Glenn Guzzo

Texas Repeats As National Champion

In Strat-O-Matic Computer College Football Tournament

 

By Glenn Guzzo

 

            Unhappy with the Bowl Championship Series – again?

 

            Maybe you want a different pair in the final game. Maybe you want a four-team, eight-team or 16-team tournament instead. Maybe you’d like those January 1 bowl games to be meaningful again.

 

            You can have your way with Strat-O-Matic’s computer college football game, which allows you to set up your own tournament in a few minutes, with only the teams you want. Then, you can play the games manually (head to head, or you vs. the computer) or let the computer auto-play them.

 

            In a 16-team tournament of 2005 teams, Texas rumbled over three opponents, and then beat Penn State in a classic finale to duplicate their real national championship.

 

Seven of the tournament’s 15 games were decided by 10 points or less. Two of the Final Four teams were decided by a missed extra point and overtime. One player had 449 yards in a single game (it’s not who you think) and two teams combined for more than 1,000 yards in a different game. Two different players had three kick-return touchdowns in the tournament. Read all about it.

 

 

The Selection Process

 

            Wherever you draw the line, somebody will gripe about being left out, but the beauty of a 16-team tournament is that no one with a claim to the championship is omitted. All 0-loss, 1-loss and 2-loss Division 1-A teams got to play. A 16-team tourney also puts games with a bearing on the national championship in 15 different bowls.

 

            This tourney arbitrarily limited any conference to three teams. With Georgia, LSU and Alabama in, that left out Florida and Auburn (both 9-3).

 

            This tourney wasn’t committed to taking suspect conference champs (8-5 Florida State) or the runner-up winners of weak divisions (7-5 Colorado).

 

            If anyone had a gripe under this system it might have been Miami (9-3 including a 40-3 shellacking by LSU in the Peach Bowl), because the Hurricanes would have given the ACC a second team instead of a third team from the Big Ten (10-3 Wisconsin) or the Pac-10 (10-2 UCLA). Auburn, which beat Alabama in the 2005 regular season, when both finished 9-2, had a claim. But ‘Bama finished with the best post-bowl record and this tourney would allow it to use injured star wide receiver/kick returner Tyrone Prothro, who missed both Crimson Tide losses.

 

            The teams were seeded 1-16, and then re-seeded each round to match highest seed vs. lowest. All games were played on neutral fields.

 

 

 

The Seedings

 

Seedings reflected team strength at the end of the bowl season. First-round games also sought to avoid matching two teams from the same conference.

 

 

No. 1 Texas (13-0)                              vs.        No. 16 UCLA (10-2)

No. 2 Southern California (12-1)          vs.        No. 15 Texas Tech (9-3)

No. 3 Ohio State (10-2)                       vs.        No. 14 TCU (11-1)

No. 4 Penn State (11-1)                       vs.        No. 13 Alabama (10-2)

No. 5 West Virginia (11-1)                   vs.        No. 12 Wisconsin (10-3)

No. 6 Georgia (10-3)                           vs.        No. 11 Oregon (10-2)

No. 7 LSU (10-3)                                vs.        No. 10 Virginia Tech (11-2)

No. 8 Notre Dame (9-3)                      vs.        No. 9 Louisville (9-3)

 

First Round Results

 

Texas 44, UCLA 6

            Vince Young passed for two first-quarter TDs and Jamaal Charles ran for a pair of second-quarter scores as Texas built a 34-0 lead before half time. Key stat: Young hit 13 of 16 passes for a 200.1 passer rating.

 

Southern California 46, Texas Tech 14

            Matt Leinart passed for three TDs and Reggie Bush scored twice as USC had its way all day, building a 39-7 lead before bringing in the subs in the third quarter. Key stats: Leinhart had 267 yards and 3 TDs passing. Bush had 231 all-purpose yards.

 

TCU 31, Ohio State 23

            The shocker of the tournament occurred after the Buckeyes’ Josh Huston kicked his third field goal of the game to give Ohio State a 23-21 lead with 6:41 to play. TCU’s Cory Rodgers answered with an 85-yard kickoff-return touchdown, giving the Horned Frogs the lead for good, despite being out-gained, 418-216. Key stat: Buckeye QB Troy Smith passed for 244 yards, but threw three interceptions.

 

Penn State 33, Alabama 14

            Explosive Penn State RB Tony Hunt was held to 19 yards in 17 carries, but his two rushing touchdowns in the final 16 minutes broke open a close game. Alabama never led, but trailed only 20-14 when Hunt scored from 3 yards out in the final minute of the third quarter. Key stats: Penn State QB Marcus Robinson passed for 299 yards. Alabama’s Tyrone Prothro was confined to one catch for 4 yards and 31 return yards.

 

West Virginia 34, Wisconsin 31

            With Wisconsin concentrating on slippery West Virginia runners Steve Slaton and Pat White, Mountaineer FB Owen Schmitt ran 62 yards to a TD four minutes before halftime to give West Virginia a 17-10 lead that it would never relinquish. Slaton ran for two second-half scores and a 34-17 West Virginia lead. Brian Calhoun’s 11-yard run made it 34-31 with 1:22 to play, but the Mountaineers ran out the clock. Key stat: Slaton ran 23 times for 155 yards and 2 TDs.

 

Georgia 26, Oregon 0

            The Bulldogs forced five turnovers and kicker Brandon Coutu made all four of his field-goal attempts. Key stat: The Ducks had only 207 yards.

 

LSU 13, Virginia Tech 3

            LSU’s JaMarcus Russell threw three interceptions, but his 12-yard pass to Dwayne Bowe early in the fourth quarter scored the game’s only touchdown. Key stat: Tech reached the red zone only once.

 

Notre Dame 19, Louisville 14

            Down 14-13, Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn passed 8 yards to HB Darius Walker with 3:19 to play for the winning score. The Irish scored first on Tom Zbikowski’s 90-yard punt-return TD early in the first quarter. But Louisville, with a stingy run defense that limited Notre Dame to 1.9 yards per rush and scored a touchdown of its own on a fumble recovery, held the Irish without an offensive touchdown until the winning score. With a healthy QB Brian Brohm hitting 21 of 34 passes for 204 yards and a TD, Louisville grabbed its only lead midway through the fourth quarter. Key stat: Notre Dame held explosive RB Michael Bush to 61 yards on 20 carries.

 

Second Round Results

 

Texas 40, TCU 21

            Visions of upsets were dancing in Cory Rodgers’ feet, but his kick-return theatrics lasted only one half. With TCU leading 7-0, Texas’ David Pino kicked the first of his four field goals on the first play of the second quarter. Rodgers answered with an 85-yard kickoff-return TD, just as he did in the Round One upset of Ohio State. Texas drove to another Pino field goal and Rodgers replied with a 99-yard kickoff return TD and a 21-6 TCU lead at halftime. The superior Longhorns regrouped and mauled TCU 34-0 in the second half. Key stat: Rodgers had 449 all-purpose yards (363 on 9 kickoff returns) while his Horned Frogs managed just 201 yards of offense.

 

Notre Dame 45, Southern California 31

            Tom Zbikowski, whose 90-yard punt-return TD was huge in Notre Dame’s 19-14 victory over Louisville in Round One, took back punts for 71-yard and 88-yard TDs this time. The longer one midway through the fourth quarter sealed Notre Dame’s victory that avenged its dramatic regular-season loss to the Trojans. Key stat: 814 yards of offense. Matt Leinart passed for 296 yards and 3 TDs and LenDale White rushed for 136 for USC. Brady Quinn threw for 205 yards and 2 TDs and Darius Walker ran for 135 yards (and TD runs of 25 and 58 yards) for the Irish.

 

Penn State 23, LSU 22

            LSU placekicker Chris Jackson, who had already missed two field goals, missed the tying extra point with 1:15 to play, dousing LSU’s rousing comeback. Marcus Robinson’s passing (201 yards) and Tony Hunt’s running (125 yards) built a 23-9 lead before LSU scored on two JaMarcus Russell TD passes in the final four minutes, including a 62-yarder to Skyler Green with 1:15 to play. Key stat: 798 yards against two highly touted defenses. Penn State had 201 yards passing and 188 rushing. Russell had 245 yards passing and RB Joseph Addai had 145 rushing for LSU.

 

Georgia 20, West Virginia 17 (overtime)

            Georgia smothered West Virginia’s potent running game and the Bulldogs scored the final 13 points, including Brandon Coutu’s game-winning 36-yard field goal in overtime. The four touchdowns in this game came on explosive plays. West Virginia QB Pat White passed 74 and 80 yards for touchdowns to Brandon Myles – the only two passes Myles caught, for a nifty 77-yard average. They were sandwiched around Thomas Brown’s 66-yard touchdown run for Georgia. Down 17-10, the Bulldogs tied with game with 2:27 to play in regulation on Danny Ware’s 30-yard run. Key stat: Georgia held West Virginia to 107 yards rushing (3.0 per carry) and held a 22-9 advantage in first downs.

 

Final Four

 

Texas 62, Notre Dame 31

            Vince Young passed for three touchdowns and ran for two more as Texas crushed Notre Dame in a game featuring 1,005 yards of offense. This game was never close, as Texas led 17-0, 34-14 at halftime and 55-17 early in the fourth quarter. Key stat: Notre Dame was helpless defensively, yielding 570 yards. Young had a 219 passer rating while out-passing Brady Quinn 283 yards to 282. And Texas ran for 277 yards at 6.9 per carry. LSU thinks it could have done better.

 

Penn State 34, Georgia 6

            Penn State scored touchdowns and Georgia kicked field goals in the first half, then the Nittany Lions did all the scoring (20-0) after intermission. RBs Tony Hunt and Austin Scott combined for 198 yards rushing on 29 carries and scored three touchdowns. Key stat: Penn State’s defense recovered nicely from the LSU game. Even with a blocked punt, Georgia punted for more yards (276) than it gained offensively (204). West Virginia thinks it could have done better.

 

Championship Game

 

Texas 41, Penn State 31

            Struggling with his passing (111 yards) for the first time in the tourney, Vince Young ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns as Texas thwarted a Penn State comeback that had tied the game at 31-31 with six minutes to play. Texas did not seal the deal until David Pino’s 41-yard field goal with 45 seconds remaining.

            With a 241-yard running attack, Texas kept surging ahead of Penn State, but could not keep the Lions down. Young’s 12-yard run opened the scoring, but counterpart QB Marcus Robinson threw for the tying TD in the first quarter. Texas went up 17-7, but Kevin Kelly’s 38-yard-field goal with 8 seconds remaining in the half took the teams to the locker-room at 17-10. Then Tony Hunt ran 11 yards to tie the game on the first drive of the third quarter.

            Ramonce Taylor ran 17 yards for a TD and a 24-17 Texas lead. Then Young scored four minutes later on a sneak to make it 31-17 entering the fourth quarter. Once again Penn State rallied, as Hunt ran it in from 2 yards out, then defender Tim Shaw scooped up a Selvin Young’s fumble and raced 29 yards for the tying score.

            Selvin Young, held to 26 yards on 12 other carries, redeemed himself for the fumble by running 46 yards for the winning score with 3:15 remaining.

            Key stat: Texas averaged 46.8 points for four games against UCLA, TCU, Notre Dame and Penn State, never scoring fewer than 40.

 

 

Tourney MVP Vince Young passed for six touchdowns and ran for five. He completed two-thirds of his passes and was the leading rusher on a Longhorns team that averaged 244 yards rushing per game for a 5.3 average per carry. Young amassed 948 yards in total offense. He was sacked only twice and did not fumble running or passing, while throwing only one interception in 87 pass attempts.