The only cool thing about this year’s UCLA/USC match up was that they both wore their dark jerseys again. Other than that, even with the electrifying Robert Woods (above) there wasn’t much to see here.
Photo by Jeff Lewis
BCS came up with the right two teams, UCLA/USC’s lackluster game, and the bowl season.
By Michael Brown,
Sentinel Sports Writer
Say what you will about the controversial BCS system and its questionable decisions at times, although one thing isn‘t up for debate: this year, it got it right.
After being on a collision course for several weeks, the top ranked teams in the nation, Oregon and Auburn, will meet in Glendale, AZ in the BCS title game on Jan. 10 to decide the national championship.
With both teams taking care of business and winning Saturday, all doubts were erased about who should play for the title. TCU had an outside shot, but saw its opportunity disappear when Oregon and Auburn cruised to victories.
Auburn embarrassed South Carolina in the SEC Championship in Atlanta and Oregon, though the game was close early, overpowered Oregon State in the second half to win the Civil War rivalry.
Oregon and Auburn are more similar than they’re different, and could potentially put on an offensive display for the ages.
Both teams are led by dual threat quarterbacks and second-year head coaches, finished undefeated, feature Heisman Trophy contenders and had to deal with off-the-field issues.
I perused the preseason college football magazines and predictions and couldn’t find anyone who picked these teams to reach the title, and for good reason.
Oregon made headlines during the off-season for several arrests, including the dismissal of its starting quarterback and the one-game suspension of Heisman contending tailback LaMichael James.
With all of the turmoil, many picked Oregon to finish in the middle of the Pac-10, but that was before sophomore quarterback Darron Thomas blossomed.
Auburn returned a lot of starters, but no one knew what to make of its starting quarterback position. The Tigers were expected to compete, but to finish in the middle of the SEC pack.
But like Oregon, the Tigers featured a new starting quarterback who took over the reigns. Cam Newton has electrified college football since week 1 and is almost single-handedly responsible for them having a title chance.
Newton has persevered the past three weeks despite allegations of wrong doing by his father. It was acknowledged last week that Cecil Newton solicited payment for his son’s services. However, the NCAA, after Auburn suspended Newton for a day last week, reinstated him and declared him eligible.
The past week featured conference championship games, where there were a number of standout performances. And along with the BCS selections, all of the bowl games were announced.
This year’s edition of the storied USC-UCLA rivalry served as an imperfect microcosm of both teams’ seasons.
During the Trojans’ 28-14 victory against the Bruins at the Rose Bowl, USC’s offense looked skittish at times led by a hobbled quarterback Matt Barkley, who missed the prior week’s home loss to Notre Dame.
UCLA on the other hand, just couldn’t get out of its own way. After the Bruins tied the score at 7-all due to a 59-yard touchdown run by tailback Jonathan Franklin, they had a chance to go-ahead in the second quarter.
After driving down the field to USC’s 32-yard line, a Bruins fumble was returned by Trojans linebacker Malcolm Smith for a touchdown.
USC tailback Allen Bradford was a one-man wrecking crew and his team’s only consistent source of offense. Bradford put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter with a 47-yard touchdown reception, and followed it with a 73-yard run for a score, giving the Trojans a 28-7 lead. He finished with 28 carries for 212 yards.
The game was marred by penalties and multiple turnovers by both teams, neither of which is playing in a postseason bowl game. However, the ugliest part of the game didn’t occur on the field.
Unlike last year, when both teams nearly came to blows, this year, opposing fans decided they would scrap it out in the parking lot before the game.
According to reports, more than 70 people joined in a melee that left two people stabbed and led to several arrests.
The grey overcast weather during the game was a perfect backdrop for an ugly game, day and disappointing season for both squads.
Auburn punched its ticket to the title game by dominating South Carolina from start to finish winning, 56-17.
You knew Auburn was destined when at the end of the first half, leading 21-14; Newton cocked back and launched a 51-yard hail mary that glanced off the hand of a South Carolina defensive back, and into the hands of Darvin Adams for a touchdown.
Newton finished 17-of-28 passing for 335 yards and four touchdowns and ran 14 times for 73 yards and two scores. For all intents and purposes, he locked up the Heisman Trophy award.
Since the NCAA decided that Newton is eligible, the Heisman Committee should inscribe his name on the trophy and mail it to the quarterback. The only thing that could derail Newton’s chances are voter unease about the allegations.
Oregon avoided an upset by running over its rival Oregon State, 37-20. The Beavers put up a good fight early, but the Ducks’ tailbacks were too much.
James had 28 carries for 134 yards and two touchdowns while Kenjon Barner finished with 14 carries for 133 yards and a score.
In the Big 12 Championship, Oklahoma trailed Nebraska 17-0 in the second quarter, but rallied and won, 23-20, clinching a BCS berth.
Quarterback Landry Jones led the Sooners comeback by throwing for 342 yards with a touchdown and ran for a 1-yard score.
Virginia Tech’s quarterback Tyrod Taylor led his team to a 44-33 win against Florida State in the ACC Championship. Taylor finished 18-of-28 passing for 263 yards with three touchdowns and ran for a 5-yard score.
Big games this bowl season
Without a viable playoff system, and none on the horizon in the foreseeable future, it’s tough to get hyped up about the 35 bowl games.
With the excessive amount of games, 13 .500 teams qualified and were given bowl game bids, likely resulting in another bowl season of meaningless games with half empty stadiums and poor ratings.
Aside from the BCS Championship, there are several other contests that are interesting,
In BCS game matches, Sixth-ranked Ohio State will play No. 8 Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl; No. 4 Stanford faces No. 13 Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl and No. 5 Wisconsin faces No. 3 TCU in the Rose Bowl.
Non-BCS bowl games to watch are Texas A&M versus LSU in the Cotton Bowl; Alabama faces Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl and Utah will play Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl.