Fiesta Bowl: The Fiesta Bowl took the south side of the bracket in order to try and get the only Big 12 team in the entire field - Texas.
Sugar Bowl: That left the Sugar Bowl with some mixture of Georgia, Miami, Ohio State or USC. Nice.
All Top 4 seeds finally advance to the Final Four for the first time in playoff history. How boring. :P
Game 1: No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2) VS. No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs (11-2)
Capital One Bowl
Florida Citrus Bowl - Orlando, Fla.
Saturday, Dec. 24, 2005 - 11 AM EST
Wind: W 15 MPH
Final Score: Ohio State 16, Georgia 14
Player of the Game
Georgia WR Bryan McClendon
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - It was a tale of two halves.
Ohio State (11-2) may have defeated Georgia (11-3) in a defensive battle, 16-14, to win the Capital One Bowl, but for most of the 2nd half, it didn't look like they wanted the victory very badly.
Which is strange, because the Buckeyes outscored the Bulldogs 16-0 in the 1st half. Josh Huston was 3 of 4 on FGs for nine of those points, while Troy Smith (5-10, 54 yards, 1 TD) and Santonio Holmes hooked up to account for the other seven and make Holmes' only catch of the game an important one.
After the break, the Buckeye defense faltered at two critical points and their offense disappeared, allowing the Bulldogs to close 14 points of that gap. Bryan McClendon, who caught a huge TD just before halftime last week, came through again, as D.J. Shockley (9-18, 150 yards, 2 TDs) found him from five yards out with 4:19 left in the 3rd quarter to cut the deficit to 16-7, and then again from two yards out with 2:13 left in the game to make it 16-14.
Ohio State's defense held on all the other Georgia drives, including netting three sacks, and that left it up to the Buckeye offense to close out the game, which they did when Antonio Pittman (28 carries, 118 yards) picked up a couple of huge runs to convert 3rd downs, run out the clock and secure the victory.
So, Ohio State becomes only the second Big Ten team to make it to the Final Four, a feat they also accomplished in 1998, meaning it has been six long years for their conference in the interim.
Game 2: No. 2 Texas Longhorns (13-0) VS. No. 7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-2)
SBC Communications Cotton Bowl Classic
Cotton Bowl - Dallas, Texas
Saturday, Dec. 24, 2005 - 12 PM CST
Wind: SE 8 MPH
Final Score: Texas 21, Notre Dame 14
Player of the Game
Texas RB Jamaal Charles
DALLAS (AP) - Notre Dame had tradition on their side.
Texas had Jamaal Charles.
Charles, showing no respect for that tradition, rushed 14 times for 126 yards and scored two TD runs in the 1st quarter - a 32-yarder just 5:45 into the game and a 9-yarder with 5:39 left in the opening period - to put the Longhorns (14-0) ahead early, 14-0, en route to a 21-14 victory over the Fighting Irish (10-3) and their second consecutive Final Four appearance, and third overall.
Despite that opening uppercut, Notre Dame fought back with a 21-yard TD pass from Brady Quinn (16-25, 195 yards, 2 TDs) to Jeff Samardzija early in the 2nd quarter to cut the Texas lead to seven, but Ramonce Taylor stretched it back to 14 with a 3-yard TD run 1:57 before halftime.
Both defenses held the opposing side scoreless for most of the 2nd half. Notre Dame was unable to capitalize on several long runs by Darius Walker (23 carries, 129 yards), mostly because the Texas defense sacked Quinn four times after halftime, but the Irish finally broke through with 12:57 remaining in the game, when Quinn found John Carlson open from 14 yards out to make it 21-14.
The Longhorns protected their slim lead, though, forcing two punts and a 4th-down stop to finish off the game and deny the Irish the upset. Perhaps the most relieved player on the Texas team afterward was David Pino, who was 0 of 3 on FGs in the game, any which could have proved crucial misses had Notre Dame scored one last time.
Game 3: No. 3 Penn State Nittany Lions (11-1) VS. No. 11 TCU Horned Frogs (11-1)
Pacific Life Holiday Bowl
Qualcomm Stadium - San Diego, Calif.
Saturday, Dec. 24, 2005 - 1:30 PM PST
Wind: W 14 MPH
Final Score: Penn State 16, TCU 3
Player of the Game
TCU RB Robert Merrill
SAN DIEGO (AP) - TCU was hoping this would be the year where they finally became more than just that program who pulled off a 1st round upset, only to fade away the next week.
Unfortunately for the Horned Frogs, they ran afoul of the winningest coach in college football history, who has apparently decided that he enjoys this whole playoff thing.
Joe Paterno led Penn State (12-1) to a 16-3 Holiday Bowl victory over TCU (11-2) to advance to the Final Four on his first try. Also, the Nittany Lions will join Big Ten cohort Ohio State in the Final Four, giving the conference four wins in this playoff (the most in a single postseason for the Big Ten) and two of its three total Final Four appearances.
The outcome of this game was slightly surprising in that no single Penn State player accounted for more than 100 yards, although Tony Hunt did score the game's only TD with 2:21 left in the 1st quarter.
Instead, it was TCU players who lit up the stat boards - Robert Merrill rushed 19 times for 110 yards and Jeff Ballard completed 14 of his 23 passes for 136 yards and an INT. The problem for the Horned Frogs is that stat board success does not equal scoreboard success, and their only production in that regard came in the 3rd quarter when Chris Manfredini kicked a 45-yard FG for TCU's only points of the game.
Meanwhile, Kevin Kelly was 3 of 4 on FGs for the Nittany Lions, which provided enough of a cushion for their defense to protect. So, TCU will go home empty-handed after the second week yet again, while Penn State will face Texas in the Fiesta Bowl and attempt to perhaps meet its Big Ten rival in the championship game if they can survive the Longhorns.
Game 4: No. 1 USC Trojans (13-0) VS. No. 8 Miami Hurricanes (10-2)
FedEx Orange Bowl
Dolphins Stadium - Miami Gardens, Fla.
Saturday, Dec. 24, 2005 - 8 PM EST
Wind: S 8 MPH
Final Score: USC 41, Miami 38
Player of the Game
USC RB Reggie Bush
MIAMI (AP) - Perhaps no defending champion has had to face a hurdle quite like USC faced tonight: Playing a hungry team with its own championship history on what amounted to a home field.
USC (14-0) survived that test and kept its hopes for a repeat alive, but only just barely, defeating Miami (10-3) by a score of 41-38 in the Orange Bowl Saturday night.
Heisman winner Reggie Bush was spectacular, rushing 22 times for 185 yards and 4 TDs, including two (plus a 2-point conversion) in the final four minutes, when USC was trailing 27-38 and things looked bleak. Instead, Bush almost single-handedly won the game and took the wind out of Miami's sails with TD runs of 24 and 5 yards.
Matt Leinart was 31 of 44 for 263 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT for the Trojans, while Kyle Wright was 17 of 33 for 265 yards and 2 TDs. Tyrone Moss rushed 20 times for 155 yards and a TD to lead the Hurricanes to the near-upset.
Moss kicked things off early with a 17-yard TD run, which Bush answered a minute later with a 54-yard TD run. Less than a minute after that, Charlie Jones put Miami back ahead, 14-7.
Wright then tossed a 16-yard TD pass to Sinorice Moss five minutes into the 2nd quarter, and the crowd started going wild, but USC silenced them slightly with a 4-yard TD pass from Leinart to Dwayne Jarrett and a 38-yard Mario Danelo FG, all in the last three minutes of the 1st half, cutting the halftime deficit to 21-17.
After Jon Peattie kicked a 39-yard FG to open the 3rd quarter, Bush tied the game for the first time in almost 30 minutes with a 45-yard TD run five minutes after halftime. Danelo then kicked a 37-yarder near the end of the 3rd period to give USC its first lead of the game, 27-24.
It proved to be short-lived, though, as Wright lobbed a 3-yard TD pass to Ryan Moore just five seconds into the 4th quarter to make it 31-27 Miami, and then Jones rushed in from 22 yards out to widen it to 38-27 with 9:23 left in the game. Hurricane fans could smell the upset, but that's when Bush turned up the star power and dazzled them with his prowess.
USC, which will be appearing in its second straight Final Four and its third in the last four years, will now face Ohio State in a Rose Bowl-type matchup that has been transplanted to the Sugar Bowl - although the Rose Bowl may yet get its traditional pairing if the Trojans win next week and Penn State can somehow upset Texas.
All helmet images are courtesy of The Helmet Project. Check it out - it's pretty cool.
All bowl logos are courtesy of sportslogos.net.
Nokia Sugar Bowl
#1 USC vs. #4 Ohio State
New Orleans, La.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
#2 Texas vs. #3 Penn State
Sun Devil Stadium
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