College Football: The 11 Best 11s Final Edition And Bowl Review
The argumentative nature of the college football game lends itself to never-ending discussions regarding who is the true national champion.
Boise State won 14 games this season and lost none. The closest margin of victory was seven points, over undefeated Texas Christian in the Fiesta Bowl.
Without a playoff system, there will always be a debate concerning who is truly the strongest team in the nation.
If you began following college football in 1998 or later, as have so many of the younger fans, the only system of determining a title winner has been the Bowl Championship Series.
Fans who became interested in the game during the era of the late 1970s to the late 90's recall the method of endorsements by newspapers and a collection of coaches who gathered after the final bowl game and cast their votes for the best team.
This resulted in several split decisions concerning who was actually the champion.
The years 1997, 1991, and 1990 demonstrate how different people can watch the same action but arrive at conflicting conclusions.
In 1990 the coaches voted Georgia Tech national champion, while the writers voted for Colorado. In '91 the writers went for Miami, the coaches for Washington.
The 1997 split title between Nebraska and Michigan led directly to the creation of the BCS system the following season.
The following is a review of the ups and downs of this bowl season and the resulting final ranking of the top teams.
Best Strategy: Iowa Hawkeyes
Coach Kirk Ferentz of Iowa knew he faced a problem with the powerful running game of ACC Champion Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
His Hawkeyes had seen very little option this season and the one powerful running game they did encounter, Big 10 Champion Ohio State, ground out 229 yards while defeating Iowa in the conference showdown.
Still, with weeks to prepare, Ferentz used the speed of his defensive ends and rotating defensive backfield to neutralize the spread and corner runs of the Yellow Jackets.
In addition, the Hawkeye coach bunched the interior of his defense to slow down the pounding Tech running game to a mere echo of usual success.
Taking a chance the unsophisticated passing attack of the men from Atlanta would not be able to carry the offense, Ferentz guessed right and deserves the award for best strategy, resulting in a 24-14 upset victory over Georgia Tech.
Neatest Ploy: Boise State Broncos
Boise State waited for the perfect moment to unleash a weapon from their well-known bag of tricks: the fake punt.
With nothing to lose against the favored undefeated Horned Frogs from Fort Worth, the always-dazzling Broncos stunned the TCU special team with a timely fake punt.
Along with a punishing offense and a swarming defense, this outstanding play resulted in an eventual 17-10 victory for unbeaten Boise State.
Biggest Surprise: Connecticut Huskies
Going into Birmingham, Ala., to take on Steve Spurrier's South Carolina Gamecocks seemed an overwhelming task for the Connecticut Huskies.
Playing with great intensity and following the superb plan of Coach Randy Edsall during the game, the Huskies of the Big East shocked the favored Gamecocks of the SEC in the PapaJohns.com Bowl.
UConn controlled the ball for nearly 36 minutes in running away with a 20-7 victory in what some call the heart of SEC country.
Best Moment: Texas Tech Red Raiders
Following the horrific debacle regarding the demise of Red Raider coach Mike Leach, Texas Tech seemed ready for a flat performance in the Alamo Bowl vs. Michigan State.
Demonstrating a true feel for time and place, interim coach Ruffin McNeil removed starting quarterback Taylor Potts and replaced him with backup Steven Sheffield, who promptly led the Red Raiders to a 41-31 victory.
With the game no longer in doubt, happy and supportive players rallied around McNeil and gave him a thorough dousing of Gatorade, which led to a celebration on the sideline by members of the team and coaching staff.
Loudest Gasp: Texas Longhorns
No bowl fans suffered more than followers of the Texas Longhorns when star quarterback Colt McCoy took himself out of the game permanently during the opening moments of the BCS Title Game.
Key Moment: Ohio State Buckeyes
During the opening drive in the Rose Bowl game between Ohio State and Oregon, Coach Jim Tressel of the Buckeyes realized he had prepared the proper game plan and turned loose his awesome sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
For those in the stands and the millions watching at home, it was the definitive "A-Ha Moment" of the game and entire bowl season.
Pryor demonstrated he may be the finest athlete and savvy signal caller seen in the game since former Longhorn quarterback Vince Young was prowling the sidelines in 2005.
The end result of the Rose Bowl was a 26-17 victory for Ohio State over PAC-10 champion Oregon.
Happiest Coach: Florida State
The epic career of the great Bobby Bowden as coach of Florida State came to a surprising conclusion in the Gator Bowl when his Seminoles ripped apart the West Virginia Mountaineers, 33-21.
“Eat your heart out, Florida State,” Ann Bowden, the coach’s wife, said afterward. “Eat your heart out.”
With 1:39 left, Bowden trotted down to the Florida State band section, removing his autographed white cap and tossing it into the seats—and the celebration began.
When it was over, Bowden was surrounded by a wall of photographers.
“It’s got to be memorable,” Bowden said. “It’s my last dadgum ballgame after 57 years of coaching.”
The 11 Best 11s: 2009 Final Edition
The 11 Best 11s:
1. Alabama: SEC Champion
2. Boise State: WAC Champion
3. Texas: Big 12 Champion
4. Ohio State: Big 10 Champion
7. Penn State
8. Texas Christian: Mountain West Champion
9. Oregon: PAC-10 Champion
10. Cincinnati: Big East Champion
11. Georgia Tech: ACC Champion
In the final rankings we find the six BCS Conference Champions, the two non-BCS Conference champions who qualified for BCS Bowls, and three powerful runner-ups from the SEC and Big 10 conferences.
Congratulations to all of these great teams in the final ranking of the season.