Cotton Bowl: After the Miami-USC region was selected by the Orange Bowl, the Cotton Bowl zeroed in on Texas' region in order to get a local host, and either a traditional matchup with Auburn or a blockbuster one with Notre Dame.
Holiday Bowl: The Holiday Bowl was left with a Pac-10 team in Oregon (potentially) and Penn State, most likely.
Well, I was starting to worry that we might finally have straight chalk across the board for the first time in seven tries - which would be boring, of course - but then TCU pulled through, doing what TCU always does. Gotta love those No. 11 seeds...
Game 1: No. 2 Texas Longhorns (12-0) VS. No. 15 Akron Zips (7-5)
Texas Memorial Stadium - Austin, Texas
Saturday, Dec. 17, 2005 - 10 AM CST
Final Score: Texas 34, Akron 3
Player of the Game
Texas QB Vince Young
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - No No. 2 seed has ever lost in the 1st round, and after posting an undefeated season to this point, Texas was determined not to become the first.
Vince Young ran wild, completing 7 of his 10 passes for 155 yards and rushing 10 times for 84 yards and a TD, as the Longhorns (13-0) stampeded the hapless Akron Zips (7-6), 34-3.
Luke Getsy's numbers weren't nearly as pretty. The Akron QB went 13 of 35 for just 101 yards and was sacked four times, yet he was by far the Zips' most effective offensive weapon. It was just that kind of a day.
Vince Young, Selvin Young, Ramonce Taylor and Jamaal Charles each rushed for a TD in the first 37 minutes to give Texas a 28-3 lead that sealed the game shortly after halftime. Now Texas will take that potent backfield into the 2nd round, where the Longhorns will face either Auburn or Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl in nearby Dallas.
Akron, meanwhile, has accepted a bid to the Motor City Bowl, the traditional landing spot for the MAC champion. The Zips probably hope their next opponent doesn't wear orange after the beating they endured today.
Game 2: No. 3 Penn State Nittany Lions (10-1) VS. No. 14 Boise State Broncos (9-3)
Beaver Stadium - State College, Pa.
Saturday, Dec. 17, 2005 - 1 PM EST
Wind: E 3 MPH
Final Score: Penn State 45, Boise State 7
Player of the Game
Penn State RB Tony Hunt
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - Dan Hawkins said before the game that he liked the matchup Penn State presented for his Boise State team.
He was probably thinking otherwise at halftime when the score was Tony Hunt 21, Boise State 0.
Hunt had 23 carries for 217 yards and 50-, 3- and 7-yard rushing TDs - all in the 1st half - as he helped the Nittany Lions (11-1) put the Broncos (9-4) away, 45-7.
Austin Scott assisted Hunt in wearing down the Boise defense with his 13 carries for 102 yards and a TD. The tandem provided most of the highlights today, given the struggles of the QBs for Boise State - Jared Zabransky was 10 of 21 for 93 yards - and Penn State - Michael Robinson was 5 of 12 for 64 yards.
Adding insult to injury, Bronco kicker Anthony Montgomery missed all four FG attempts, although they would have only made the score a little less lopsided, rather than determined the outcome of the game.
Penn State advances to the Holiday Bowl to play the winner of the Oregon-TCU game later this evening, while Boise State will probably get to finish its season at home in the MPC Computers Bowl.
Game 3: No. 6 Oregon Ducks (10-1) VS. No. 11 TCU Horned Frogs (10-1)
Autzen Stadium - Eugene, Ore.
Saturday, Dec. 17, 2005 - 1:30 PM PST
Wind: W 7 MPH
Final Score: TCU 44, Oregon 13
Player of the Game
TCU QB Jeff Ballard
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - This is precisely why the Mountain West Conference invited TCU in.
In their first year in the league, the Horned Frogs have claimed the regular-season championship, received an automatic playoff bid and delivered only the second-ever win by a Mountain West team in the playoffs (after Utah become the first in last year's 1st round).
No. 11 seed TCU (11-1) knocked off No. 6 seed Oregon (10-2) on the road, 44-13, to advance to the Elite Eight for the third time in school history, but before you begin to think this was an upset, consider the following statistics:
Oregon has never won a playoff game (Mike Bellotti is 0-3 as the Ducks' coach), while TCU has never failed to win its 1st round game, despite playing in hostile places like Knoxville, Seattle and Eugene.
More telling is the fact that No. 11 seeds are now 4-4 in the 1st round, and have won 1st round games in the last three playoffs, while 6 seeds have fallen to 4-4 in the 1st round, and 8-8 in overall playoff action. In other words, 11 seeds have just as good a chance to advance as 6 seeds, and home-field advantage doesn't seem to be bothering the Boise States, Louisvilles and TCUs of the world overly much.
As for this particular matchup, the briefest way to recap it would be to say that Oregon lost because it was one-dimensional, while TCU won because it was not. The Horned Frog defense held the Ducks to an impressive -5 rushing yards for the game, but Oregon QB Kellen Clemens did light them up to the tune of 350 yards on 27-of-39 passing (although TCU gave up no passing TDs and forced an INT).
Meanwhile, TCU QB Jeff Ballard completed 12 of his 18 passes for 152 yards and 3 TDs, Aaron Brown rushed 17 times for 128 yards and a TD, Robert Merrill rushed 22 times for 114 yards and a TD, Chris Manfredini was 3 for 3 on FGs and the TCU defense collected seven sacks. That, in a nutshell, is why this was not an upset.
Indeed, it was complete domination, as TCU jumped ahead 13-0 early, led 20-3 at halftime and never let Oregon get closer than 30-13. The game's outcome was never really in question, and dissatisfied Oregon fans realized it early and made sure their team knew how unhappy they were with its performance.
TCU will advance to the Holiday Bowl to face Penn State, while Oregon will wait sullenly to learn its minor bowl destination.
Game 4: No. 7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-2) VS. No. 10 Auburn Tigers (9-2)
Notre Dame Stadium - Notre Dame, Ind.
Saturday, Dec. 17, 2005 - 8 PM EST
Wind: E 7 MPH
Final Score: Notre Dame 36, Auburn 10
Player of the Game
Notre Dame RB Darius Walker
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (AP) - It may have taken seven years and several coaching changes, but college football's most storied program finally won a playoff game.
Notre Dame (10-2) beat Auburn (9-3) 36-10 Saturday night to become the first independent to advance to the Elite Eight.
Darius Walker starred for the Fighting Irish, carrying the ball 32 times for 187 yards and 2 TDs and putting them ahead 6-0 less than five minutes into the game. Brady Quinn complemented him well, completing 16 of his 22 passes for 227 yards, 3 TDs and an INT.
Auburn's backfield wasn't nearly as effective, although that was to be expected after the Tigers lost both running backs and their quarterback off last year's Elite Eight team. Neither Kenny Irons or Tre Smith exceeded 100 yards on the ground, while Brandon Cox struggled mightily, completing just 10 of his 24 passes for 152 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs, and was sacked four times.
The Irish jumped ahead 13-3 in the 1st quarter, led 26-10 at halftime (and it would have been 26-3 if not for a freak 57-yard TD pass from Cox to Devin Aromashodu) and shut out the Tigers in the 2nd half. About the only sour spot was the kicking of D.J. Fitzpatrick, who went 1 for 2 on FGs and missed two PAT attempts.
Other than that, things went pretty well for Notre Dame, who will advance to the Cotton Bowl to play Texas in a matchup of two of the winningest football programs of all time, while Auburn will have to be content with a bowl trip to a place like Shreveport.
All helmet images are courtesy of The Helmet Project. Check it out - it's pretty cool.
Capital One Bowl
#4 Ohio State vs. #5 Georgia
Florida Citrus Bowl
SBC Communications Cotton Bowl Classic
#2 Texas vs. #7 Notre Dame
Pacific Life Holiday Bowl
#3 Penn State vs. #11 TCU
San Diego, Calif.
FedEx Orange Bowl
#1 USC vs. #8 Miami
Miami Gardens, Fla.