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Who's No. 1?

   by Larry Ness - 01/05/2005

In 1974, an 11-0 Oklahoma team on probation and unable to go 'bowling', claimed the nation's No. 1 ranking in the AP poll. USC, ranked No. 4 in the coaches poll prior to the bowl season, then beat No. 2 Ohio State 18-17 in the Rose Bowl. Later that night, Alabama ranked No. 1 in the coaches' poll lost to Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl 13-11. When the dust had settled, USC wound up No. 1 in the final coaches' poll, gaining a share of the national title....

THIRTY years later, after getting beat by USC 55-19 Tuesday night in the Orange Bowl, the Sooners are probably wishing they could have been 'saved' by probation in 2004! USC's complete domination of Oklahoma, should have left little doubt as to which team is this year's best....

That being said, as long as the college presidents continue on their current course, with no playoff system on the horizon, controversy will follow. Tuesday in the LA Times, respected sports writer J.A. Adande wrote, "The Tigers exposed the BCS for all its fraudulence by completing an undefeated season with a 16-13 victory over Va. Tech". He went on to ask, "A team emerges from the vaunted SEC with a perfect record and doesn't get a piece of No. 1?"....

Without a playoff, all we are left with are opinions! Therefore, it should be pointed out that Auburn's win over Va Tech was hardly impressive plus Auburn's non-conference slate in 2004 featured college football powers UL-Monroe, The Citadel and La. Tech! As for that vaunted SEC? SEC teams went 3-3 SU and 1-5 ATS in this year's bowl season!...

The 2004 college football season finished its year with three undefeated teams, after completing its bowl season. USC and Auburn finished at 13-0 with Utah ending its record-setting year at 12-0. That hasn't happened since 1994....

That season, a 13-0 Nebraska team was awarded both the AP and Coaches' title over Joe Pa's 12-0 Penn State team. Texas A&M finished at 10-0-1 that year but was on probation and didn't paly in a bowl....

Joe Pa and Penn State supporters were none too happy about finishing second that year, so for those of you who think the current state of affairs in college football is the fault of the BCS, THINK AGAIN!...

I'll look no further than Paterno's career at Penn State to emphasize this. While Paterno owns two national titles, FOUR times he had teams finish unbeaten, yet came up empty. The 1994 season was just the most recent....

In 1968, Penn State finished 11-0 but Woody Hayes' 10-0 Ohio State Buckeyes claimed the 'undisputed' national title. Paterno's 1969 team again went 11-0 but this time it was Darrell Royal's 11-0 Texas team that finished ahead of the Nittany Lions. In 1973, Joe Pa led Penn State to a 12-0 season, yet finished FIFTH in the final AP rankings. How about that!...

For those of you who think things are screwed up now or for those of you that may think things were better prior to the BCS, I give you the 1973 season! That year, SIX teams finished undefeated!...

Miami-Ohio finished that year 11-0 and ranked 15th (Utah fans shouldn't feel so bad!). Michigan finished 10-0-1 and ranked No. 6. Penn State was fifth at 12-0. Oklahoma was on probation again that year (boy they sure picked on poor Barry Switzer an awful lot in those days, didn't they?) and finished No. 3, at 10-0-1.

The national title played out like this. Alabama finished the regular at 11-0 and was ranked no. 1. Oklahoma was No. 2 but on probation. Notre Dame (remember when it was a national power?) was No. 3, at 10-0. Ohio State was no. 4 at 9-0-1....

Ohio State routed No. 7 USC in the Rose Bowl 42-21 and then Notre Dame edged Alabama 24-23, in the Sugar. That left Notre Dame at No. 1 with an 11-0 mark and Ohio State at No. 2 with a 10-0-1 record. Oklahoma finished No. 3 and 11-1 Alabama finished No. 4 ahead of unbeaten Penn State and Michigan. And you think things are bad these days?....

Final Bowl Musings (In no particular order)....

The Rose Bowl nobody wanted, Texas vs Michigan, turned out to be arguably this year's best bowl game. Also, the game made us wonder if the nation's best runningback might just be a quarterback? Texas' Vince Young threw for one TD but ran for 192 yards and four TDs in just 21 carries!...

EXPECTED FLOPS THAT WERE....West Va and Florida State each played like the disappointments they were in 2004. FSU won the Gator Bowl 30-18 over West Virginia but BOTH teams were pathetic. West Virginia had four turnovers, two missed extra-points and 11 penalties for 121 yards. FSU had three turnovers, all by Chris Rix in his final game (THANKFULLY!) for the Seminoles. Bowden's well-coached and disciplined team also chipped-in with 17 penalties for 174 yards....

As anticipated, Pitt proved it didn't belong ANYWHERE NEAR a BCS Bowl game or on the same field as Utah, losing 35-7 to the Utes in the Fiesta Bowl....

EXPECTED THRILLERS THAT WERE....The Liberty Bowl was everything expected of it and MORE, as Louisville overcame four turnovers to end Boise State's 22-game winning streak 44-40! The nation's top-two offenses, produced the highest-scoring Liberty Bowl in its 46-year history....

Virginia NEVER seems to win the important games and Pat Hill's Fresno State team has beaten more BCS schools than any other non-BCS team since 2000. That was the set-up in this year's MPC Computers Bowl and one shouldn't have been concerned when Virginia took a 21-7 lead. Fresno tied the game in the final seconds on a fourth-down play and won in OT, 37-34....

EXPECTED CLASSIC, TURNED FLOP....Anyone want to guess?...

Break-Out Star....Bowling Green QB Omar Jacobs' five TD passes tied him with Timmy Chang and Matt Leinart for the most by any QB in this year's bowl season. He finished his SOPHOMORE season with 41 TD passes and just four interceptions....

QBs with BROKEN HANDS GO 2-1....Bruce Gradkowski of Toledo could only make it through the first half with his broken hand (6-of-12 42 YDs 0 TDs / 0 INTs), as the Rockets lost 39-10 to U Conn. However, Gino Guidugli of Cincinnati was 24-of-36 for 231 yards with two TDs and one interception, as the Bearcats beat Marshall 32-14. Paul Peterson of Boston College began the Continental Tire Bowl with a broken hand and left it with a broken leg. In between, he completed 24-of-33 passes for 236 yards with two TDs and no interceptions in BC's 37-24 win over North Carolina....

The Big-12 North gets the last laugh....While Iowa State beat Miami-Ohio 17-13 and Colorado beat UTEP 33-28, Oklahoma State lost to Ohio State 33-7, Texas A&M lost to Tennessee 38-7 and of course Oklahoma lost to USC 55-19. Texas and Texas Tech, 45-31 winners over Cal, salvaged some respect for the South....

Speaking of Cal....Cal and its supporters cried LOUD and HARD about getting passed over for the Rose Bowl by Texas and then went out and allowed over 500 yards passing to Sonny Cumbie in a 45-431 Holiday Bowl loss to Texas Tech. Tech is SO good it lost at New Mexico, scored 13 points in a loss at Oklahoma and lost at home to Texas, 51-21!...

FANTASTIC FINISHES.....A tie between Drew Tate's 56-yard TD pass on the game's final play, as Iowa beat LSU 30-25 in the Capital One Bowl and Texas' final drive that ended in a Dusty Mangum 37-yard field goal that beat Michigan 38-37 in the Rose Bowl....

BEST DRIVE....With due respect to both of the above and Arizona's State final drive that beat Purdue 27-23 in the Sun Bowl, what could have been better than Navy's 26-play, 14-minute 26-second drive vs New Mexico in the Emerld Bowl? Navy finished the year with 10 wins for the first time since going 10-1-1 in 1905! In these times, could there be a better "feel-good" story?...

BOWL VIRGINS....UAB and Troy played like ones, losing 59-40 to Hawaii (UAB) and 34-21 to Northern Illinois (Troy). However, U Conn "had its way" with Toledo, winning 39-10....

OH THOSE COACHES....Twenty schools have made coaching changes so far and six of those schools played in this current bowl season. In the Fiesta Bowl, both teams were playing with coaches leaving right after the game, so we'll call it a PUSH....

As for the four other schools, all four LOST both SU and ATS! Miami-Ohio's Terry Hoeppner coached the Redhawks in the Independence Bowl (before leaving for Indiana), losing 17-13. Notre Dame fired Ty Willingham, who was already in Washington when the Fighting Irish lost their SEVENTH straight bowl game, 38-21 to Oregon State in the Insight Bowl....

Ron Zook was let go by Florida in mid-season but finished the regular season on the sidelines, leading the Gators to a 7-4 year. He didn't stick around for the Peach Bowl though (he's off to Illinois), as Florida lost for the SIXTH straight time to in-state rival Miami-Florida, 27-10....

Finally, Nick Saban said "yes" to the Miami Dolphins but hung around the LSU sidelines long enough to see his defending national champions lose on the final play of the Capital One Bowl tp Iowa. Anyone feel sorry for him?...


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