Wednesday, December 18, 2002
Ohio State has history on its side
By Terry Bowden
Special to ABC Sports Online
Bowden's Weekly Chat Show
I don't care what anybody says, but you have to give the BCS credit for getting us four of the best bowl matchups that any football fan would want to see.
Rose Bowl Game Presented by Playstation2
No. 8 Oklahoma vs. No. 7 Washington State
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
Jan. 1, 4:30 p.m. ET
The most important factor in this game is the health of Washington State QB Jason Gesser. We saw in his big win over UCLA what he can do when he is 50 percent. I guarantee you, with three weeks off, that he is going to be 100 percent for the Rose Bowl. The fact that he is going to be healthy and ready to play will be huge.
Oklahoma is a much more physical team than Washington State, and if this is a power, grind-it-out type game, the Sooners would be a lock. But this game is going to come down to Oklahoma's ability to stop the pass. Nobody in the country is better than Gesser at doing that.
If you look at OU's two losses, to Texas A&M and Oklahoma State, the Sooners gave up eight touchdown passes. If you look at them much closer, most of them came off the deep ball. And by the way, Gesser throws one of the sweetest deep balls in the country. So for Washington State to come out on top, it is going to have to come off of the hands of Gesser and receivers Devard Darling, Mike Bush and Jerome Riley.
Now if you are an Oklahoma fan, you are probably thinking that Gesser is going to have as much success as Kliff Kingsbury, the Big 12's most prolific passer who was completely shut down by the Sooners. Oklahoma's coaches do a better job than anybody at game planning against a team's most dangerous weapon. They will zero in on Gesser and the passing game from the very first practice.
The deciding factor will be the balanced offense of Oklahoma. Nate Hybl has played as consistently as a quarterback can play in his last few games, and Quentin Griffin is the most underrated running back in the country.
It will be a special treat for West Coast fans to get a first-hand look at Oklahoma, but I am afraid that dessert is going to leave a bad taste in their mouths.
Nokia Sugar Bowl
|Oklahoma has 3 ½ weeks to figure out how to stop Jason Gesser.|
No. 16 Florida State vs. No. 4 Georgia
Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans
Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. ET
I wouldn't exactly call this a family affair, but to take the words out of sweet ol' Bobby's mouth, it's pretty dadgum close. (If you're a Georgia fan, you can just abbreviate S.O.B.) Mark Richt, the head coach at Georgia, served as my father's offensive coordinator for quite a few years. Don't think he doesn't know every trick in the Seminoles' defensive playbook.
What might sound like as a shock to the general public, Georgia is probably a more talented team than Florida State this year. I'm sure Richt would enjoy showing his former teacher how much he has learned.
This is not Florida State's best football team that the old man has coached. In fact, it is the first four-loss team to ever make a BCS bowl game. But one of the best things Dad does is win bowl games. In his over 50 years of coaching, he's 18-6-1 in postseason play, and that's the best in college football. I guarantee he will have a plan and stick to it.
The bottom line is what I call "Want To": The Bulldogs may just want this one more than the Seminoles. Georgia hadn't won an SEC championship in 20 years, while Florida State has been spoiled with all its success.
Regardless, this is one game you don't want to miss.
FedEx Orange Bowl
No. 3 Iowa vs. No. 5 USC
Pro Player Stadium, Miami
Jan. 2, 8 p.m. ET
If you love watching great quarterbacks, you won't want to miss this one. Two of the best quarterbacks in the country will be on the field at the same time. And the scoreboard will be lit up.
Maybe the hottest player in the country is Southern California's Carson Palmer. He has been on fire the last few weeks and is in serious contention for the Heisman Trophy. With the talented receivers he has at USC, they are almost impossible to stop.
On the other hand, Iowa's Brad Banks is even more versatile. Not only can he beat you with the pass, but he runs with the swiftness of a running back. He's accompanied in the backfield by Fred Russell, who rushed for more than 100 yards in eight of 10 games.
What you end up with is a game with two prolific offenses. Although both these teams can play defense, the game may just come down to how well Iowa's undersized cornerbacks can handle the Trojan wideouts.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 1 Miami
Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
Jan. 3, 8 p.m. ET
Is there anybody out there who is actually picking Ohio State to win this game?
Miami won the national championship last year, lost 11 players to the NFL draft and looked just as good this season. When the Hurricanes are playing their best, they are virtually unstoppable. The offense is not only talented, but extremely versatile. If you overplay their fabulous running back, Willis McGahee, they are going to burn you with speedy receiver Andre Johnson. And if they need a clutch catch, they will pick you apart with tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. And the guy running the show is Ken Dorsey, who always gets them in the right place.
If there is one part of this team that is a cause for concern is its ability to stop the run. I promise you that is what Ohio State is going to try to exploit. Although Ohio State has one of the best field goal kickers in the country in Mike Nugent, the Buckeyes need to have Maurice Clarett picking up seven instead of settling for three.
And maybe more important than anything else in this matchup, there is something about this Ohio State football team. It kind of reminds me of Oklahoma two years ago. And if my memory serves me right, that Oklahoma team knocked off defending national champion Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
Terry Bowden is ABC's college football studio analyst and contributes regularly to ABC Sports Online.
|Willis McGahee might have wrapped up the Heisman with his six-TD performance Saturday.|