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Controversial BCS National Championships: A Look At What Might Have Been in A Four-Team Playoff – 2003

Controversial BCS National Championships: A Look At What Might Have Been in A Four-Team Playoff – 2003

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Published by: FishDuck on Aug 22, 2012
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Originally posted on FishDuck.com:http://fishduck.com/2012/08/controversial-bcs-national-championship-games-a-look-at-what-might-have-been-in-a-4-team-playoff-2003/Controversial BCS National Championships: A Look At What Might Have Been in A Four-Team Playoff – 2003Reported by Pat & Jai Pannu on August 22, 2012 inFishWrap, FishWrap Archive, History Article | 0 CommentsSure, it may be less than two weeks until the 2012 season, but with the installation of a new four-team playoff structure this off-season (set to begin in 2014), it is as good of a time as any to ponder what teams should have made the playoffs in the 15 years of the BCS’ existence.Nearly every year one or more teams are left complaining about the final polls not falling in their favor. Now there are only two more seasons to endure the BCSstructure before college playoffs begin, two more years of a team or two getting robbed from their shot at a title.This series leading up to the kickoff of the 2012 season will feature a mock playoff from specific years when the BCS system seemed to get it all very wrong. Based upon the team’s record and players, we will simulate who would have played whom and come out victorious had the playoffs existed from the get-go, starting with the 2000 season. This will focus only on controversial BCS national championship games, explaining what could have happened had there been a playoff.For part 1′s look at the 2000 season’s proposed playoff, click here.For part 2′s look at the 2001 season’s proposed playoff, click here.The 2003-04 Season2003 BCS Recap – The ControversyThe controversy in the 2003-2004 football season stemmed from the fact that three teams–Oklahoma, USC and LSU–finished the season with only one loss. It was the first time in the BCS’ existence that no team had finished undefeated, further addingto the speculation of which teams deserved to play for the championship.Oklahoma, which had been undefeated before losing to Kansas State in the Big-12Championship game, retained their #1 rank after the loss based on their whole season’s performance, the BCS computers not taking the timing of the loss into account. However the decision drew ire from both fans and media that once again saw ateam from the Big-12 incapable of winning its own conference once again competing for the championship, just like in 2001.USC felt snubbed, being passed over for the championship game despite winning the Pac-10 title in favor of Oklahoma, who finished 3rd in the Big-12, to face LSU. The game was essentially a home game for the LSU Tigers, held at the LouisianaSuperdome, with the Tigers using the homefield advantage to eek out a 21-14 victory over Oklahoma to receive the 2003-04 BCS National Championship. #1 Seed: The 2003 Oklahoma SoonersThe preseason hype for the Sooners defense seemed well deserved after their season opening 37- 3 victory over the North Texas Mean Green. Admittedly, the MeanGreen were not the toughest opponent the Oklahoma defense would face, but the performance was nonetheless impressive. At one point in the 2nd quarter, North Texas had more penalty yards than offensive yards.
Oklahoma then traveled to Tuscaloosa to face the Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama played its best game of the season, but it just was not enough to hang with the #3 team in the country, the Sooners needing a fake punt and an impressive performance from QB Jason White to pull out the 20-13 victory over the unranked-but-defiant Crimson Tide.The Sooners returned home to the friendly confines of Gaylord Stadium. In frontof a school-record crowd of 83,091 hosting the Fresno State Bulldogs, White threw for 338 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. The Oklahoma offense was simply outstanding, scoring on all six of its first half possessions to take a 38-0halftime lead, before rolling to a 52-28 victory.With the UCLA Bruins in town, Oklahoma reminded them that there are three key phases to football – offense, defense AND special teams. The Bruins were simply terrible on kick coverage, letting Antonio Perkins set the NCAA record for most return yards in a single game, scoring three times with returns of 65, 74 and 84 yards to light up the scoreboard in the 59-24 rout.Oklahoma sprinted past Iowa State 53-7 on its way to a showdown against #5 Texas, the bitter Red River Rivalry rarely having larger implications. Oklahoma dropped its highest point total of the season, the defense forcing six turnovers andled by Mark Clayton, who had a school record 190 yards receiving, to help Oklahoma take down the Longhorns 65-13. Oklahoma ended the month of October with a 34-13 win over Missouri and a 34-20 defeat of Colorado.The Sooners started the month of December against Oklahoma State and Texas A&M–theonly blemishes on Oklahoma’s record the previous year. Oklahoma destroyed their in-state rivals (Oklahoma State) 52-9 before welcoming the Aggies, resulting in one of the biggest blowouts in recent history, a 77-0 thrashing of A&M.The next two games for Oklahoma were more of the same, defeating Baylor and Texas Tech by 41-3 and 56-25 respectively. The only game left on the Sooners schedule was the Big-12 conference championship game against #10 Kansas State. Led by the diminutive but electric Darren Sproles, K-State gave the Sooners a taste of their own medicine, squashing Oklahoma’s dreams of a perfect season before a stunned home crowd as Ell Roberson threw four touchdown passes. The real star of the game was Sproles though, running for 235 yards and catching three passes for 88 yards, reminding everyone on this night the Sooners were not the #1 team in either the Big-12 or the country. #2 Seed: The 2003 LSU TigersLSU quarterback Matt Mauck took a little while to shake off the rust, but once he did he was simply spectacular. LSU, hosting Louisiana-Monroe to open the season, was held scoreless until 6:37 left in the first half but then it was all Matt Mauck, scoring three touchdowns before halftime to put LSU firmly in control before letting the backups carry LSU to an easy 49-7 victory.In one of the very rare occasions a SEC team ventures outside of the South, LSUtraveled to Arizona State, routing the Sun Devils 59-13, Mauck throwing only oneincompletion all night. This was followed up with a career-high 305 yard effortby Mauk to beat Western Illinois 35-7.LSU QB Matt MauckNext, 10th ranked LSU faced its first ranked team of the season-#7 Georgia. LSUwas in control late in the 4th ahead 10-3 and looking to score again when Mauckfumbled, setting up Georgia’s Tyson Browning to break open for 93 yard game-tying
score on a screen pass.With few seconds remaining, Mauck found Skyler Green for the game-winning touchdown, the first road loss in Mark Richt’s tenure at Georgia. There was no letdown after the high of defeating the Bulldogs, as LSU took down the other Bulldogs inthe conference, Mississippi State, in an easy 41-6 win, shutting out MSU until the 4th quarter.LSU next hosted Florida, the Tigers defense doing all it could to keep them in the game, but Mauck’s two interceptions and a gutsy performance by Florida QB ChrisLeak, who overcame six sacks to pass for 229 yards and two touchdowns, handed LSU its first loss of the season, 19-7. Following a bye, LSU’s #1-ranked offense inthe SEC looked completely out of synch against the Gators, its only score coming from a Skyler Green 80-yard punt return.Licking its wounds, LSU sought respite in Columbia facing the South Carolina Gamecocks. It turned out to be just what the Tigers needed, rushing for 263 yards to run away with it, 33-7. LSU went on to win its next three games against Auburn, Louisiana Tech and Alabama routing each, before facing Eli Manning and #15 Ole Miss. The Tigers used their stellar defense to blanket Manning’s receivers, holding him to 16/32 and 200 yards and an interception.LSU ran past Arkansas 55-24 on its way to a rematch in the SEC title game against fifth-ranked Georgia. LSU made sure that everyone knew that its first victorywas no fluke, soundly defeating Georgia 34-13. LSU, led by freshman sensation Justin Vincent who ran for 201 yards on just 18 carries and two touchdowns, made sure that LSU would keep its hat in the ring for the National Championship game.#3 Seed: The 2003 USC TrojansUSC QB Matt Leinart came into the season with big expectations and did not disappoint.The much hyped season-opening battle between #8 USC and #6 Auburn proved a dud,as the Trojans embarrassed the Tigers on their own turf, 23-0; quarterback MattLeinart (replacing Heisman Trophy-winner Carson Palmer) throwing for 192 yards and a TD. The real story of the game was the USC defense, which shut down what may have been the best backfield in the nation with tailbacks Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown and quarterback Jason Campbell, who accounted for two of the three Tiger turnovers.The Trojans hosted BYU in the second game of the season building a 21-0 lead inthe first quarter, but then were shut out until 7:05 in the fourth quarter before scoring two touchdowns to close out a 35-18 victory It was smooth sailing thenext week vs. Hawaii, sending the Warriors packing back for the islands, 61-32.However, the Trojans high hopes for running the table came to a halt with the opening of the Pac-12 season, the Aaron Rodgers-led Cal Bears shocking USC in triple overtime, the signature win in Jeff Tedford’s long tenure as Cal head coach. The only bright spot for the Trojans was the special teams unit, which blocked twokicks in the game to keep the Trojans within striking distance, but it was notenough.Despite a leg injury, Leinart and co. gutted out a rebound win against ASU, throwing for 283 yards, freshman running back Lendale White chipping in with 140 yards on the ground. The game remained close into the 4th quarter before USC closedit out with two late scores, finishing the game 37-17.Riding their hot streak after the Cal letdown, the Trojans ran past Stanford 44-21, Notre Dame 45-14 and Washington 43-9, setting up the table for a showdown with #6 Washington State. USC came into the game looking to show that it was the b

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