The Arizona Republic
By ANDREW BAGNATO
The Arizona Republic
TEMPE – There was good news for the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl yesterday. The 35th Fiesta Bowl is only 365 days away.
It can’t be any worse than the 34th Fiesta Bowl – fifth-ranked Utah’s 35-7 rout of No. 19 Pittsburgh on Saturday night in Sun Devil Stadium – which will go down as one of the clunkers in the game’s illustrious history.
“Over time, these things even out,” Fiesta Bowl president and CEO John Junker said yesterday. “The law of averages paid us off 10 times with the Ohio State-Miami game.”
Ohio State’s double-overtime victory over the Hurricanes in the 2002 Bowl Championship Series title game has been hailed as one of the greatest games in college football history. But recently the Fiesta has produced its share of snoozers.
In the Fiesta’s first 18 years, only two contests were decided by 17 or more points, and Arizona State’s 28-7 victory over Pitt in 1973 was a 10-7 game heading into the fourth quarter.
By contrast, 10 of the past 16 Fiesta Bowls have been decided by at least 17 points.
It may be a coincidence that the games have often become less competitive even as they’ve grown in national importance. But this year’s matchup appeared doomed from the start, and there was nothing Fiesta officials could do about it.
The way the BCS selections worked out, the Fiesta found itself stuck with the Big East champion, which turned out to be 8-3 Pitt. The Fiesta’s only choice was whether to invite Mountain West Conference champion Utah, which became the first non-BCS school to earn a BCS berth, or Big 12 also-ran Texas, which had earned a guaranteed at-large berth.
As the Big 12′s anchor bowl, the Fiesta had the right to choose the Longhorns. But after considerable debate, Fiesta officials decided to take the upstart Utes, hoping that their presence would generate national interest.
That meant the Rose Bowl could pair Michigan and Texas for the first time in their histories.
No. 6 Texas 38, No. 13 Michigan 37: At Pasadena, Calif., Dusty Mangum kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired, and Texas, behind quarterback Vince Young, edged the Wolverines on Saturday in the first matchup of two of college football’s elite programs.
The Longhorns proved they did belong in the Rose Bowl. The Longhorns (11-1) earned their trip west when they leapfrogged fourth-ranked California in the final BCS standings, helped by coach Mack Brown’s public pleas.
Capital One Bowl
Iowa 30, LSU 25: At Orlando, Fla., just when it looked as though coach Nick Saban would go out a winner at LSU, the Iowa Hawkeyes came up with a miracle finish.
Drew Tate threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Warren Holloway on the final play. The score capped a wild fourth quarter and spoiled a comeback by the Tigers, who overcame a 12-point deficit with 8 1/2 minutes left.
No. 17 Florida State 30, West Virginia 18: At Jacksonville, Fla., Florida State overcame mistake after mistake to avoid an unprecedented third straight bowl loss.
Coach Bobby Bowden, facing his former school for the first time since the 1982 Gator Bowl, moved within one bowl win of Joe Paterno’s NCAA record of 19 at Penn State.
No. 15 Tennessee 38, No. 22 Texas A&M 7: At Dallas, Rick Clausen looked nothing like the third-string quarterback he was most of the season, leading Tennessee to five touchdowns in just 2 1/2 quarters.
No. 8 Georgia 24, No. 16 Wisconsin 21: At Tampa, Fla., David Greene, the winningest quarterback in NCAA history, got one more victory.
Greene threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns in his last game for the Bulldogs (10-2), continuing his assault on the Southeastern Conference record book and adding win No. 42 to his NCAA mark.