Well, crapola. I will admit I was hoping for a BOTC Protest Playoff championship trifecta, but it wasn't meant to be. Washington State was a really good team in 2002, though, so there's no shame in losing to them. Ell, Darren and the boys will be back next year/week, have no fear.
Meanwhile, Big Game Bob soldiers on. He should be at the forefront of demanding a playoff. His teams seem to perform better in that format. Anyhow, we now have the real-life Rose Bowl match-up of 2002, only it will be the Fiesta Bowl for all the marbles. Will history repeat itself, or will we get a reversal of reality like we did two weeks ago when Florida State upset Oklahoma? Check back tomorrow...
Game 1: No. 6 USC Trojans (12-2) VS. No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners (13-2)
Nokia Sugar Bowl
Louisiana Superdome - New Orleans, La.
Saturday, Dec. 28, 2002 - 4:30 PM EST
Precipitation: None (dome)
Temperature: 70 (dome)
Wind: None (dome)
Final Score: Oklahoma 16, USC 9
Player of the Game
Oklahoma RB Quentin Griffin
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Bob Stoops is going back to the title game.
Oklahoma (14-2) defeated USC (12-3) 16-9 Saturday in the Sugar Bowl to advance to the national championship. It will be the Sooners' second appearance in three seasons.
There they will meet either conference foe Kansas State or Pac-10 Champion Washington State, teams that both also beat USC this season.
Oklahoma RB Quentin Griffin propelled his team to the win, rushing 26 times for 126 yards and TDs of 3 and 29 yards to give the Sooners an early 13-0 lead, which K Trey DiCarlo then extended to 16-0 on a 42-yard FG with 5:45 left in the 1st half.
Little did USC fans realize then that was the decisive outcome. USC K Ryan Killeen scored nine unanswered points in the game, but they weren't enough to overcome Griffin's early burst in the face of an Oklahoma defense that sacked USC QB Carson Palmer (25-46, 292 yards) five times. Meanwhile, Oklahoma QB Nate Hybl was 11-22 for 129 yards and an interception, which was just enough to keep the Sooners in control.
Game 2: No. 8 Kansas State Wildcats (12-2) VS. No. 5 Washington State Cougars (12-2)
FedEx Orange Bowl
Pro Player Stadium - Miami Gardens, Fla.
Saturday, Dec. 28, 2002 - 8 PM EST
Wind: S 13 MPH
Final Score: Washington State 13, Kansas State 3
Player of the Game
Washington State RB Jermaine Green
MIAMI (AP) - Bill Snyder's quest to play for a third national championship in five years came up just short.
In the process, the Pac-10 has all but erased the stain the first four FBS playoffs left on its resume.
Washington State (13-2) beat Kansas State (12-3) 13-3 in the Orange Bowl Saturday night to become the first Pac-10 team to play for a national championship since the playoffs began. The Pac-10 is now 6-9 in playoff games after USC's loss earlier today, which is a dramatic improvement from the 1-8 record with which it began this playoff.
This was an extremely defensive game with little scoring, but there were still a few offensive standouts. K-State QB Ell Roberson was 12-20 for 175 yards, while Washington State QB Jason Gesser was an even better 23-30 for 241 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT.
The game started slow, and it took the Cougars until 12:03 in the 2nd quarter to finally get on the board at 7-0 when RB Jermaine Green caught a 53-yard TD pass from Gesser. Drew Dunning would later add a 39-yard FG to make it 10-0 at halftime, and a 43-yard FG to make it 13-0 early in the 3rd quarter.
While Kansas State K Joe Rheem did make a 39-yarder later in the 3rd period to avoid the shutout, what will haunt him are the kicks he missed from 40, 48 and 44 yards out. Although they still would have had the Wildcats trailing 12-13 had he made all of them, it might have changed Washington State's strategy enough to allow K-State to find some weaknesses in the defense for a go-ahead score.
Instead, the Wildcats will return home, their return to the playoff soured by an exit just short of the final round, while Snyder will watch his protege Bob Stoops try to do what his team could not: stop the Cougars of the Palouse.
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
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
#5 Washington State vs. #7 Oklahoma
Sun Devil Stadium