Big 12: Reggie Bush
Last Monday, we began a week-long project looking at the most famous touchdowns from 100-plus yards down to one yard, and we'll be taking a look at each of the Big 12 entrants on the blog throughout the week.
You can see the full project here.
The eight-yard spot is taken by one of the most famous plays from one of the best players in college football history. In one of the greatest national championship games ever played, Vince Young capped a game-winning drive with a career-defining play, winning his second consecutive Rose Bowl, and doing it against one of the greatest college dynasties ever.
Jan. 4, 2006: It was fourth-and-5, but it might as well have been fourth-and-goal -- the goal being Texas' first national championship in 35 years. Quarterback Vince Young spent all night outplaying the guy who took the Heisman Trophy from him, USC tailback Reggie Bush. On the final play of his college career, Young took the shotgun snap and outraced Trojans end Frostee Rucker to the right pylon. Texas won 41-38. The confetti still rains in Austin.
-- Ivan Maisel
The Trojans beat Oklahoma 55-19 in the Orange Bowl to win the title and cap a perfect season, but history has been altered by heavy NCAA sanctions, including bowl bans, resulting from violations during the 2004 and 2005 seasons.
That produced an obvious question that at least a few asked via my mailbag in the hours that followed: Does Oklahoma get to claim the title now?
The answer is simple: No.
Just as Vince Young won't be collecting Reggie Bush's vacated Heisman, Oklahoma won't add an eighth national title. Neither will Auburn (led by now-Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville) or Utah, who both went undefeated in the 2004 season but were left out of the title.
Tuberville, though, believes the title should be awarded to his Tigers.
"Yes," Tuberville told ESPN on Monday. "Someone should be awarded (the) title. If not, the team that had to forfeit is not really punished."
I'd disagree with that.
There's validity to the argument that people remember that game, and re-writing the history books with Auburn--or any one else, for that matter--won't change anything.
Vacated means simply that: No one won the title that year, and from now on, that's how the history books will remember the 2004 season. USC's players and fans may disagree, and I'm sure millions recall that game happening, but college football history won't.
What that means is certainly up for debate, but what isn't for debate Oklahoma's trophy case, which won't be adding another title unless it wins one in 2011.
David Ubben: First off, no matter what my friends tell me, that movie looks like garbage. But this question is interesting. I'd invite you all to make your own lists, but here's mine.
1) Nate Solder, left tackle, Colorado: First off, at 6-foot-9 and 310 pounds, he's probably the biggest player in the entire league. But he also hang cleans 470 pounds, runs a 4.88 40-yard dash and has a 32-inch vertical leap. He's very high on my list of guys I wouldn't want to face in a jungle death match. And yes, that list exists.
2) Ronnell Lewis, linebacker, Oklahoma: Defensive coordinator Brent Venables has coached some big hitters in his day like Rocky Calmus and Roy Williams. He says Lewis, just a sophomore, hits the hardest. And he hails from tiny Dewar, Oklahoma. Everybody knows you don't mess with country boys.
3) Cody Johnson, running back, Texas: Anybody want to try and tackle him? The Longhorns' 5-foot-11, 250-pound goal-line back is the closest thing to a bowling ball in the Big 12. Steer clear. I know I will.
Who's on your list?
Craig in Wichita, Kan. writes: Two years ago, the Big XII was known for lighting up the scoreboard. Last seasonit was the defenses that took the spotlight. What's going to be the Big XII's signature in 2010?
DU: A conference takes on the identity of its top teams. There's a ton of other great offenses across the Big 12, but look at the top three teams in the league: Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma. All three should field top-10 defenses in 2010. So even though there are offenses like Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Missouri, the league's going to be known for defense once again. If that's not enough, look around at the Big 12 representatives on any All-American team. Very few offensive players, but lots of defensive guys like Jared Crick at Nebraska, Aaron Williams at Texas or Travis Lewis at Oklahoma.
Cord in College Station, Texas, writes: As a longhorn living in College Station, I've already heard plenty of "noise" from the A&M faithful about this being their year. I know you're an Aggie, too, and I'm just wondering what you're non-biased prediction for the Aggie season is. Hook'em.
DU: I'm afraid you're mistaken. I've never gigged anything or anyone, but nine wins for the Aggies is probably about right. If I had to pick it, they knock off Nebraska at home, but lose to Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. They'll need to spring some upsets to win the South.
Craig in Ames, Iowa, writes: Do you think the recent flooding will help or hurt the Cyclones? Will the team-uniting fight against the adversity help, or will the routine-destroying distraction keep ISU from being ready for the first game against NIU?
DU: I don't think it hurts all that much, but if Paul Rhoads' team isn't already one of the league's closest, this sealed it. Some of the guys on that team have been through three coaching staffs, but finally got to experience some real success last season. Really, Iowa State only missed one practice, and though I'm sure there's some family troubles for a few of the players and some difficulty getting around still, I don't see the floods having much of an effect on the on-field product. But it's definitely a memorable experience that should change the way a lot of those guys see the world.
Tony in Lincoln, Neb., writes: Hey Dave, Just curious. What's the best game you've ever seen/been to?
DU: Of the games I've ever seen, it's pretty close between the Texas-Southern Cal Rose Bowl and the Boise State-Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl. I probably said this about 100 times in the weeks following the game, but the best part of that is the hook-and-ladder never works. Ever. It's a great play in theory, but the execution and timing has such a small margin of error required for success, plus it needs a little luck from the defense's call. That makes it impossible to execute. Except that one time.
I also love the big-time clashes. There was just an unfair amount of talent on the field in that national title game between Texas and USC, two teams who 100 percent earned the right to be there. You don't get that with every national championship.
Matt Leinart, Vince Young, Reggie Bush, Jamaal Charles, Lendale White, Steve Smith, Fred Davis, Selvin Young and Limas Sweed are all factors in the NFL now, most of whom I've started on my fantasy teams at least once. And that's just the offenses. Can't forget Aaron Ross, Michael Griffin and Michael Huff in the Longhorns secondary alone. Brian Orakpo and Roy Miller also played down in front. It just doesn't get much better than two premiere programs and NFL factories going at it in a game of that magnitude that delivered the drama, even if you could see that final drive coming the whole time.
Of the game's I've covered, I'd probably go with the Kansas-Missouri Border Showdown at the end of the 2008 season. Gotta love rivalry games, and Kansas-Missouri has been one of the most dramatic in recent seasons. That game was no exception. A ton of offensive talent on the field during a blizzard at Arrowhead Stadium. It included four go-ahead touchdowns in the final seven minutes, and finished with a Todd Reesing floater over Kerry Meier's shoulder on -- what else -- a broken play. Classic game with a classic finish.
Young threw for over 3,000 yards that season, including 26 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions. He also ran for over 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season, carrying the ball 155 times for 12 touchdowns, including his most memorable score in the corner of the Rose Bowl end zone to best Bush and the Trojans in the national title game a month after the trophy had been handed out.
Point is, as the first-ever member (Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour joined him later) of the 3,000/1,000-yard club and the leader of a 12-0 Texas team, he was clearly a top-tier Heisman candidate historically, even if he didn't win.
But don't expect Young to be handed the vacated Heisman. The trophy is handled exclusively by the Heisman Trust, not the NCAA, and they've made no actions to suggest they'll demand the trophy be returned. They released a statement after the sanctions were handed out that said they would "issue a statement at the proper time." Yahoo! Sports reported on Tuesday that the trust will meet on July 27 to decide to trophy's fate, that USC's decision shocked them and would factor into their own decision.
Don't forget, two Heismans are handed out each year: one to the player and one to the school. Bush doesn't sound very eager to give his back -- or do anything for that matter. Not that there's much he can do, outside of handing the Heisman back to the trust unsolicited.
I've never seen the point of retroactive punishment. Nor am I a fan of the NCAA punishing (presumably) innocent athletes like Matt Barkley out in L.A. I'm not sure what the answer for proper punishment is; if I did, I'd propose it to the NCAA. It should involve the coaches, but when guys like Pete Carroll bolt to the NFL, the NCAA becomes powerless. But they have to do something ... and they did.
Erasing games and accomplishments from the record books doesn't erase the memories of those games and ceremonies. Taking the Heisman now would be meaningless, the trophy hollow, with apologies to Texas fans waiting to trumpet the program's third Heisman winner.
Young should issue a statement and, without mentioning Bush by name, say he doesn't want the Heisman. It'd be a nice bit of PR for a guy whose made his share of bad off-the-field headlines -- especially in the past month.
Vacate it or let Reggie keep it should be the only two options. There's not a strong contingent of folks fighting for Matt Leinart to join Archie Griffin as the only two-time winners, or to let fourth-place finisher Brady Quinn, who earned 191 points in the vote to Bush's 2,541 join the Heisman fraternity. Not to mention the obvious absurdity of giving the trophy to Bush's teammate at USC in this case. It's worth noting that Young received 1,609 points, but Bush had 784 first-place votes to Young's 79.
Getting the stiff-armer in the mail won't erase anyone's memory of the ceremony when it was first awarded. It won't take away any of the spectacular runs by Bush that paced the Trojans to the championship game.
Stepping out in front of and taking the pressure off the Heisman Trust and Bush would, at the very least, be a noble gesture.
I've got a game we can play as we get ready for Saturday and I'm curious about readers' thoughts.
Here is a list of the former Big 12 players on Super Bowl rosters. Their playing status is based on the most recent team depth chart released by NFL.com.
SS Melvin Bullitt (Texas A&M), starter.
G Ryan Lilja (Kansas State), starter.
T Charlie Johnson (Oklahoma State), starter.
CB Jacob Lacey (Oklahoma State), backup.
DE Keyunta Dawson (Texas Tech), backup.
LS Justin Snow (Baylor), starter.
LB Cody Glenn (Nebraska), backup.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
G Carl Nicks (Nebraska), starter.
OLB Scott Shanle (Nebraska), starter.
TE David Thomas (Texas), backup.
K Garrett Hartley (Oklahoma), starter.
DT Remi Ayodele (Oklahoma), starter.
C Nick Leckey (Kansas State), backup.
QB Chase Daniel (Missouri), backup.
T Jammal Brown (Oklahoma), injured reserve.
TE Dan Campbell (Texas A&M), injured reserve.
MLB Mark Simoneau (Kansas State), injured reserve.
WR D'Juan Woods (Oklahoma State), injured reserve.
From one through five, I'm curious which Big 12 alumnus will have the biggest impact in the Super Bowl.
Here are my choices:
1. Indianapois SS Melvin Bullitt: He'll have to bring a physical, punishing presence to the Colts' secondary to keep the New Orleans receivers and Reggie Bush from running wild.
2. New Orleans G Carl Nicks: New Orleans needs to run the ball effectively to have a chance in springing the upset. Nicks is the Saints' best run-blocker and will be important in moving the pile for them.
3. Indianapolis CB Jacob Lacey: For some strange reason, I have the feeling that Lacey will be a big part of this game. I think Drew Brees will test him early and often and he'll have a chance to make some plays -- or be burned.
4. New Orleans K Garrett Hartley: He won the NFC Championship Game with a clutch kick in overtime. Who's to say he won't have another chance for another big kick or two in Sunday's game?
5. New Orleans TE David Thomas: Brees' second tight end has been a consistent and clutch third-down receiver all season. If this game is a shootout, he'll likely get a lot of playing time.
Those are my picks. How about yours?
WHO TO WATCH: Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
Texas’ hopes in springing an upset over the Crimson Tide will rely on McCoy, who will be gunning to make history in his final college game. McCoy’s numbers in his senior season have been good, but not what he expected coming into the season. His most recent struggles -- a three-interception, nine-sack performance in the Big 12 title game against Nebraska -- should serve as inspiration for a better title-game performance. He'll be facing an even more imposing defense at the Rose Bowl in Alabama, and will have to be at his sharpest to help his team win. It will be important for McCoy not only to pass the ball strongly, but also to make some early plays with his feet to neutralize Alabama’s defensive pressure and help give his team some early confidence after their offensive struggles in their last game. If he can do that, the Longhorns might have a puncher’s chance of pulling an upset.
WHAT TO WATCH: Texas’ run defense against Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram
Alabama’s hopes of emerging victorious will be dictated by winning the game in the trenches and providing some running opportunities against Texas’ defensive front. The Longhorns aren’t the biggest team along the defensive front, but have done a good job of stifling opposing running games with a mixture of speed and talent. Crimson Tide players say that defensive style reminds them of their own team. But it will be key for Ingram to effectively run the ball, keeping Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy in manageable down-and-distance situations where he is less susceptible to turnovers. Ingram will challenge the Longhorns inside, trying to do something that no other team has done this season. The Longhorns haven’t allowed an opposing player to run for more than 100 yards. Texas' chances of winning will be much better if it can keep the bullish tailback in check.
WHY WATCH: The national championship game has been a recent nightmare for No. 1 teams
The top-ranked teams haven't played well in recent national title games. The No. 2 team has won the past four games over the No. 1 team and claimed six of the past seven games. Heisman Trophy winners like Sam Bradford, Troy Smith and Reggie Bush all have similarly struggled as their teams lost their national championship games, which might not bode well for Ingram. The Longhorns already feel emboldened after their previous success in their last two BCS bowl victories in Pasadena. Collectively, that run of recent history might help propel another underdog to an upset Thursday night if the Longhorns can produce a few breaks.
PREDICTION: For the past month, naysayers have knocked Texas for its struggles in the Big 12 title game and wondered if the Longhorns really deserve to be playing for the national championship. That inspiration to prove doubters wrong, however, will only last so long against a team that is as talented as Alabama in running the ball and playing strong defense. The star-studded Alabama team is dotted with a record six members on the Associated Press’ All-America team. Coach Nick Saban’s grinding scheme isn’t pretty, but should have enough talent to gradually wear the Longhorns down. Texas’ upset hopes will be predicated on big plays from McCoy and a couple of breaks along the way. The Longhorns have the speed to take advantage of Alabama’s season-long struggles covering kickoffs. And if they can win that phase of the game, their chances of an upset will be much better.
But the thought here is that the Crimson Tide will be able to dominate a Texas offense that has struggled against the better defenses it has faced all season. Look for Ingram’s running to wear the Longhorns down, scoring a late touchdown to clinch the game and take their first national championship since 1992 back to the Capstone. Alabama 24, Texas 13.
David sent Colt McCoy a message last Saturday night similar to one that was delivered to Vince Young in 2005 when he finished second behind USC's Reggie Bush.
"I told Vince he was my Heisman winner," Davis said. "And I sent one to Colt, too, where he was my Heisman winner."
And like Young five years ago, McCoy answered the text with a short declaration as he gets ready for a chance to beat the team with the eventual winner of the Heisman.
"I answered the way I felt," said McCoy, who answered like Young: "Game On."
McCoy was thought to be the Heisman leader after a strong performance against Texas A&M in the Nov. 26 regular-season finale. But he struggled through a nine-sack, three-interception performance in the Big 12 championship game against Nebraska.
Those struggles helped contribute to him finishing third this season behind winner Mark Ingram of Alabama and second-place finisher Toby Gerhart of Stanford.
McCoy finished second last season behind Sam Bradford of Oklahoma.
"I think last year was a lot more disappointing than this year," McCoy said. "I was fine afterwards this year because I know how much more we have to play for.
"The only disappointing thing was that I was disappointed for my teammates that I couldn't bring it home for them. Every award is a team award and for the most part we did pretty good. But I wasn't upset."
But whether he uses the disappointment to fuel his competitiveness might be a different story.
"I might use it as a little motivation," McCoy said. "But other than that, I know how much more we have to play for. That was really what was on my the whole trip."
It's not exactly like McCoy's trophy case will be barren. He claimed his second Walter Camp Football Foundation Player of the Year Award and also was named the winner of the Maxwell Award, the Davey O'Brien Award and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
But a bigger goal remains the crystal ball presented to the national championship team after the Jan. 7 Citi Bowl Championship Series game.
"The most special thing is getting to play for a national championship," McCoy said.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Title-game clash of the titans remains the Big 12's game for the ages
Date: Jan. 4, 2006
Place: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
Score: Texas 41, USC 38
After sorting through the moments that have made the Big 12's history so rich, the most memorable one was easy for me to pick.
|Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire|
|Vince Young threw for 267 yards and ran for 200 more.|
All I had to do was think back to the greatest championship game in any sport that I've ever seen.
Admittedly, those are some strong words. But anybody who witnessed Vince Young's game-winning performance that night at the Rose Bowl against No. 1 USC would have to agree.
Young accounted for a Rose Bowl-record 467 yards, running for 200 yards and passing for 267 more. His 8-yard touchdown run with only 19 seconds left brought home the first undisputed national championship to Texas in 36 years, capping a wild 41-38 victory.
And making it even sweeter for the Longhorns, the victory snapped the 34-game winning streak of a team that was judged as the greatest modern dynasty in recent college football history. USC had two Heisman Trophy winners in its starting backfield in Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush and scads of NFL-quality talent.
The game that preceded Young's late heroics only made the ending that much more unforgettable.
The Trojans and Longhorns combined for 60 first downs, 1,130 yards of total offense and only four punts. But in the end, a defensive play was the most pivotal in the game.
USC was poised to wrap up the game, nursing a 38-33 lead. On a fourth-and-2 from his own 45-yard line, USC coach Pete Carroll gambled and tried to deliver a kill shot by calling a dive play by LenDale White.
But White was turned away inches short of the first down when he was met by Texas safety Michael Huff and defensive tackle Rod Wright among others.
That provided the opening for Texas' game-winning drive that started with 2:09 left. The Longhorns received a big break when USC defensive back Darnell Bing was flagged for a face-mask penalty after tackling Quan Cosby five yards short of a first down on third-and-12, giving Texas a first down.
Young then accounted for the next 33 yards on runs and passes to give the Longhorns a first down at the USC 13 with 50 seconds left. But after a 5-yard run sandwiched around two incomplete passes intended for Limas Sweed, the Longhorns were looking at a fourth-and-5 from the Trojan 8.
The Trojans gambled with a determined blitz, but Young scooted past them. And thanks to a crunching block from Texas right tackle Justin Blaylock, Young sped toward the right end zone in a serpentine path to the game-winning touchdown.
After Young converted a two-point play, USC had one more chance. Leinart and Bush hooked up on a 27-yard pass that pushed the ball to the Texas 42 for the final play. But Leinart's pass intended for Dwayne Jarrett sailed over his head at the Texas 25 to preserve the wild victory.
USC seemingly moved the ball at will early in the game, piling up a Rose Bowl-record 574 yards in the game. The Trojans struck first barely 2 minutes into the game on a 4-yard touchdown run by White to cap a 46-yard drive.
They were poised to score again when Bush snagged a 37-yard screen pass from Leinart on the second play of the second quarter. But the Heisman Trophy winner inexplicably attempted a sideways pitch to unprepared teammate Brad Walker. Huff fell on the loose ball and the Longhorns took control for the rest of the half.
Texas erupted for 16 straight points, scoring on its next three drives.
The binge started with a 46-yard field goal by David Pino, followed by a 10-yard option touchdown keeper by Young on a disputed play where his knee appeared to hit the ground. And Ramonce Taylor's 30-yard touchdown run extended the lead to 16-7 with 2:34 left in the half.
USC pulled within 16-10 on Mario Danelo's 43-yard field goal with two seconds left in the half. It was the fourth time during the season the Trojans trailed at the break.
A 3-yard scoring run by White enabled USC to reclaim the lead, capping a 62-yard scoring drive after Texas had been forced to punt to start the fourth quarter. But Young responded with a 14-yard touchdown run barely two minutes later to boost Texas back ahead at 23-17.
White's 12-yard scoring run boosted the Trojans back into a 24-23 lead after three quarters.
The Trojans' star power then took over. Bush raced on a spectacular 26-yard touchdown run, punctuated by a somersault in the end zone to boost the Trojans lead to eight with 11:19 left.
And after Pino added 34-yard field goal with 8:46 on the ensuing possession, USC's big-play offense struck again. Leinart whistled a 22-yard touchdown strike to Jarrett with 6:42 left to boost the Trojans' lead to 38-26, capping a four-play, 80-yard drive.
But Young was only getting started. He completed 5 of 6 passes and rushed twice for 25 yards on the next drive, capping the possession with a 17-yard scoring scamper that pulled Texas within 38-33 with 4:26 left.
And after his game-winning drive, the excitement from that ending still resonates to that day.
They said it, part I: "We never, ever, really thought we'd lose the ballgame," Texas coach Mack Brown, after his team's dramatic comeback.
They said it, part II: "You couldn't ask for anything better. This was a great football game. We gave our hearts, they gave their hearts and they came out on top." USC quarterback Matt Leinart on the disappointment of losing his final college game.
They said it, part III: "We couldn't stop them when we had to. Their quarterback ran all over the place. This is their night. It was wonderful doing what we've been doing. But we just didn't get it done tonight," USC coach Pete Carroll, on the end of the Trojans' 34-game winning streak.
They said it, part IV: "I still think we're a better football team. They just made the plays in the end." Leinart on Texas' late comeback.
They said it, part V: "The quarterback just ran all over the place. He's a fantastic player. He was the difference. And how classic was it that he ran it in on the last play?" Carroll on Vince Young's late heroics.
They said it, part VI: "Everybody showed so much heart on both sides of the ball. I said all week that it would come down to the last play of the game and it did," Texas quarterback Vince Young on his late-game heroics.
They said it, part VII: "We have Vince Young on the show tonight. We were able to do something USC couldn't do, we grabbed him," Tonight Show host Jay Leno, in his monologue when Young appeared on his show several days after the game.
Factoids: Texas' conquest marked the second Rose Bowl comeback in as many years by Young, who orchestrated a 38-37 triumph over Michigan to account for Texas' first BCS bowl victory the previous season ... Bush accounted for 82 rushing yards and grabbed six passes for 95 yards ... Leinart completed 29 of 40 passes for 365 yards with one interception and was sacked three times ... Young was
30-of-40 passing for 267 yards ... Michael Huff earned game defensive MVP honors with 12 tackles, a fumble recovery and a tackle for loss ... On Young's controversial touchdown run in the second quarter, the play could not be renewed because of a malfunction for the monitor needed to supply different angles to the replay crew .... Both teams finished with 30 first downs, but USC had a 574-556 edge in total yardage. ... USC's 34-game winning streak that ended with the loss was tied for the sixth-longest in FBS history. The Texas victory was the 800th in school history ... It was the first time that Texas had beaten a No. 1 ranked team since defeating Oklahoma on Oct. 12, 1963.
The upshot: Young's heroics helped boost his record as a starting quarterback to 30-2, finishing with a national championship. He decided to turn pro, informing Brown of his decision four days later.
Texas finished the season No. 1 with a 20-game winning streak. It was the Longhorns' first outright national championship since 1969. And it marked a share of their fourth national championship after claiming titles in 1963, 1969, and a shared one in 1970 with Nebraska.
The Longhorns would stretch their winning streak to 21 games before losing at home to Ohio State in the second game of the 2006 season. That represents Texas' second-longest winning streak in school history, behind only a 30-game streak from 1968-70.
USC has won 34 of their next 39 games since the Texas loss, including Rose Bowl victories to finish each season since then. The Rose Bowl loss to Texas is the only time Carroll has lost a bowl game from 2002 to the present. USC has gone 6-1 in bowl games during that period.
2. Michael Crabtree's last-second grab stuns Texas
3. Superman's leap. Roy Williams' tipped pass punctuates titantic defensive battle.
4. Davison's dramatic grab keeps Cornhuskers' national title hopes alive.
5. Bamboozled again and again and again. Boise State's gadget plays doom OU.
6. Yes, Sirr. Parker's dramatic catches lead A&M to first Big 12 title
7. Crouch's TD catch cements Heisman bid, beats Oklahoma
8. Sproles and Roberson stun top-ranked OU, leading KSU to its first Big 12 title.
9. Emotional A&M victory brings closure after Bonfire tragedy.
10. Roll left: James Brown guarantees victory and then backs it up.
11. When BCS meant "Boo Chris Simms" in Colorado's first Big 12 title.
12. A Buffalo stampede: Six Chris Brown TDs lead CU to first Big 12 title game.
13. Run, Ricky, run. Ricky Williams breaks NCAA career rushing record.
14. Wild game, wilder post-game rants when Gundy and Leach meet in 2007.
15. Rout 66: No, that score wasn't a typo.
16. KSU finally slays the Cornhuskers.
17. Kingsbury and Long hook up in a passing duel for the ages.
18. Henery and Suh make Colorado blue.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
22. A Texas-sized comeback -- Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest -- Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" against UNLV in 1999.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
|AP Photo/Matt Slocum|
|Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford hopes to avoid the same fate as other Heisman winners playing for the national title.|
Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford will be hoping for better luck than most of his predecessors in the BCS national championship game tonight.
Of the six Heisman Trophy winners in the era, which began in 1998, only one has emerged as victorious in the national championship game.
Here's a look at how those Heisman winners have fared in those games
- Chris Weinke, Florida State -- 2001 Orange Bowl -- Lost 13-2 to Oklahoma. Completed 25 of 51 passes for 274 yards with two interceptions and no touchdown passes. Rushed four times for 7 yards.
- Eric Crouch, Nebraska -- 2002 Rose Bowl -- Lost 37-14 to Miami. Completed 5 of 15 passes for 62 yards with one interception and no touchdown passes. Rushed 22 times for 114 yards.
- Jason White, Oklahoma -- 2004 Sugar Bowl -- Lost 21-14 to LSU. Completed 13 of 37 passes for 102 yards with two interceptions and no touchdown passes. Rushed seven times for minus-46 yards.
- Matt Leinart, USC -- 2005 Orange Bowl - Won 55-19 to Oklahoma. Completed 18 of 35 passes for 332 yards with no interceptions and five touchdown passes. Rushed two times for minus-11 yards.
- Reggie Bush, USC -- 2006 Rose Bowl -- Lost 41-38 to Texas. Rushed 13 times for 82 yards and a touchdown. Caught six passes for 95 yards.
- Troy Smith, Ohio State -- 2007 BCS National Championship Game -- Lost 41-14 to Florida. Completed 4 of 14 passes for 37 yards with one interception and no touchdown passes. Rushed 10 times for minus-29 yards.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are a few factoids about Oklahoma's bowl history as we get ready for tonight's FedEx BCS National Championship Game against Florida.
Bowl record: 24-16-1
Current bowl streak: Lost 2
Most memorable bowl victory: Bud Wilkinson directed his team to the 1956 Orange Bowl, wrapping up the first time that the Sooners ever finished the season with a bowl championship and a national championship in the same season. After spotting Maryland a six-point halftime lead, the Sooners charged back to claim a 20-6 victory by scoring the game's final 20 points. Quarterback Tommy Harris rushed for a team-high 50 yards to pace the victory as the Sooners forced five turnovers and limited the Terrapins to nine first downs and 233 total yards.
Most disappointing loss: An explosive offense keyed by Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush enabled USC to dominate the Sooners in a 55-19 loss that ranks as the largest margin of defeat in an Oklahoma bowl game and also for a loser in a BCS title game. Leinart threw for 332 yards and five touchdowns and LenDale White rushed for 118 and two touchdowns to lead the Trojans to their first national championship under Pete Carroll. Oklahoma scored the first touchdown but the Trojans blew the game open by scoring 28 straight points midway through the first half.
Best individual bowl performance: Marcus Dupree rushed for 239 and had the Sooners ahead in the 1983 Fiesta Bowl until he was sidelined with leg injuries that kept him from playing in the rest of the game. Arizona State took advantage of his departure to claim a 32-21 victory over the Sooners, despite Oklahoma rolling up 417 rushing yards.
Record against Florida: First meeting.
Common 2008 opponents: None.
The number: 7. National championship won by Oklahoma in school history - more than any team in the Big 12.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
|Ronald Martinez/Getty Images|
|Chris Brown leads the Sooners in rushing with 1,110 yards .|
But the steadiness of the underrated Oklahoma rushing leader is the main reason why Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson expects the Sooners to overcome playing without Murray in the FedEx Bowl Championship Series National Championship without many troubles.
"The one guy [Murray] has flash and the other guy [Brown] is just a pit bulldog," Wilson said. "He's just a grinder who comes to work every single day. What you see is what you get, and from him it's pretty good."
Brown led the Sooners in rushing with 1,110 yards and ranked sixth nationally with 20 touchdowns. He will be counted on, along with backup Mossis Madu, to replace the loss of Murray, who ruptured a tendon in his left hamstring on the opening kickoff of the Big 12 championship game and will miss Thursday's game.
The loss of Murray, who rushed for 1,002 yards during the regular season, might be expected to cripple the Sooners with the loss of their top long-distance threat.
Instead, it has only inspired Brown of the opportunity he has playing against the Gators.
Brown compares his running style and Murray's with the vaunted USC rushing game of the 2004 national championship team.
"I don't really like to compare me and DeMarco because we're good friends," Brown said. "But we're two different players. You see him making flashy cuts a little bit like Reggie Bush. I'll take that I'm like LenDale White. DeMarco can make something small into a big play. But I feel I'm more patient and willing to waiting on things to develop. You could call me the conservative runner on our team. "
The ability of Brown and Madu was best shown in the Big 12 title game after Murray went down. Brown rushed for 122 yards on 27 carries and scored three touchdowns and Madu chipped with a career-best 114 yards on 15 carries and three more scores to spark a 62-21 blowout over Missouri.
|Jesse Beals/Icon SMI|
|Mossis Madu (17) will be needed to step up after the loss of DeMarco Murray to an injury.|
Center Jon Cooper said that both remaining backs have the ability to be prime producers against the Gators, who ranked 16th nationally against the rush.
"DeMarco was a little flashier and he would try to make people miss where Chris just runs through them," Cooper said. "And Mossis is a combination of both. He hits the hole about as hard as anybody we've got. I don't know how fast he is, but he's pretty fast. And he's got the balance of Chris and the flashiness of DeMarco."
Florida players have noticed the strength and depth of the Sooners' running game. It makes them concerned about stopping Oklahoma's potent attack even with Murray out of the lineup.
"I don't think not having Murray will slow them down at all," Florida safety Ahmad Black said. "They have another one who comes off the bench who's almost as good. They rotate all of them out there. I don't think they'll take a step back at all. It will be a challenge to stop them."
Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Sam Bradford knows that balance will be important for his team's hopes to claim its first national championship since the 2001 Orange Bowl. Along with Tulsa, Oklahoma is the only team to rank in the top 20 nationally in rushing, passing, total offense and scoring.
And Bradford is convinced the Sooners still can consistently move the ball against Florida with their remaining players -- even without Murray.
"Obviously, DeMarco is a big part of our offense and we're going to miss him," Bradford said. "But I think that Mossis and Chris both are very good running backs and we're not going to lose much with them being in there.
"Running the ball like we did in the Big 12 championship game gives us a lot of confidence in what they can do. We see it from Mossis every day in practice and the Big 12 championship was just the first opportunity for him to show everybody else how good he is. It didn't surprise us how he played. And we expect him and Chris to come out and play well again."
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are some letters I've received over the last several days about Big 12 happenings.
Ashtyn from Jefferson City, Mo., writes: Which has a better chance of happening? The Big 12 going 7-0 or the Big Ten going 0-7 in the bowl season?
Tim Griffin: Actually, I don't see either happening. For some reason, it wouldn't surprise me if Wisconsin upsets Florida State in a battle between two underachieving teams. And I think that Iowa might be ready to play against South Carolina, too.
And in the Big 12, I think that Oklahoma and Nebraska both will have difficulty pulling off upsets in their bowl games against Florida and Clemson, respectively. It wouldn't be impossible, but I think both will be pushed to do it. I beleive Oklahoma is going to miss DeMarco Murray more than most people might think.
T. Broyles from Austin writes: First off, I wanted to tell you that your blog is amazing. But let's get down to the point. I won't ramble on about who I think is better between Texas and Oklahoma, but let's pretend that Texas made it to the national championship game against Florida. I believe Oklahoma will have a tough time beating UF, but do you think Texas would have a harder time beating them? If you could drop a final score between Texas and UF, what would it be?
Tim Griffin: First, thanks for your nice compliments about the blog. I think that Texas will face similar problems that Oklahoma does. Mainly, their secondary and defense will be facing a big test in trying to control Percy Harvin and Tim Tebow. And both teams would be challenged to control Florida's fast and active front seven on defense. Texas might have even more trouble because I don't think its running game is as good as Oklahoma's. So if the Longhorns got behind, I think they would be one-dimensional against Florida's fierce pass rush.
But in the end, I would make the Gators slight favorites over both Big 12 teams. And I think Florida would win both games by a score of, say, 35-31.
Jim from Grand Junction, Colo., writes: Tim, I don't know if you follow recruiting closely, but perhaps you can answer this. I've noticed on the recruiting sites that Colorado has only eight signed recruits. Most already have 20-plus recruits. Why is the Colorado number so low? Are they on NCAA sanctions or what? Thanks.
Tim Griffin: Colorado has a different philosophy than many schools with only eight recruits so far. But coach Dan Hawkins prefers to add to his classes later in the recruiting season. He has told Colorado reporters he plans to have 20-22 recruits in his class this season, so I wouldn't expect anything too strange at this point.
M. Holliday from New Braunfels, Texas, writes: I know this is subjective but Colt McCoy at number 11 in your poll of the best players in the Big 12 invalidates and removes subjectivity and borders on lunacy!
Tim Griffin: I appreciate your concerns, but the opinions I made were based strictly on my own opinions after talking to some of my friends in professional scouting. They actually had McCoy ranked a little lower than I ranked him. But it's interesting to see how different people value different kinds of players. I guess that's why some teams like the Tennessee Titans always seem to play well with players who were presumed to be borderline talents. And others like the Detroit Lions continually struggle despite continually getting top players in the draft every season.
But it has been interesting to see how different fans of different schools have taken personal umbrage with these lists. C'mon, lighten up. It was developed to merely to provoke some meaningful discourse about the Big 12.
And I can assure you it has certainly done that!
Zac F. from Houston writes: Hey, Tim, I'm a big fan of your blog, but I'm curious with Oklahoma losing some of its big men up front that this would affect the big numbers that their passing game has been generating?
Tim Griffin: Zac, I think you might be onto something. Something tells me that Sam Bradford might be more worried about the departure of senior starting offensive linemen Phil Loadholt, Duke Robinson, Jon Cooper and Brandon Walker than any of his receivers.
The Sooners do have some talent along the offensive line, but it will take time to develop. And it remains to be seen if this young group will grow up with Bradford or a new quarterback.
Ray from Hanford, Calif., writes: Now that its official and Jordan Shipley has a sixth year, how do you think Texas will do next season? With the emergence of Malcolm Williams late this season, does Texas have a 1-2 punch at receiver to work along with Colt McCoy?
Tim Griffin: Most definitely. I think that Williams and Shipley potentially might be one of the best receiving duos in the conference. And the expected return of Blaine Irby at tight end will only strengthen that group. It's one of the biggest reasons I think the Longhorns are the team to beat in the Big 12 South heading into the 2009 season.
Chris from Austin writes: Great job on the blog, it's become my go-to for any time I want Big 12 news. I feel that the "curse" of the Heisman isn't really a curse, it's mostly caused by the media tour that follows after a winner is announced and all of the practice that you miss. But how much preparation time does the Heisman winner actually miss on average?
Tim Griffin: Chris, a Heisman winner usually doesn't miss much practice time with his team. It's basically some of the conditioning that players take care of themselves before reporting back to practice after exams finish up. Heisman winners typically are stuck on the rubber chicken circuit when all that is going on.
I think an even bigger factor is that opposing teams zero in on a player with much national notoriety like a Heisman Trophy winner. It's a big reason why Heisman winners are 2-6 in their bowl games since 2000.
And if you want to impress your friends, know the only Heisman Trophy winners who have won during that eight-season period in the bowls were USC's Matt Leinart (over Oklahoma in the 2005 Orange Bowl) and USC's Carson Palmer (over Iowa in the 2003 Orange Bowl). Leinart is also the last Heisman winner to win a national championship in the same season as his Heisman. Recent losing Heisman winners in order have included Reggie Bush, Troy Smith and Tebow last season.
I wish a blessed and peaceful holiday season to all of my readers. Enjoy the times with your family and I'll look forward to more cards and e-mails after the holidays are over.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis received text messages from quarterbacks Vince Young and Colt McCoy after both finished second in their Heisman Trophy balloting.
While McCoy's was a little more suitable for family reading, Davis said the message from his current quarterback was just as determined as the one from Young, who led his team to the national championship after finishing second in the 2005 Heisman balloting behind Reggie Bush.
McCoy's snub has brought back some extra motivation for the Longhorns' Jan. 5 Fiesta Bowl game against Ohio State after finishing behind Sam Bradford of Oklahoma for the Heisman last week.
"With Vince in '05 I got a text shortly after the announcement and I can't relay exactly what he said because you guys write for children," Davis said. "But it basically said 'Coach let's get ready.'
"But I got another from Colt and his I can tell you about. I think there's something there because they are both such competitors."
McCoy said he told Davis he plans to use the Heisman vote to come back next year more prepared in his senior season.
"I just said everything happens for a reason," McCoy said. "God has a plan for me and this team. It's obvious I don't need to win it until next year."
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
One of the examples of how inexact the science of recruiting is can be found playing at Northwest Missouri State these days.
Once-heralded recruit Lawrence "Moe" Dampeer is making a contribution to the Division I-AA Bearcats, trying to get close to his playing weight.
It wasn't that way too long ago. Dampeer once was one of the most highly regarded prospects of the 2003 recruiting class, along with players like Kyle Wright, Reggie Bush, JaMarcus Russell and Mario Williams. Dampeer chose to go to Oklahoma over scholarship offers from Illinois, Ohio State and Miami.
After redshirting in 2003, Dampeer played eight games for the Sooners in 2004 as a 300-pound defensive tackle. He had 10 tackles for the season, including five tackles for losses, three pass deflections and an interception. Dampeer played for the Sooners in the Orange Bowl that year and showed flashes of becoming a dominant defensive lineman, but couldn't keep up with the team's "voluntary workouts." He ended up at Joliet Junior College, where he last saw action in 2005.
From there he bounced to Northwest Missouri State, with a big jump in weight along the way. Today, he's working out for the Bearcats where he's listed at 375 pounds. The Maryville (Mo.) Daily Forum reported recently that Dampeer actually may be closer to 450 pounds as he tries to get into shape to play again.
Dampeer has occasionally shown flashes of his speed and lateral movement that still might get him noticed by NFL scouts -- if he can ever round into shape.
"Moe is a conditioning thing," Northwestern State coach Mel Tjeerdsma told the Daily Forum. "He'll make a few plays, but he can't sustain anything right now. But that's why you scrimmage. That's why you do these things."
It remains to be seen whether Dampeer can find his playing condition again. But if he does, I'm sure a professional team will give him a playing opportunity because nose tackles might be among the rarest of all football commodities.
While developing a list of the top 12 non-conference matchups Thursday, I began thinking about ideal matchups for different schools across the conference.
If I were king of college football and could mandate opponents for different Big 12 teams, here are some of the choices I'd make and my reasoning. Let me know what you think, and if you could come up with better ones.
Baylor -- How about Vanderbilt? What could be better than watching two schools that face similar difficulties from the nation's toughest conferences? Both are private schools and have the benefit of strong coaches. It would be an entertaining game.
Colorado -- I originally thought Air Force would work because of the geographical proximity. But a better choice, I think, is UCLA, so we could watch Rick Neuheisel squaring off against his old team. And the two programs are relatively equal, which should make for some real competition on the field.
Iowa State -- You could argue for Florida and a return of Dan McCarney to Ames. But a better, more entertaining game would be to match the Cyclones against Minnesota. The two schools are relatively close and are at about the same levels in their respective conferences. You could bet that Mack Brown would be watching the matchup of his old protégés Gene Chizik and Tim Brewster.
Kansas -- ESPN has liked matching the coaching wiles and offenses of Mark Mangino and Toledo's Tom Amstutz in the past. But a better matchup would be to let Mangino call plays against Joe Paterno and Penn State. Jayhawks fans are still grouchy about how the 1969 Orange Bowl finished up. It would be kind of neat to see a rematch -- even if it's nearly 40 years later.
Kansas State -- Give me the Wildcats and Fresno State, the school they ducked earlier this season. I don't know what Ron Prince is afraid of. His Wildcats would match up very favorably with the Bulldogs.
Missouri -- There was a lot of bluster emanating out of Iowa City a couple of years ago when the Tigers and Iowa abruptly cancelled a series of upcoming games. But things have changed since then. The Tigers are white-hot and the Hawkeyes have taken a big step back. Let's see them finally play.
Nebraska -- It's hard to think of many for the Cornhuskers, who have played virtually every great national program in the past. I'd like to see them challenge South Carolina right now. I know that Steve Spurrier hasn't forgotten that 62-24 bludgeoning his Florida Gators endured at the hands of the Cornhuskers in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl. And the coaching battle between Spurrier and Bo Pelini would be delicious.
Oklahoma -- I used to think seeing Bob Stoops match wits with Spurrier would be neat. But a better matchup might feature the Sooners against Florida -- a game between two of the nation's most talented programs in recent history.
Oklahoma State -- It might be kind of cool to see the Cowboys square off with Les Miles' LSU team or the Southern Mississippi team now coached by Larry Fedora. But a better game -- and definitely more anticipated media scrum afterward -- would be to see the Cowboys meet Michigan State and Coach Mark Dantonio. The game would be close on the field and the fireworks after the game with Mike Gundy and Dantonio might be better than the game before it.
Texas -- After watching a BCS title game that lived up to the hype (and more), I could watch Texas against USC every day for the rest of my life. These two programs really should play more often, even if Vince Young and Reggie Bush don't have any eligibility remaining.
Texas A&M -- The rivalry for recruiting in East Texas is pretty intense and I think it would be kind of fun to see the Aggies hook up against Les Miles and LSU. The two old rivals played 49 times between 1899 and their most recent skirmish in 1995. It would be good to see them playing again.
Texas Tech -- Mike Leach once roamed the sidelines at BYU, where he intently watched coach LaVell Edwards' practices as a student. Those early sessions enabled him to glean some of the bedrock principles for his passing offense. Who says you can't go home again? A game between the Red Raiders and the Cougars would provide the kind of offense that fans dream about.
Let me know what you think and suggest some other potential dream non-conference games. I'll let others know about your choices.