By Jeff Merron
Page 2

Ohio State
Everyone stayed up late to see if the Mighty Canes would go down.

2003 Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 Ohio State (13-0) 31, No. 1 Miami (12-0) 24 (2 OT)
It was a game that turned out to have three thrilling finishes. The first: with three seconds left in regulation, Ohio State led 17-14, and forced a 40-yard Miami field-goal attempt. Miami kicker Todd Sievers got it just barely straight enough to force the game into OT. The second: Trailing 24-17 after a great TD catch by Kellen Winslow Jr., it looked like Ohio State had lost after an incomplete pass on fourth-and-3. But Miami was called for pass interference, and Buckeye QB Craig Krenzel QB-sneaked the game into a second OT. The third: Maurice Clarett put Ohio State up with a 5-yard run in the second OT, but the Hurricanes followed with a drive to fourth-and-goal at the Buckeyes one. Miami QB Ken Dorsey, who had missed the third-down play after getting hit on second down (backup Derrick Crudup completed an 8-yard pass), re-entered with the season on the line. Incomplete pass. Miami's 34-game winning streak was over. Ohio State's 34-year championship drought was over. And college football fans couldn't have had it any better.

Penn State
'83 was JoePa's turn to win it all.

1983 Sugar Bowl: No. 2 Penn State (10-1) 27, No. 1 Georgia (11-0) 23
For 32 years Joe Paterno walked the Penn State headlines, the previous 17 as head coach. He'd coached three teams that completed undefeated, untied seasons, but he'd never won a national title. But the Nittany Lions did the job on both sides of the line. On offense, RB Curt Warner and QB Todd Blackledge led the charge. Warner, despite cramps that kept him out for parts of the second half, ran for 117 yards on 18 carries. Blackledge completed 13 of 23 passes for 228 yards and one TD. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions' D mashed Herschel Walker, who could only muster 103 yards on 28 carries.

But it was, as the score indicates, a close game. Penn State went ahead 20-3 in the second quarter, but Georgia remained within distance into the fourth quarter. Trailing 27-17 with 5:38 remaining, Georgia QB John Lastinger capped a six-play, 43-yard drive with a 9-yard TD pass. But Penn State held on Walker's subsequent 2-point attempt, and the Nittany Lions then ran out the clock. Even with the win, it wasn't clear that Paterno would get his first title -- SMU had defeated Pitt 7-3 in the Cotton Bowl to finish an 11-0-1 campaign. After the game, Paterno said, "I hope nobody doubts we're No. 1 after today." Turned out nobody did, as Penn State topped the AP, UPI, National Football Foundation, and Football Writers Association polls. It was the first national championship in Penn State's 96-year gridiron history.


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