The Magnificent Seven: The Games of Championship Weekend
The 2009 college football season was relatively low on drama. This championship weekend was anything BUT uneventful. Amazing individual performances, last-minute finishes, questionable play-calling, emotion, drama—you name it, this weekend had it. The number of games played were few, yet the memorable games were many. Here's a look of the top games of this championship weekend.
7) Texas 13 Nebraska 12
It was scheduled as Colt McCoy's Heisman coronation. It almost ended up being the most epic choke in modern sports history. The right foot of kicker Hunter Lawrence saved the dream of Texas winning a fifth national championship. This game was showcase of the nation's two top defenses. Ndumakong Suh almost single handedly won the game with 4 1/2 sacks and twelve total tackles. The reasons why Nebraska lost the game are simple.
1) Only 105 yards on offense and five first downs.
2) Settling for a field goal when they had first and goal at the Texas 10-yard line late in the third quarter.
Enjoy this moment Texas for you were six inches away from making Les Miles seem like an organized coach.
6) Arizona 21 USC 17
This was not the ending Pete Carroll had scripted. It was the sweetest victory in the Mike Stoops era. The Wildcats all likely punched their ticket to the Holiday Bowl with this trimuph. Juron Criner caught the game-winning touchdown to give Arizona their eighth win. While not as high-scoring, the game had plenty of drama. It's hard to focus on a game when Craig James has to leave the broadcast with a sore throat.
5) Fresno State 53 Illinois 52
964 yards of total offense and 105 points. Sounds like an 1990's WAC football game. It's a shame that only Big Ten Network viewers saw our number five game. This game had everything you could want and then some. Illinois QB Juice Williams shined on Senior Day (211 passing yards, 3 TD). Fresno State TB Ryan Matthews (173 yards, 3 TD) and Illinois RB Mikel LeShoure (184 yards, 2 TD) both had career days.
And did I mention an offensive lineman caught the game-winning two point conversion? Not that that's a unusual occurrence or anything...
4) East Carolina 38 Houston 32
For all the passing yards and touchdowns, Houston QB Case Keenum is missing one thing—a Conference USA ttitle. The Pirates won their second straight title despite giving up 527 passing yards to Keenum. East Carolina relied on their running attack (151 yards) and an opportunistic defense (four turnovers forced) to protect their home field. This game could have been different if the Cougars didn't miss three extra points.
3) Oregon 37 Oregon State 33
Never before had the Civil War decided who went to the Rose Bowl. The game lived up to the billing and then some. LeMichael James introduced himself to the national spotlight with his 166-yard, three touchdown performance. The win propelled the Ducks their first trip to Pasedena since 1995. Amist of all of the hype was the return of LaGarett Blount. He ran for 56 yards and a score in the victory. Now, they look to continue the Pac-10's dominance in the Rose Bowl versus Ohio State.
2) Georgia Tech 39 Clemson 34
Not since Vince Young have we seen a greater individual performance in a championship game. The only catch was Vince won his game. Don't blame C.J. Spiller for Clemson still not winning an outright ACC title since 1991. He had a conference championship record 301 all-purpose yards and 4 touchdowns. However, the Yellow Jacket option attack had the ball more. Both Josh Nesbitt and Jonathan Dwyer ran for over 100 yards in the victory. Two years ago, Paul Johnson was crazy for taking his spread option attack to the BCS office. He'll be getting the last laugh in Miami for the FedEx Orange Bowl.
1) Cincinnati 45 Pittsburgh 44
Conference championshp at stake: Check
Ranked teams: Check
Bad weather: Check
Miracle comeback: Check
Amazing individual performances: Check
Epic fail in special teams: Check
What didn't our top game have? I could go all day about the spectacular performances by Pitt's Dion Lewis and Cincinnati's Mardy Gilyard. We can talk about the missed extra point that cost the Panthers a BCS did. There can be discussions about how Tony Pike was one more error away from being yanked. However, we will let the game speak for itself.
Honorable Mention-UConn 29 South Floirda 27
For Randy Edsall, it was nice to win a game at the wire for a change. Throw in the fact it was Senior Night to make it sweeter. Great win to end one of the more emotionally draining seasons to date. Huskies will look to end the season on a high note in the Papa Johns Bowl. Another second-half swoon dooms what could have been a banner year for the Bulls. BJ Daniels seems to be ready to be the next star in the Big East. However, can USF get focused on playing Northern Illinois in the International Bowl?
Honorable Mention-Appalachian State 35 Richmond 31
It's amazing what can happen if we actually decided a championship on the field. Three of the four I-AA (or FCS) quarterfinals were decided by at least three touchdowns. This game between the last two national champions lived up to all of the hype. Revenge was on the mind on the visiting Mountaineers. Their reign as three-time national champions ended to Richmond last year. Armanti Edwards led his Mountaineers to three touchdown drives in the last 8:38 for the win.