The Bowl Championship Series produced frustration, anger, resentment – and some indelible memories.
No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Auburn play the final BCS championship game Monday in the Rose Bowl. Next year the College Football Playoff takes over the postseason.
So as college football fans say goodbye to the system many love to hate, let’s look back at some of championship game moments, plays and performances that will live on long after the BCS has been buried.
1) Vince’s masterpiece.
The best BCS championship game also had its most memorable single performance. Southern California came into the Rose Bowl after the 2005 season with two Heisman Trophy winners (Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush), consecutive national titles and 34 straight victories. Texas had Vince Young. Advantage, Longhorns. Actually, Mack Brown’s team was loaded, too, but Young was the difference. USC just couldn’t stop him. Young passed for 267 yards, ran for 200 and scored three touchdowns, including the game-winner on an 8-yard dash with 19 seconds left to make it 41-38.
2) Late flag.
Miami was already celebrating its second straight BCS championship and an overtime victory against Ohio State in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl – and then the flag flew. Line judge Terry Porter called pass interference on Hurricanes defensive back Glenn Sharpe on a fourth-down throw from Craig Krenzel to Chris Gamble. With new life, the Buckeyes tied the game at 24, took the lead on Maurice Clarett’s touchdown in the second overtime and stopped the Hurricanes to win it 31-24. Miami’s 34-game winning streak was snapped and the 2002 Hurricanes go down as the most talented team in the BCS era to lose the championship game.
3) Dyer is not down.
The 2011 championship game between Auburn and Oregon was expected to be a high-scoring affair, but it was tied at 19 with 2:33 left after an Oregon field goal. The Tigers had been carried by Cam Newton all season, but it was freshman Michael Dyer who made the play of the game. On the final drive, Dyer seemed to be stopped for a short gain, but he rolled over Oregon’s Eddie Pleasant, barely keeping his arms and legs off the turf, paused, realized the play was not blown dead and took off for 37 yards. Five plays later, Wes Bynum kicked a 19-yard field goal to make Auburn champs.
4) Key injuries.
Ohio State speedster Ted Ginn Jr. returned the opening kickoff of the 2007 championship game against Florida 93 yards for a touchdown. Great start for the Buckeyes, right? Well, Ginn injured his foot while celebrating with his teammates and didn’t play the rest of the game. It might not have mattered considering Florida went on to win 41-14, but it was a huge loss for the Buckeyes.
Texas got five plays out of star quarterback Colt McCoy in the 2010 national championship game against Alabama. McCoy took a shot from Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and left with an injured shoulder. The Longhorns turned to freshman Garrett Gilbert, who pulled Texas close in the second half, but Alabama pulled away for a 37-21 victory. Longhorns fans can’t help but wonder: What if?
Five times the BCS championship game has been decided by at least 21 points. Sure beatdowns don’t make for interesting second-half viewing, but some of these performances have to be appreciated. Miami jumped out to a 34-point lead in the first half and crushed Nebraska 37-14. Ken Dorsey and Andre Johnson hooked up for two TD passes. USC set a championship game record for points, pummeling Oklahoma 55-19 in the 2005 Orange Bowl. Matt Leinart threw five touchdown passes and the Trojans smothered Adrian Peterson. Last year, Alabama hammered Notre Dame and Manti Te’o, scoring on its first three drives and going up 35-0 in the third quarter. The Crimson Tide rolled 42-14 to a second straight title.
Young’s 2006 Rose Bowl stands alone, but others are notable. Florida State beat Virginia Tech 46-29 in the 2000 Sugar Bowl, but Hokies quarterback Michael Vick was brilliant. The redshirt freshman ran for 97 yards, passed for 225, accounted for two touchdowns and had several Wow! plays. Tim Tebow passed for 231 yards, ran for 109 and helped Florida beat Oklahoma for the 2008 championship. And Clarett made what might be the single most memorable play in a title game, stripping Miami’s Sean Taylor of the ball after Taylor had intercepted a pass in the end zone.