Dec. 8, 2002
By RICHARD ROSENBLATT
AP Football Writer
No surprise in the Fiesta Bowl: It’s No. 1 Miami vs. No. 2 Ohio State in the BCS national title game matching major college football’s only undefeated teams.
The final Bowl Championship Series standings released Sunday were just a formality in determining the title game since the Hurricanes (12-0) and Buckeyes (13-0) had already accepted bids to the Jan. 3 Fiesta Bowl.
But the three other BCS games took on a surprising look when the Orange Bowl pulled off a coup with a Rose Bowl-like matchup of No. 3 Iowa vs. No. 5 Southern California on Jan. 2.
Washington State, the Pac-10 champion, will play Big 12 champion Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. The Sugar Bowl on the same day will match SEC champion Georgia against ACC champion Florida State, a game featuring Bulldogs coach Mark Richt against his former boss, Bobby Bowden.
Now that BCS bowl mystery has been cleared up, Notre Dame (10-2) ends up as the biggest loser. With Iowa and USC chosen as the at-large teams, the Irish will play in the Gator Bowl against North Carolina State.
Each BCS game team receives about $13 million, which is split among conference members. Notre Dame, as an independent, would have kept all the money. The Gator Bowl payout is $1.6 million per team.
A Miami-Ohio State matchup has been anticipated for weeks. The Buckeyes completed their season with a victory over Michigan on Nov. 23. The Hurricanes closed out their second straight perfect regular season with a wild 56-45 win over Virginia Tech on Saturday.
Miami, led by Heisman Trophy contenders Ken Dorsey and Willis McGahee, will try to become just the second team to repeat as national champions since 1980, and first since Nebraska in 1994-95. Ohio State, led by running back Maurice Clarett and a solid defense, goes after its first national crown since 1968.
“They do have a great defense, and I’m just looking at the stats,” Miami coach Larry Coker said. “I really haven’t seen Ohio State other than a little on television. And then our offense. That will be an excellent matchup. Of course, let’s not put their offense down with Maurice Clarett. He’s an excellent back.”
While each of the BCS games has regional tie-ins, the selection rules allowed the Orange Bowl to end up without one of six conference champions. In doing so, the Orange Bowl is perhaps the most marquee bowl game outside the Fiesta Bowl.
The Hawkeyes (11-1) and Trojans (10-2) feature two of the top quarterbacks in the nation. Brad Banks led Iowa to the co-Big Ten title, while Carson Palmer directed USC to a co-Pac-10 title with Washington State.
“It’s ironic to have co-champs from the Big Ten and Pac-10 playing together on another coast,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “But with the BCS, things change. What a great matchup, though. Two tremendous quarterbacks. USC may have the sexier name, but we think it will be a great game.”
In the final BCS standings, Miami was first with 2.93 points, with Ohio State second at 3.97 points.
Georgia (12-1), which won its first SEC title in 20 years with a 30-3 victory over Arkansas on Saturday, was third at 8.37 points. USC finished with 10.51 points, and Iowa had 10.79 points.
By finishing fourth in the BCS standings, USC was guaranteed a BCS game, while Iowa was the only one-loss team available since Georgia was tied to the Sugar Bowl.
The Orange Bowl landed Iowa-USC thanks to a BCS rule concerning payouts. Since the Orange has a slightly higher payout than the Sugar, it got to pick the Trojans.
Here’s how: After the Fiesta Bowl matchup was made, the Orange had the next pick because its anchor team – Big East champion Miami – wasn’t available. It chose Iowa.
The Rose Bowl, which lost Big Ten champion Ohio State, went for Oklahoma (11-2) to play Pac-10 champion Washington State (10-2). The Sugar, which had its anchor team in Georgia, then wanted USC. But so did the Orange.
In that case, according to BCS rules, the bowl with the higher payoff gets first preference. So the Orange went for USC and Iowa.
“Traditionally, we want to go to the Rose bowl,” Ferentz said. “But with the BCS, the traditions have been broken.
The rest of the bowl picture began to take shape. Official matchups are:
New Orleans (Dec. 17): North Texas (7-5) vs. Cincinnati (7-6).
GMAC (Dec. 18): Marshall (10-2) vs. Louisville (7-5).
Las Vegas (Dec. 25): UCLA (7-5) vs. New Mexico (7-6).
Hawaii (Dec. 25): Tulane (7-5) vs. Hawaii (9-3).
Motor City (Dec. 26): Toledo (9-4) vs. Boston College (8-4).
Holiday Bowl (Dec. 27): Kansas State (10-2) vs. Arizona State (8-5).
Continental Tire (Dec. 28): West Virginia (9-3) vs. Virginia (8-5).
Sun (Dec. 31): Washington (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6).
Liberty (Dec. 31) Colorado State (10-3) vs. TCU (9-2).
Peach (Dec. 31): Maryland (10-3) vs. Tennessee (8-4).
San Francisco (Dec. 31): Air Force (8-4) vs. Virginia Tech (9-4).
Outback (Jan. 1): Michigan (9-3) vs. Florida (8-4).
Capital One (Jan. 1): Penn State (9-3) vs. Auburn (8-4).
Gator (Jan. 1): Notre Dame (10-2) vs. North Carolina State (10-3).