Orange Bowl: With the first pick, the Orange Bowl zeroed in on the Miami-USC-West Virginia region, which offers a blockbuster matchup and guarantees either an ACC or a Big East team.
Capital One Bowl: After the Cotton Bowl selected Texas' region, the Capital One Bowl chose Ohio State's, figuring it would either get a traditional Big Ten-SEC matchup, if Georgia advances, or a local "host," if Florida State pulls off the upset.
Game 1: No. 1 USC Trojans (12-0) VS. No. 16 Arkansas State Indians (6-5)
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum - Los Angeles, Calif.
Thursday, Dec. 15, 2005 - 5 PM PST
Final Score: USC 72, Arkansas State 38
Player of the Game
USC RB Reggie Bush
LOS ANGELES (AP) - For USC, the mantra was the same as usual: Another year, another No. 1 seed, another lopsided win against an over-matched No. 16 seed from the Sun Belt Conference, which is still seeking its first playoff win.
The Trojans (13-0) blasted Arkansas State (6-6) 72-38 to advance to their fourth consecutive Elite Eight appearance, thanks largely to 466 rushing yards from USC's stellar pair of running backs.
Reggie Bush rushed 18 times for 215 yards and put USC ahead 14-0 early with two of his six total TDs, while LenDale White paced him with 14 carries for 214 yards and a TD. Matt Leinart went 15 of 22 for 226 yards, 2 TDs and an INT, while Steve Smith caught four passes for 93 yards. The Trojans amassed four sacks, as well.
Surprisingly, Arkansas State's offense did not perform too shabbily against the stout USC defense. Antonio Warren carried the ball 25 times for 135 yards and 3 TDs, while Shermar Bracey had 17 carries for 125 yards and a TD. Nick Noce completed 13 of his 22 passes for 231 yards and a TD, while Levi Dejohnette caught four of those passes for 102 yards.
Even those impressive numbers were insufficient to keep up with talents like Bush and White, though, and the Indians' defense was not even close to being able to stop them at any point on Thursday night. USC led 28-0 after the 1st quarter, 38-14 at halftime and 51-24 after three periods.
Most likely, some of Arkansas State's offensive success came as a result of the game being so out of hand and the USC reserves filtering into the game slowly.
USC will advance to the Orange Bowl to face the winner of tomorrow's game between Miami and West Virginia, while Arkansas State will proceed to the New Orleans Bowl and attempt to finish above .500 for the season.
Game 2: No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes (9-2) VS. No. 13 Tulsa Golden Hurricane (8-4)
Ohio Stadium - Columbus, Ohio
Friday, Dec. 16, 2005 - 11 AM EST
Wind: NE 8 MPH
Final Score: Ohio State 48, Tulsa 19
Player of the Game
Ohio State RB Antonio Pittman
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio State made sure it didn't fall prey to the same "4-13" curse that caught Big Ten brethren Iowa and Michigan by surprise in previous seasons.
Then again, the Buckeyes didn't have to play Boise State - who went on to win a national championship in 2003 - so maybe that helps a little.
Ohio State (10-2) beat Tulsa (8-5) 48-19 in the 'Shoe to advance to its first Elite Eight since 2002.
Antonio Pittman led the way for the Buckeyes with a staggering 376 rushing yards and 4 TDs on just 26 carries. Given that kind of rushing dominance, Ohio State QB Troy Smith (5-7, 56 yards, 1 TD) didn't need to do much to keep the offense moving.
Paul Smith led the scrappy Golden Hurricane with 15-of-29 passing for 201 yards, and Brad DeVault converted nearly every time his team got him close, completing four of his five FG attempts, but all Tulsa could do was hang close for a while.
Thanks to DeVault, the Hurricane actually led 6-3 late in the 1st quarter, but the first of many broken plays struck with 2:43 remaining in the period when Pittman broke loose for a 75-yard TD run to give the Buckeyes a 10-6 lead.
Another DeVault kick made it 10-9, but Pittman busted loose again 20 seconds later, this time for 71 yards and a 17-9 lead. He would later tack on a 12-yard TD run to make it 24-9, and things began to look bleak for Tulsa.
The Hurricane still did not pack it in, however, as they bracketed halftime with another DeVault kick and a Uril Parrish TD run to cut the deficit to just 24-19. Ohio State turned up the defensive pressure from there, though, and Tulsa did not score the rest of the game.
The Buckeyes advance to the Capital One Bowl to face either Florida State or Georgia, while Tulsa will most likely receive and accept an invitation to the Liberty Bowl to finish its season.
Game 3: No. 12 Florida State Seminoles (8-4) VS. No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs (10-2)
Sanford Stadium - Athens, Ga.
Friday, Dec. 16, 2005 - 4:30 PM EST
Wind: E 8 MPH
Final Score: Georgia 24, Florida State 13
Player of the Game
Georgia WR Bryan McClendon
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) - The second verse was the same as the first - only in reverse.
In 2002, No. 5 seed Florida State hosted and beat No. 12 seed Georgia 36-24.
Fast forward three years. This time, it was Georgia (11-2) with the No. 5 seed, the home field advantage and the win.
The 24-13 victory was only Georgia coach Mark Richt's second in the playoffs, but it was a sweet one, as he was able to deny Florida State coach Bobby Bowden his 10th playoff win. Bowden was Richt's former boss and mentor when he served as defensive coordinator at Florida State before taking the Georgia job.
Florida State (8-5) scored first, jumping ahead 7-0 after Drew Weatherford (27-49, 294 yards, 3 INTs) completed an 8-yard TD pass to Willie Reid (6 catches, 58 yards) less than three minutes after kickoff. The Seminoles later added a 25-yard Gary Cismesia FG and led 10-0 with three minutes remaining before halftime.
Things fell apart quickly, though. First, Danny Ware (11 carries, 37 yards) broke loose for a 6-yard TD run with a minute left in the half. Then, more improbably, Georgia capitalized on a Weatherford INT in a big way when D.J. Shockley (12-24, 216 yards) connected with Bryan McClendon (3 catches, 84 yards) from 48 yards out for a TD as time expired.
So, the Seminoles trudged into the locker room facing a 14-10 halftime deficit when only three minutes earlier, they were pitching a shutout. They never seemed to recover from the change of events, at least on offense, and a defensive struggle broke out in the 2nd half as both teams traded a FG but were otherwise unable to score until well into the final period.
That was when Thomas Brown (17 carries, 104 yards) finally put the hammer down and gave Georgia a solid lead for the first time in the game, with a 49-yard TD run with 6:08 remaining that signaled to the home crowd that they could finally exhale.
Other standouts included Leon Washington, who amassed 106 rushing yards on 14 carries but did not score, and the Georgia defense, which sacked Weatherford five times.
Georgia now advances to play Ohio State in the Capital One Bowl, a throwback to the days when both teams dominated college football with running backs like Archie Griffin and Herschel Walker. Neither will be suiting up next week, however, and it will be up to Brown and Ware to find a way to generate a little more offense than they did today if they hope to knock off the Buckeyes.
Meanwhile, Florida State will head to a minor bowl for the second time in three playoff appearances, but that's still infinitely preferable to not making the field at all, as the Seminoles failed to do last year.
Game 4: No. 8 Miami Hurricanes (9-2) VS. No. 9 West Virginia Mountaineers (10-1)
Miami Orange Bowl - Miami, Fla.
Friday, Dec. 16, 2005 - 8 PM EST
Wind: E 8 MPH
Final Score: Miami 27, West Virginia 10
Player of the Game
Miami RB Tyrone Moss
MIAMI (AP) - If the Big East still holds a grudge against Miami for leaving the conference for the ACC two years ago, it probably won't feel any better after watching its champion get worked over by the Hurricanes in the FBS Playoff.
Miami (10-2) beat West Virginia (10-2) Friday night, 27-10, in a game that felt very reminiscent of the many great battles between the former conference foes. It was also Miami's first playoff win since 2001.
Early on, it looked like this one would be quite the battle. Tyrone Moss kicked things off for the Hurricanes by catching a 10-yard TD pass from Kyle Wright (15-27, 173 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) for an early 7-0 lead, but he did most of his damage on the ground in the game, carrying the ball 24 times for 108 yards.
West Virginia's stellar freshman, Steve Slaton (30 carries, 135 yards), soon answered Moss' challenge with a 4-yard TD run, and a 37-yard Jon Peattie FG gave Miami a slim 10-7 lead at the end of the 1st quarter.
Wright scored the only points of the 2nd period, with a 14-yard TD pass to Darnell Jenkins, and Miami led 17-7 at halftime as the Hurricanes turned up the pressure on talented, but inexperienced, freshman QB Pat White, who struggled all day, completing just 9 of his 18 passes for only 37 yards and 2 INTs.
That left too much of the weight on Slaton's shoulders, and despite how good he is, no freshman can bear that weight in a comeback attempt on the road in the playoffs.
Although Miami did not score much more until late in the 4th quarter, the game was never really in doubt in the 2nd half as the Hurricane defense pummeled White over and over and Moss slowly bled the clock away with run after run.
Now Miami faces a much tougher challenge; USC awaits them next week in the Orange Bowl. The crowd will be on the Hurricanes' side, though, which gives them an advantage to exploit if Moss can continue running this well and Wright can improve a little in his pass selection.
Meanwhile, a surprising season for West Virginia will draw to a close in a smaller bowl than they had planned a week ago, but it's more than anyone expected from the Mountaineers before the season began. College football should expect to hear more from this program in the years to come as these freshmen become upperclassmen.
All helmet images are courtesy of The Helmet Project. Check it out - it's pretty cool.
#15 Akron @ #2 Texas
Texas Memorial Stadium
#14 Boise State @ #3 Penn State
State College, Pa.
#11 TCU @ #6 Oregon
#10 Auburn @ #7 Notre Dame
Notre Dame Stadium
Notre Dame, Ind.
BracketCat's Protest Playoff Archives
1998: Selection Sunday | Sweet 16 (1) | Sweet 16 (2) | Elite 8 | Final 4 | Fiesta | Data | Encore
1999: Selection Sunday | Sweet 16 (1) | Sweet 16 (2) | Elite 8 | Final 4 | Sugar | Data | Encore
2000: Selection Sunday | Sweet 16 (1) | Sweet 16 (2) | Elite 8 | Final 4 | Orange | Data | Encore
2001: Selection Sunday | Sweet 16 (1) | Sweet 16 (2) | Elite 8 | Final 4 | Rose | Data
2002: Selection Sunday | Sweet 16 (1) | Sweet 16 (2) | Elite 8 | Final 4 | Fiesta | Data
2003: Selection Sunday | Sweet 16 (1) | Sweet 16 (2) | Elite 8 | Final 4 | Sugar | Data
2004: Selection Sunday | Sweet 16 (1) | Sweet 16 (2) | Elite 8 | Final 4 | Orange | Data
2005: Selection Sunday