WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS,
AND WE'LL KEEP ON FIGHTING
'TIL THE END!
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!
NO TIME FOR LOSERS,
'CAUSE WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS...
I have to admit, this exercise raises my opinion of the 1999 team. The comebacks at Iowa State and Oklahoma State and the struggle to find a consistent running threat to replace Eric Hickson belie one thing - that team was really, really good. They went 11-1 (only losing to #3 Nebraska in Lincoln), tied for the North Championship, and had an extremely good defense. I would argue that the 2000 team was slightly less good, not because they lost to Oklahoma twice, but because they lost to Texas A&M, who really wasn't that great.
The 1999 team would have beat A&M, I think. The difference is all on defense and it started with seniors Darren Howard and Mark Simoneau, possibly the two best players at their respective positions in K-State history (with apologies to Gary Spani). However, the 2000 team was probably a more polished offensive team. Scobey emerged as the main back, Beasley got better and didn't have to be pulled for Adam Helm anymore, and Quincy obviously took it to a whole new level.
Who knows? Bill Snyder, 8-0 in the playoff, the Coach of the Century, is moving into the new millennium. Look out, NCAA - maybe they'll make it a three-peat...
No. 6 Kansas State Wildcats (13-1) VS. No. 13 Michigan State Spartans (12-2)
Nokia Sugar Bowl
Louisiana Superdome - New Orleans, La.
Saturday, Jan. 1, 2000 - 8 PM EST
Precipitation: None (dome)
Temperature: 75 (dome)
Wind: None (dome)
Final Score: Kansas State 23, Michigan State 13
Player of the Game
Michigan State LB Robaire Smith
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The first day of the first year of the new millennium brought a familiar sight: Bill Snyder and his Kansas State Wildcats claiming the Sears National Championship Trophy.
Kansas State (14-1) defeated Michigan State (12-3) 23-13 in the Sugar Bowl, a game that was reminiscent of last year's Fiesta Bowl, at least on the scoreboard.
Snyder has now won eight consecutive playoff games, and has yet to lose since the FBS Playoff system was implemented, while Michigan State coach Nick Saban (soon to be LSU coach Nick Saban) finally lost his first playoff game after an improbable run that saw the 13th-seeded Spartans defeat three higher-seeded opponents in hostile environments to get to the Sugar Bowl. On their biggest stage yet, though, they seemed to run out of gas.
K-State jumped ahead 23-3 at halftime and it looked like they would run away with it early, but Michigan State came out in and outscored K-State 10-0 in the 2nd half to at least make the Wildcats work for it. They simply could not muster enough big plays to dig out of the hole they had made for themselves, however, in spite of out-rushing the Wildcats 229-53.
Jamie Rheem put K-State on the board first with a 34-yard FG near the end of the 1st quarter, and Joe Hall (18 carries, 42 yards) made it 10-0 after his 4-yard TD run two minutes later. Then Paul Edinger kicked a 27-yard FG, Michigan State's only points of the first 30 minutes.
K-State put it out of reach in the last two minutes of the 1st half. First, Frank Murphy (14 carries, 35 yards) capped a 12-play, 63-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run to build the lead to 14. On the next drive, Michigan State QB Bill Burke threw an incomplete pass and then was intercepted by James Dunnigan. That set up a Martez Wesley 9-yard TD catch from Jonathan Beasley to make it 23-3 (Rheem missed the PAT).
Although Lloyd Clemons (22 carries, 128 yards) scored a 1-yard TD in the 3rd quarter and Edinger made a 32-yard FG in the fourth, most of the 2nd half's highlights were defensive in nature. Michigan State's Robaire Smith earned AFCA Player of the Game honors by sacking Beasley once and intercepting him twice, while Ivory McCoy and Aric Morris each added a sack for the Spartans. On the other side, Dunnigan and Lamar Chapman each had an INT and Darren Howard had a sack.
Both quarterbacks were up and down in the game. Burke was 10-29 for 60 yards and 2 INTs, while Beasley was a little better, completing 18-27 passes for 252 yards (and the bulk of K-State's offense), 1 TD, and 2 INTs. Beasley completed passes to nine different receivers, though, including Quincy Morgan, who had four catches for 65 yards.
What does this mean for college football? Well, on a day when the world braced for computer systems to fail due to Y2K (for the most part, they did not), it is clear that there are no glitches in the Kansas State football program. Although he has yet to claim a conference championship, Snyder's legacy as one of the greatest coaches of all time is cemented as he joins Tom Osborne, Bear Bryant, Barry Switzer, Bob Devaney, and Darrell Royal as the most recent coaches to repeat as national champions.
What makes this story even more impressive is that the Wildcats lost a host of seniors from last year's championship team, at several key positions, including quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, and linebacker. K-State was expected to rebuild, and instead they reloaded. Most of these starters return in 2000 - is a three-peat in the cards?
All helmet images are courtesy of The Helmet Project. Check it out - it's pretty cool.
All bowl logos are courtesy of sportslogos.net, with some modification.
The 2000 FBS Playoff field will be unveiled Sunday at noon. Tomorrow, I will post the data for 1999, and I have added playoff records by coach because Nick Saban will be back with LSU, and several other coaches make playoff appearances with multiple teams (Urban Meyer, for one).
- SUNDAY: 2000 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