Cotton Bowl: The Cotton Bowl took the Georgia-USC region in order to claim the only SEC team in the field. Additionally, they were hoping for a Texas upset to get both the traditional Big 12-SEC match-up and a team from the state of Texas.
Holiday Bowl: The Holiday Bowl was stuck with Ohio State versus the winner of Oklahoma-Florida State. No Pac-10 team was left, but the teams still available certainly have a lot of prestige.
Were the bowls' guesses correct? Hit the jump to see.
Straight chalk again. Well, after yesterday's craziness, that's almost refreshing. More surprising to me is the Pac-10's sudden resurgence. I guess it was overdue, and it's no coincidence that it begins with Pete Carroll's entry into playoff action.
I think all Cat fans can agree that USC was pretty damn good that year, as it makes us look even better. Washington State must have been pretty good, since they also beat USC that season. I suspect both teams can make a run to the Final Four, and you can pretty much bank on either Kansas State or Oklahoma meeting them there, since a Big 12 team has played for every single championship so far.
That brings me to a larger point of interest. Have you noticed that all these 1, 2 and 3 seeds that keep losing are ACC, Big East, Big Ten and Pac-10 teams? The great thing about a playoff is this: In the BCS, teams can run the table in crappy conferences, as Miami and Ohio State did in 2002, and be anointed the two best teams.
In a playoff, you have to freaking earn it, and the best teams are probably in the 4-8 range as they played in tougher conferences and thus accumulated a few losses. In my opinion, this further validates the Big 12 as one of the best football conferences of the BCS era.
Game 1: No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (13-0) VS. No. 15 North Texas Mean Green (7-5)
Ohio Stadium - Columbus, Ohio
Saturday, Dec. 14, 2002 - 11 AM EST
Precipitation: Light Freezing Rain and Snow
Wind: NE 7 MPH
Final Score: Ohio State 34, North Texas 3
Player of the Game
Ohio State RB Maurice Clarett
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Cincinnati's upset of No. 1 seed Miami yesterday must have gotten the attention of their fellow Ohioans.
Ohio State (14-0), in its first playoff appearance since 1998, had no such problems in dispatching North Texas (7-6), which has lost both of its 1st round appearances, at home Saturday, 34-3.
Buckeye RB Maurice Clarett was the undisputed star, rushing 29 times for 177 yards and 3 TDs. QB Craig Krenzel complimented him with extremely accurate passing, going 7-8 for 107 yards and 1 TD despite the wintry mix that made field conditions challenging, to say the least.
Mean Green QB Andrew Smith was not so lucky; he was 10-17 for 94 yards and 1 INT against the stifling Buckeye defense. North Texas' vaunted 2-headed rushing attack was similarly ineffective, as Kevin Galbreath and Patrick Cobbs combined for just 119 yards on 36 carries and no touchdowns.
Clarett put this game away early, rushing for TDs of 6 and 44 yards in the 1st quarter to give the Buckeyes an 14-0 halftime lead. That was extended by Krenzel (16-yard TD pass to Chris Vance) and K Mike Nugent (33-yard FG) to 24-0 midway through the 3rd quarter, and it was time to call off the dogs.
Despite that, Clarett had his third TD run of the game in the 4th quarter, and Nugent added his second FG in three tries for the final margin of 34-3.
Ohio State will advance to the Holiday Bowl to meet the winner of Florida State-Oklahoma, while North Texas has accepted a bid to the New Orleans Bowl.
Game 2: No. 14 Marshall Thundering Herd (10-2) VS. No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs (12-1)
Sanford Stadium - Athens, Ga.
Saturday, Dec. 14, 2002 - 1 PM EST
Wind: E 5 MPH
Final Score: Georgia 55, Marshall 19
Player of the Game
Georgia RB Musa Smith
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) - Georgia made its playoff debut with a bang.
The Bulldogs (13-1) crushed Marshall (10-3) 55-19 Saturday to advance to the Cotton Bowl, and RB Musa Smith paved the way with 20 carries for 201 yards and 3 TDs.
Marshall QB Byron Leftwich made a valiant attempt to counter Smith's ground dominance, completing 35-49 passes for 357 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. Georgia QB David Greene was also excellent, going 12-21 for 234 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT.
In the 1st quarter, Smith rushed for a 48-yard TD and backup Tyson Browning rushed for a 24-yard TD to give the Dawgs a 14-0 lead, but Leftwich cut that to 14-7 early in the 2nd quarter with a 28-yard TD pass to Denero Marriott.
After Georgia K Billy Bennett (2-2 FG) kicked a 20-yarder to make it 17-7, Marshall K Curtis Head (2-3 FG) matched it with a 33-yarder, and then Marshall RB Brandon Carey ran in a 22-yard TD to make it 17-16, but Head missed the PAT try.
With 1:22 left in the period, Greene slung a 14-yard TD pass to Fred Gibson to push the halftime lead to 24-16, ending a vulnerable period for Georgia in which the score was as close as it would get.
Head kicked a 30-yard FG early in the 3rd quarter, but after that it was all Georgia, as Bulldog running backs ripped off four more TD runs in the 2nd half to put the lead firmly out of reach.
After the game, Marshall accepted a bid to the GMAC Bowl, while Georgia will await the winner of today's game between Texas and USC.
Game 3: No. 6 USC Trojans (10-2) VS. No. 11 Texas Longhorns (10-2)
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum - Los Angeles, Calif.
Saturday, Dec. 14, 2001 - 1:30 PM PST
Final Score: USC 45, Texas 35
Player of the Game
USC QB Carson Palmer
LOS ANGELES (AP) - What has gotten into the Pac-10?
Entering this year's playoff, the conference was a woeful 1-8 in playoff games. Now it has ripped off two straight wins, and today's came at the expense of the Big 12, the most dominant conference through four playoffs.
USC (11-2) beat Texas (10-3) at home in a 45-35 thriller Saturday, ejecting a team that played for the national championship last year and serving notice that Pac-10 is putting its past behind it.
QB Carson Palmer led the way for the Trojans, going 24-45 for 388 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT, and cemented himself as the Heisman front-runner in the process. His receivers put up impressive totals as well; Mike Williams caught seven passes for 122 yards and 1 TD, while Keary Colbert caught six for 100 yards and 2 TDs.
The Texas offense was no slouch, either. QB Chris Simms was 18-29 for 301 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT, and his chief receiver, Roy Williams, out-shined even the Trojan who shares his last name by catching six passes for 153 yards and 2 TDs.
Despite all the aerial yardage, the defenses were not completely helpless. USC had four sacks and limited Texas to just 94 rushing yards on 44 carries, while Texas sacked Palmer three times and held USC to 138 yards on the ground.
USC took an early 14-0 lead as Sultan McCullough rushed for a 2-yard TD and Colbert caught a 21-yard TD pass from Palmer, but Texas stormed back in the 2nd quarter with 17 straight points to take a 17-14 halftime lead on the road.
A 40-yard Ryan Killeen FG tied the game, and they extended the lead to 24-17 on another Palmer-to-Colbert TD pass late in the 3rd quarter. After Texas K Dusty Mangum (2-3 FG) kicked a 38-yarder, the score at the end of three periods was 24-20 USC.
That's when things got really crazy. McCullough had another 2-yard TD run and Simms answered with a 48-yard TD pass to Williams, and it was 31-28 USC. Then Palmer hit Williams from 5 yards out, and Simms again answered by connecting with his Williams from 18 yards out to cut the deficit to 35-38 with 3:56 remaining.
It was all for naught, though, as USC milked the clock efficiently and delivered a dagger with 1:24 remaining when Justin Fargas ran in a TD from 4 yards out to make it 45-35.
It is a disappointing ending for the Longhorns, who came close to a championship last season and were hoping to redeem that final loss with a dominant run this year. They will at least get a decent bowl bid and a chance to finish the season out strong, though.
Meanwhile, USC will make preparations to face Georgia in the Cotton Bowl. Thus far, it is the only 2nd round match-up that has set up as predicted.
Game 4: No. 10 Florida State Seminoles (9-4) VS. No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners (11-2)
Oklahoma Memorial Stadium - Norman, Okla.
Saturday, Dec. 14, 2002 - 7 PM CST
Wind: NW 7 MPH
Final Score: Oklahoma 44, Florida State 21
Player of the Game
Oklahoma RB Quentin Griffin
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - The final 1st round game of the 2002 FBS Playoff featured a rematch and a little revenge.
The 2001 FBS National Championship saw No. 2 Florida State upend No. 1 Oklahoma for the title. Saturday night, the Sooners (12-2) got a little payback as they stormed past the Seminoles (9-5) 44-21 on their home field, dealt Bobby Bowden only his third playoff loss ever and advanced to the 2nd round to face No. 2 Ohio State in the Holiday Bowl.
Oklahoma RB Quentin Griffin was simply marvelous, as he helped the Sooners to an astounding 456-122 advantage on the ground with his 32 carries for 305 yards and 2 TDs. He was ably assisted by Kejuan Jones, who added 18 carries for 128 yards. Toss in QB Nate Hybl's 11-16 night for 112 yards and 2 TDs, and Florida State never stood a chance.
The Sooner defense may have given up 21 points, but they came after meager gains in yardage as the Sooners stifled the Seminole ground game all night and held QB Chris Rix to 186 yards on 9-23 passing and 2 TDs.
Hybl and Rix traded TD passes in the 1st quarter and Griffin broke off a 62-yard TD run to give the Sooners an early 14-7 lead. Florida State RB Greg Jones gained most of his rushing yards for the night on a 68-yard TD run that tied the game at 14 just 30 seconds into the 2nd quarter. That was as close as it would get.
Over the next 25 minutes, the Sooners scored on a Hybl pass, a Hybl run, two Trey DiCarlo FGs and a Griffin run to push the score to 41-14 by the time Florida State finally scored again, on a meaningless 56-yard Rix-to-Anquan Boldin TD pass with nine seconds left in the 3rd quarter.
Bowden's first time in the playoff leading a lower-seeded team was a complete disappointment, as he has never won fewer than two games in a single playoff before. Meanwhile, Bob Stoops, a rising star in the coaching profession, will lead Oklahoma to its second Elite Eight appearance in three years after the Sooners narrowly missed the field last season.
All helmet images are courtesy of The Helmet Project. Check it out - it's pretty cool.
Capital One Florida Citrus Bowl
#8 Kansas State vs. #16 Cincinnati
Florida Citrus Bowl
SBC Communications Cotton Bowl Classic
#3 Georgia vs. #6 USC
Pacific Life Holiday Bowl
#2 Ohio State vs. #7 Oklahoma
San Diego, Calif.
The Rose Bowl Game presented by AT&T
#5 Washington State vs. #13 Boise State