Thursday, January 06, 2005

Wrapping up the 2004 college football season

The 2004 college football season ended in a rout Tuesday night, as the USC Trojans flattened the previously unbeaten Oklahoma Sooners 55-19 to win the FedEx Orange Bowl and claim the Mythical National Championship for the 2004 college football season. I don’t think anybody was expecting the game to be as lopsided as it was; the Sooners just didn’t seem to be prepared for USC’s relentless offense (this year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Matt Leinart, threw five touchdown passes) and made too many mistakes (last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Jason White, threw three interceptions) on their way to their second consecutive BCS title game meltdown. I really didn’t care who won; I just wanted to see a good game. Needless to say, I, like millions of other college football fans, was disappointed. 

Auburn fans are probably especially cranky today; given last night’s performance, they no doubt believe that their undefeated Tigers, who beat Virginia Tech in Monday night’s Sugar Bowl but were left out of a shot at the national title, would have given the Trojans a better game. The Rose Bowl, on the other hand, was a classic. Putting aside for a moment the fact that the 5th-ranked Longhorns probably should have beaten the 12th-ranked Wolverines by more than a point, and ignoring for a second the pathetic whining to the media Mack Brown did in order to get his team there instead of California, the game itself, replete with spectacular performances from players like UT’s Vincent Young or Michigan’s Braylon Edwards, was one of the most thrilling and complete college football games in recent memory.

Like it or not, whiny Mack Brown was vindicated. Not only did the ‘Horns win the Rose Bowl, but the 4th-ranked Cal Golden Bears were embarrassed by 23rd-ranked Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl. I know Cal was not happy to be playing in this game, but a big win here would have made a statement; a loss makes them look like pretenders. Too bad Mack can’t beat Oklahoma or win a conference championship…

Other notable bowl games included the Capital One Bowl on New Year’s Day; 11th-ranked Iowa defeated 12th-ranked LSU 30-25 on a 56-yard touchdown pass as time expired. A pretty amazing finish, considering that LSU overcame a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter to take a 25-24 lead with 46 seconds left to play. The New Year’s Eve Liberty Bowl between 8th-ranked Louisville and 10th-ranked Boise State was also a thriller. The matchup between the two highest-ranked non-BCS schools was expected to be an offensive showdown, and it did not disappoint. Louisville won the see-saw battle, 44-40, to give Boise State its first loss of the year.

Steve Casburn and I went to see the Houston Bowl on Wednesday afternoon. Colorado and UTEP were evenly matched for a while but as the game progressed the Buffs’ strength and depth began to take over. Colorado won 33 to 28 in an entertaining, back-and-forth game.

The announced attendance for this game was 27,235. There just wasn’t a lot of local interest in this matchup, and the game’s start time of 3:30 pm didn’t make it easy for people to attend either. UTEP did their part, however, bringing several thousand fans and their entire band with them; their fans filled the entire west side of the field boxes. The Colorado contingent was perhaps only a fourth or a fifth as large. Colorado didn’t bring their entire band, either, although they did bring Ralphie the Bison with them.

Steve and I originally had tickets on the upper endzone, but we were asked by Reliant staff if we wanted to move down to the lower endzone seats; they clearly wanted to make the crowd look bigger for the ESPN cameras. We took up their offer and moved; the view wasn’t quite as good, however, and there was simply no way to make the stadium look “full” no matter how many fans were moved around. 

So ends the 2004 college football season. Hopefully 2005 will be a better one for my Houston Cougars. 

(Retroblogged on August 23, 2015.)