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5 Major Conference Teams Win Championships to Earn Coveted Spots in the BCS Bowl Games
Five of the nation’s top major conference teams won titles in week 14 of college football to earn coveted spots in BCS bowl games. The best of the best include Alabama, Texas, Cincinnati, Oregon, and Georgia Tech.
In the nation’s biggest game before bowl season, the Crimson Tide of Alabama (13-0) avenged their loss last year to the Florida Gators (12-1) by easily beating Florida, 32-13, winning the SEC Championship and the right to compete for the National Championship.
The Gators, who won the national title last year, should have been embarrassed since they entered the matchup leading the nation in scoring defense (9.83 ppg) and total defense (233.08 ppg). Alabama, which had the second-best scoring defense in the country (10.83 ppg) and third-best total defense (233.92 ypg), proved superior.
Florida just couldn’t handle the Tide’s star running back Mark Ingram, who rushed for 113 yards and 3 touchdowns. Alabama’s Greg McElroy passed for 239 yards and a touchdown to win the Most Valuable Player award.
Alabama last won a national championship in 1992. Florida won national titles in 2006 and 2008 and was trying to win 3 titles in 4 years.
Texas (13-0) needed a 46-yard field goal by Hunter Lawrence as time expired to reverse a monstrous defensive effort by Nebraska (9-4) and win the Big 12 Championship, 13-12, and the right to play Alabama. for the national title on January 7.
The Cornhuskers’ stout defense excelled in nearly pulling off a big upset. Few fans realized how good Husker’s defense was. Nebraska was third in the nation in scoring defense (11.08 ppg) and 11th in total defense (291.42 ypg), and believe me, Texas found out why.
Longhorn quarterback Colt McCoy nearly lost the game for Texas by diving for a pass in the final moments and holding the ball too long before throwing it away. Officials determined the ball hit the ground out of bounds with 1 second left, allowing Lawrence to make his dramatic game-winning field goal. Nebraska’s defense sacked McCoy 9 times, which doesn’t say much about the protection of the Longhorns’ offensive line.
Oklahoma denied Texas a shot at the national title game last year, despite the Longhorns beating the Sooners in the regular season. Many fans thought that Texas should have played Florida for the title last year; now they will.
The Cincinnati Bearcats (12-0), down 21 points, needed Tony Pike’s 29-yard touchdown pass to Armon Binns with 33 seconds remaining to complete their narrow 45-44 victory over Pittsburgh (9-3) to win the Big East Championship. and the right to face Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
Pittsburgh’s Dion Lewis rushed for 194 yards and 3 touchdowns, and the Panthers led Cincinnati 31-10 earlier in the game, but it wasn’t enough to stop the fifth-best scoring offense in the nation. Cincinnati averaged over 39 points per game going into the contest, and coach Brian Kelly’s fast-hitting spread offense exposed Pittsburgh’s lack of defense.
Kelly, who went 10-3 in Cincinnati as a freshman, went 11-3 last year and is now 12-0 heading into the Sugar Bowl. He was signed by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who defeated Charlie Weis after 5 years and a 35-27 record.
In the biggest game in Oregon football history, Oregon (10-2) defeated Oregon State (8-4), 37-33, as Duck running back LaMichael James ran 52 yards to give Oregon a 34-33 lead with 1: 20 left in the 3rd quarter. James would finish with 166 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns.
The stakes were high as this year’s Civil War was a winner-take-all battle with the Pac-10 Championship and the right to face Ohio State (10-2) in the Rose Bowl. Ohio State had won the Big Ten Championship earlier by beating Iowa.
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (11-2) needed Jonathan Dwyer’s 15-yard touchdown run with 1:20 remaining to defeat Clemson (8-5), 39-34, to win the Atlantic Coast Championship and a berth in the Orange. Bowl against Iowa (10-2).
Houston’s luck ran out against East Carolina (9-4) as the Pirates beat the Cougars 38-32 to capture the Major Conference USA middleweight title. East Carolina’s title was their second in a row and proved once again that defense, not offense, wins championships more often.
Houston has the highest scoring offense in the nation (44+ ppg), but its hog defense ranks 110th out of 120 major college teams. East Carolina’s scoring defense ranks 31st (21+ ppg) and their total defense ranks 68th; at least the Panthers had a defense and used it to win another C-USA title.
BCS’s fifth game, the Fiesta Bowl, will feature two undefeated major-half teams: Mountain West Conference champion Texas Christian (12-0) and Conference champion Boise State (13-0). the Western Athletic Conference. The matchup marks the first time two non-automatic teams from the top 6 conferences have met in a coveted BCS game.
Copyright © 2009 Ed Bagley
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