Holy hootenanny, now that's what I call an upset! Guess the old man still has it after all. Poor Mack - just can't ever seem to win the big game... (except, you know, in real life in 2005...) Is a USC two-peat in the cards? Tune in tomorrow at noon to find out!
Game 1: No. 1 USC Trojans (14-0) VS. No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-2)
Nokia Sugar Bowl
Louisiana Superdome - New Orleans, La.
Saturday, Dec. 31, 2005 - 4:30 PM EST
Precipitation: none (dome)
Temperature: 70 (dome)
Wind: none (dome)
Final Score: USC 48, Ohio State 38
Player of the Game
USC RB Reggie Bush
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Some games are so phenomenal they make you want to just stand up and applaud. This was one such game.
Pete Carroll won his 10th playoff game and USC (15-0) advanced to its second consecutive national championship game appearance with a thrilling 48-38 win over Ohio State (11-3) in the Sugar Bowl.
Maurice Wells (12 carries, 125 yards, 1 TD) kicked things off with a 11-yard TD run that gave the Buckeyes an early 7-0 lead, but Matt Leinart (19-25, 323 yards, 4 TDs) soon tied the game with a 2-yard TD pass to Dominique Byrd.
An explosive 2nd quarter began with a 21-yard TD run by Reggie Bush (21 carries, 207 yards, 2 TDs) to give the Trojans their first lead, followed by a 21-yard TD pass from Troy Smith (9-10, 224 yards, 2 TDs) to Ted Ginn to tie it at 14, followed by a 50-yard TD pass from Leinart to Dwayne Jarrett (5 catches, 123 yards, 2 TDs), followed by a 7-yard TD run by Antonio Pittman (27 carries, 138 yards, 1 TD) to tie it yet again at 21 with 1:33 remaining in the 2nd quarter, followed by a 52-yard Mario Danelo FG splitting the uprights as time expired in the 1st half with the Trojans leading narrowly, 24-21.
The 3rd quarter was no less dynamic, beginning with a 51-yard TD pass from Leinart to Patrick Turner to widen the USC lead to 31-21 and ending with Bush's exhilarating 59-yard TD run to put the Trojans ahead 38-24 as the period drew to a close.
But the Buckeyes still had a few bullets left in their gun. First, Smith ran in from 12 yards out to cut the deficit to 31-38, and then, after Jarrett caught another TD pass to stretch the USC lead back to 48-31 with 2:06 remaining in the game, Smith connected with Ryan Hamby on what turned out to be a jaw-dropping 71-yard TD pass with 1:48 left to get Ohio State back within 10.
USC was able to recover the ensuing onside kick, however, to ensure victory and put an end to any more Buckeye theatrics.
Other notable performers include Santonio Holmes, who caught four passes for 102 yards for the Buckeyes, and the Ohio State defense, which posted four sacks of Leinart.
Game 2: No. 2 Texas Longhorns (14-0) VS. No. 3 Penn State Nittany Lions (12-1)
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Sun Devil Stadium - Tempe, Ariz.
Saturday, Dec. 31, 2005 - 6 PM MST
Wind: WSW 6 MPH
Final Score: Penn State 34, Texas 7
Player of the Game
Penn State RB Tony Hunt
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - It looks like the Rose Bowl will get its traditional Big Ten/Pac-10 matchup after all.
Penn State (13-1) will advance to play USC for a national championship after the Nittany Lions stunned Texas (14-1) - and the college football world - with a 34-7 upset in the Fiesta Bowl Saturday night.
This will be only the second time in playoff history a Big 12 team has not played for the championship, but it is also the second in the last three years (2003 was the other).
Texas looked nigh unstoppable in almost every game it played this season, but the Longhorns looked far from unstoppable tonight. Perhaps their narrow 25-22 victory in Columbus against Ohio State earlier this season should have given some warning that they might struggle against another Big Ten team, but nothing could have prepared experts for the beatdown the Nittany Lions administered in this game.
Penn State out-gained Texas in 1st downs (29-11), out-rushed the Longhorns 366-217 and held them to a measly 48 passing yards. Ramonce Taylor did score with 7:26 remaining in the 1st quarter to give Texas an early - and fleeting - 7-0 lead, and Jamaal Charles rushed 11 times for 152 yards, but that was about it for Texas bright spots tonight.
Trailing 3-7 entering the 2nd quarter, Penn State administered the pain in short order. Austin Scott (13 carries, 78 yards, 1 TD) and Tony Hunt (23 carries, 174 yards, 2 TDs, 2 catches, 46 yards) both rushed for TDs and Michael Robinson (6-9, 104 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) connected with Deon Butler from 11 yards out to put Penn State ahead for good at halftime, 24-7.
After that, the 2nd half was like a slow death by strangulation for Texas, as Penn State stuffed drive after drive and refused to surrender an inch to the Texas offense in an ultimately successful effort to not allow the Longhorns back into the game. As a result, Penn State will become the first (and only) Big Ten team to play for a title since Ohio State lost to Kansas State in the first playoff championship game in 1998.
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
The Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi
#1 USC vs. #3 Penn State