thomas nearly outperformed both stars by himself, as he rushed for an astonishing 234 yards and 2 TDs on 31 carries.
The difference was in the quarterbacks. While Scott Hall struggled for the Mean Green, completing just 6 of his 20 passes for 94 yards and an INT, Matt Leinart strengthened his Heisman candidacy by completing 19 of his 23 passes for 227 yards and 3 TDs.
USC advances to the Capital One Bowl to play the winner of Georgia-Iowa, while North Texas will proceed to the New Orleans Bowl as the Sun Belt champion.
Game 2: No. 4 Texas Longhorns (10-1) VS. No. 13 LSU Tigers (9-2)
Texas Memorial Stadium - Austin, Texas
Friday, Dec. 10, 2004 - 12 PM CST
Wind: Vrbl 6 MPH
Final Score: Texas 24, LSU 23
Player of the Game
LSU RB Joseph Addai
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - LSU and Texas are developing a nasty little playoff rivalry, and this year's installment was the most thrilling yet.
It all started in 2001, when Texas demolished LSU 72-3 in the 1st round. The Tigers got their revenge last year, though, when they beat the Longhorns 39-10 in the Cotton Bowl to advance to the Final Four.
Round 3 went to Texas (11-1), but just barely, as they survived a nail-biter against LSU (9-3), 24-23.
Joseph Addai, who accumulated multiple player of the game honors last season en route to a national championship appearance for the Tigers, was again superb, rushing 11 times for 169 yards and 2 TDs, but Texas one-upped his performance with its potent backfield - Cedric Benson ran 40 times for 173 yards, while the man handing off to him, Vince Young, kept it for himself 16 times and produced 114 yards and a TD in the process.
That was good for the Longhorns, as Young was just 5 of 11 passing for 34 yards and an INT. LSU's Marcus Randall was no better, though; he was 7 of 16 for 58 yards and a TD.
Texas led LSU 7-6 after the 1st quarter, thanks to a missed Chris Jackson PAT, but Addai rushed for both his TDs in the 2nd quarter to lead the Tigers to a 20-14 halftime advantage.
Neither team scored again until Young scrambled 23 yards for a TD and a 21-20 longhorn lead with one minute left in the 3rd quarter. That was widened about five minutes later with a 39-yard Dusty Mangum FG. LSU got close enough with 4:47 left in the game to get it back within a point on a 40-yard Chris Jackson FG, but Mangum's last kick proved just enough to hold the advantage when the Texas defense held firm on the final LSU drive.
Texas advances to the Holiday Bowl to play the Boise State-Utah winner, while LSU will probably finish its season in the Citrus Bowl.
Game 3: No. 5 Utah Utes (11-0) VS. No. 12 Boise State Broncos (11-0)
Rice-Eccles Stadium - Salt Lake City, Utah
Friday, Dec. 10, 2004 - 2:30 PM MST
Wind: SE 8 MPH
Final Score: Utah 30, Boise State 24
Player of the Game
Utah QB Alex Smith
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Midnight finally tolled for Cinderella; it was just a year later.
Utah (12-0) ejected last year's national champion, Boise State (11-1), in a heated battle of the unbeaten mid-majors, 30-24.
It was the first-ever win by a Mountain West team in the playoffs. The league entered the 2004 playoff with an 0-5 record, tied for worst among all conferences with the Sun Belt and the now-defunct Big West.
After a back-and-forth 1st half, Utah seized control just before halftime with a 17-14 lead and never relinquished that advantage the rest of the game, but Boise State at least kept it interesting for most of the 2nd half. One would expect nothing less of a Dan Hawkins team; he lost just his second playoff game in seven tries.
Boise's Antwaun Carter rushed nine times for 107 yards and a TD, an average of 11.9 yards per carry. It wasn't enough of a performance to offset Alex Smith's, though - the Utah QB was 12 of 17 for 239 yards and 2 TDs in leading his team to the victory.
The Utes advance to the Holiday Bowl to play Texas, while the Broncos are hoping for a Liberty Bowl bid.
Game 4: No. 9 Iowa Hawkeyes (9-2) VS. No. 8 Georgia Bulldogs (9-2)
Sanford Stadium - Athens, Ga.
Friday, Dec. 10, 2004 - 8 PM EST
Final Score: Iowa 32, Georgia 31
Player of the Game
Iowa WR Ed Hinkel
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) - Kirk Ferentz won his first playoff game, as Iowa (10-2) delivered the first upset of the 2004 playoff - albeit a minor one - by coming back to beat Georgia (9-3) on the road, 32-31.
Georgia scored 17 unanswered points before halftime to build a 22-14 lead, and added another TD to that for a 28-14 advantage after three quarters. Things looked bleak for the Hawkeyes, but that's actually when things got interesting.
Iowa outscored the Bulldogs 20-3 in the final period to secure the amazing comeback. The coup de grace had to be the 91-yard catch-and-run TD Iowa WR Ed Hinkel (5 catches, 156 yards, 2 TDs) delivered with 2:06 remaining, giving Iowa its first lead of the game and stunning Georgia fans.
The man who delivered that pass, Drew Tate, was 15 of 29 for 289 yards, 4 TDs and 2 INTs. His Georgia counterpart, David Greene, was 23 of 39 for an amazing 420 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT - but somehow, it wasn't enough for the win.
Georgia TE Leonard Pope caught four passes for 116 yards and kicker Andy Bailey was 4 for 4 on FGs.
Iowa advances to the Capital One Bowl to face No. 1 seed USC, while Georgia will have to wait until tomorrow to find out its bowl destination. It will likely be a minor bowl with SEC ties, not what the Bulldogs were hoping for given that they had home-field advantage for the 1st round.
All helmet images are courtesy of The Helmet Project. Check it out - it's pretty cool.
#15 Pittsburgh @ #2 Oklahoma
Oklahoma Memorial Stadium
#14 Toledo @ #3 Auburn
#11 Louisville @ #6 Cal
California Memorial Stadium
#10 Michigan @ #7 Virginia Tech
BracketCat's Protest Playoff Archives
2004: Selection Sunday