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BCS wrap-up: One last salute to OU
By Terry Bowden
Special to BCSfootball.com
Bowden's Weekly Chat Show

Every week throughout the season, ABC studio analyst Terry Bowden weighed in his assessment of the day's games, the highlights, the lowlights and the surprises. Here is his final installment.

Yet again, the Bowl Championship Series gave us an undisputed national champion. This season's BCS featured some great games, and many surprises.

Three Game Balls:
Torrance Marshall
Torrance Marshall earned MVP honors in the FedEx Orange Bowl.
  • Oklahoma: This is a no-brainer. The Sooners put the finishing touches on an improbable perfect season in grand fashion. Not only did they beat the Seminoles, but made FSU's offense look like Ned from first grade.

    Accolades have to start with Bob Stoops and his coaching staff for putting together a game plan -- especially on defense -- that kept FSU confused the entire game. With Oklahoma's offense doing just enough to keep OU in the lead, it would have only taken one breakdown by the Sooner defense to let the Seminoles back in the game.

    But, as was the case throughout the season, it didn't happen.

    Oklahoma's special teams, especially punter Jeff Ferguson, were superb, and kept Florida State backed up in the second half. Josh Heupel wasn't great, but he was better than Chris Weinke.

    Overall, Oklahoma did it again -- just as they have all season -- by being the best team on the field. Thus, without question, the Oklahoma Sooners are the best team in the nation.

  • Oregon State's defense: No segment of a college football team was more dominant during the BCS than the Beavers' defense. Before the game, I thought a big factor in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl would be how effectively Notre Dame could run the option. I knew Notre Dame would want to play conservative field position football, and if the Irish could run the ball, they'd have a chance.

    The Fighting Irish offense wasn't just stopped, it was destroyed. With Jonathan Smith and the Beaver offense pecking away at the Irish, it became a blowout in the third quarter.

    Now, with a No. 4 final ranking and a young football team to boot, could it be that Oregon State will be one of the leading contenders for next year's national championship game? It could very well happen.

  • Washington's offense: There's an old saying that, "There is nothing less important in life than the score at halftime." This had to be the case in this year's Rose Bowl, presented by AT&T.

    Washington and Purdue played a fairly even first half, and it looked like we were in for a real battle in the final 30 minutes between Drew Brees and Marques Tuiasosopo. But after intermission, Tui and the versatile Husky offense won the game by forcing Brees to stay seated on the bench for 23 of the final 30 minutes.

    Watching Washington run the option and throw the football better than anyone else does in the nation gave me even more respect for the incredible job Tuiasosopo has done for the Huskies.

    Surprises:
  • Florida State's offensive game plan: It's hard to criticize your old man, but I couldn't understand the thinking behind Florida State's strategy in the first half. With the nation's top quarterback and a group of receivers so strong that Bobby Bowden didn't miss Snoop Minnis, FSU chose to line up in an I-formation with maximum protection, while sending only two receivers out on routes.

    On top of this, the 'Noles began by running the ball six times and throwing it only five. It seemed like FSU was letting Oklahoma dictate the style of play, instead of the other way around.

    I say, "Dance with what brung ya."

    Najeh Davenport
    Najeh Davenport ran for a touchdown and caught a TD pass in the 'Canes 37-20 Sugar Bowl victory.
    Helped themselves:
  • Miami: After its solid victory over Florida, Miami has to be proud of its victory in the Nokia Sugar Bowl, and the Florida state championship. If Florida State had somehow pulled off a victory in the FedEx Orange Bowl, I can't help but believe the Hurricanes would have created a split national championship by the way they performed against the Gators.

    Even Papa Bowden said after the Orange Bowl that Miami was probably more worthy to have been in the championship game.

    What this does is establish the 'Canes as the early favorites to play for a national championship next season. I doubt the computers will compute Miami's numbers the same way they did this year.

    More importantly, Miami's No. 2 final ranking and victories over both in-state schools should be a real boost in recruiting the top players in the Sunshine State.

    Hurt themselves:
  • Notre Dame: You would still have to say Notre Dame's season was a huge success based on where it came from the year before. But ND's dismal offensive performance in the Fiesta Bowl definitely put a damper on the hopes and aspirations of the Irish faithful.

    Whereas before the game it looked like Notre Dame was preparing to project itself into a solid Top 10 team in 2001, now it looks like there are a lot of unanswered questions and inferior talent on the offensive side of the ball.

    Bob Davie has proven he is up to the task of turning this program around, but after the Fiesta Bowl fiasco, the off-season needs to be a productive one.

    Terry Bowden is ABC's college football studio analyst and is a regular contributor to BCSfootball.com.

  • ALSO SEE
    BCS wrap-up

    Oklahoma plays huge defense to cap perfect season

    'Canes stake title claim with 17-point win over Florida

    Oregan State completes comeback in compelling fashion

    Sweet as a Rose: Huskies knock off Purdue 34-24

    AUDIO/VIDEO
    video
     Oklahoma's Quentin Griffin scampers 10 yards for the game's only touchdown.
    avi: 1131 k
    RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

     Oklahoma's Torrance Marshall grabs the Chris Weinke pass that sets up the first OU field goal.
    avi: 1437 k
    RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

     Miami's Najeh Davenport turns an interception into a spectacular touchdown.
    avi: 1260 k
    RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

     After Keiwan Ratliff's interception, Earnest Graham breaks two tackles for a 36-yard touchdown run.
    avi: 1360 k
    RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

     Rose Bowl President Lorne Brown presents Rick Neuheisel and the Washington Huskies with the Rose Bowl championship trophy.
    avi: 3292 k
    RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

     Washington's Todd Elstrom brings down an 8-yard touchdown pass from Marques Tuiasosopo.
    avi: 1103 k
    RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

     Chad Johnson scores on a 74-yard pass from Jonathan Smith -- barely.
    avi: 1292 k
    RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

    audio
     Dennis Erickson is happy with the Beavers' Fiesta Bowl win against Notre Dame.
    wav: 428 k
    RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6





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