Ohio State 2-OT win could rank No. 1, too

Miami loss is compared to '84 upset of Nebraska as greatest final of all time

College Football

January 05, 2003|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The folks at ESPN must be busy today, getting one of those Instant Classic shows ready for a replay of Ohio State's 31-24 double-overtime victory over Miami in the Fiesta Bowl national championship game at Sun Devil Stadium Friday night.

The parallels are already being drawn between the shocking win by the second-ranked but heavy-underdog Buckeyes to what many have considered the greatest college football game ever played: Miami's 31-30 win over favored Nebraska in the 1984 national championship game in the Orange Bowl.

There is now debate about which game was better.

Those who played in this one might be a little biased.

"It was the best college football game I've ever seen," said Miami tight end Kellen Winslow, who caught 11 passes for 122 yards, including a 7-yarder for a touchdown that briefly gave the Hurricanes the lead in the first overtime period. "I was proud to be a part of it."

Watching on television at the home of friends in Lincoln, Neb., Turner Gill was too caught up in the excitement of a riveting game to think about the similarities -- and differences -- with what transpired 19 years ago. Gill was the Nebraska quarterback whose two-point conversion pass was batted away by the Hurricanes.

"But had the game gone into a third overtime, with the two-point conversion coming into play, I might have started to think about our game," Gill said yesterday from Lincoln.

Had the Hurricanes sent this season's national championship game into a third overtime instead of being stopped on fourth-and-goal from the 1 -- like Gill, Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey's rushed pass was knocked away -- NCAA rules require that teams go for two rather than a simple extra-point kick after touchdowns.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel had no thoughts of going for two after Maurice Clarett scored what turned out to be the winning touchdown on a 5-yard run in the second overtime.

"I don't think you would go for two if you had a chance to go to [triple] overtime simply because of the percentages," Tressel said. "If we had gone to a third overtime, we would have had that. Next year that will probably happen. I like this format."

After Winslow's touchdown catch put Miami (12-1) ahead 24-17, the Buckeyes drove from the Hurricanes' 25 to the 3.

On fourth-and-three, quarterback Craig Krenzel tried to get the ball to Chris Gamble in the end zone. Gamble appeared to be grabbed twice by cornerback Glenn Sharpe -- once before the ball arrived and then as it bounced off his shoulder pads. After a nearly five-second delay, field judge Terry Porter tossed the flag.

The Hurricanes already had started celebrating what would have been their 35th straight victory and second straight national championship. Instead, the Buckeyes were awarded a first down on the Miami 2. Three plays later, Krenzel bulled his way into the end zone for the tying touchdown.

"Obviously, on fourth-down-and-long, that was a huge, huge play in the game," said Miami coach Larry Coker, who lost for the first time in his two seasons as a head coach. "You hate for an official to have to make that call."

Said Tressel: "For a second, I thought, `Boy isn't that a shame?' "

Said Gamble: "I was worried big-time."

Porter's decision helped send the game into double overtime. After Clarett's touchdown gave the Buckeyes the lead, a face-mask penalty on fourth-and-three from the Ohio State 18 gave Miami a first down on the Buckeyes' 6.

After three plays resulted in a 5-yard gain -- all by reserve tailback Jarrett Payton, who was playing for injured star Willis McGahee -- Dorsey was blitzed by Ohio State linebacker Cie Grant and his wobbly pass was batted down.

"I take all the responsibility," said Dorsey, who despite completing 28 of 43 for 296 yards and two touchdowns made some costly mistakes, including a pair of first-half interceptions and a fumble in the third quarter. "If I didn't turn the ball over, we would have been in great shape."

Said Winslow: "They didn't stop us. I think we really beat ourselves. They're a really disciplined team. They couldn't match up with our talent, but talent only takes you so far. I guess we learned that today."

It marked the first time in the history of the Bowl Championship Series that the championship game went to overtime. Proponents of a playoff system similar to the one used in Division I-AA might say that this game should make the BCS' committee of university presidents reconsider the current bowl formula.

BCS coordinator and Big East Conference commissioner Mike Tranghese told The Arizona Republic Friday, "I don't get a sense for any support for the system going backward.

"I just don't get any sense from the presidents that they want a playoff," he said of the presidential oversight committee, which will meet in the spring. "They don't say, `We've got to make money.' It could be status quo with some tweaking."

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