Skip to main content

Fiction: I-A Playoffs: Auburn Carted Off as National Champions

Auburn 20, USC 17
Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville was carried off the field as undefeated and uncontested national champions, after defeating a shocked USC squad 20-17 on a last-second FG by K John Vaughn.

The Tigers got here by beating Utah 29-27, Louisville 24-0, and Michigan 24-21. USC got here by beating Boise St. 42-34, Iowa 31-0, and Georgia 37-21. (Michigan beat the previously-unbeaten Sooners 37-33 to set up their semifinal match with USC).

Billed as a high-scoring affair, the tough Tiger defense set the tone with 5 sacks of QB Matt Leinart, and a couple of interceptions, one of which was returned for a TD by J. Rosegreen. At the time it made the score 17-7 late in the 3rd quarter, but the Trojans came right back with a big drive, alternating big RB Reggie Bush rushes and QB Matt Leinart passes. Ultimately Leinart found WR Dwayne Jarrett in the end zone, cutting the lead to 17-14.

After a 3-and-out, the USC offense again drove the length of the field, but the national champion Tiger defense held firm, holding the Trojans to a FG to tie the game with 1:47 remaining. Then, in the defining drive of the game, Orange Bowl MVP Jason Campbell led a bruising drive, with 3 3rd-down conversions. With two seconds left, Vaughn lined up for the 37 yard field goal and nailed it.

After the game, coach Tuberville, who nearly lost his job at the end of last season, said, "I just wanted to win by one, that's all that counts. If you have to win with style points, you might as well throw out all the systems.''

This reporter couldn't agree more. And hopefully next year, I won't need to resort to fiction to find a true national champion. Hopefully we'll have one for real.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Remembering Lehigh's Battles With The Late Tubby Raymond

(Photo Credits: Delaware Online)

When I heard the news Tubby Raymond, legendary Delaware head football coach, died last week at the age of 92, two immediate memories came rushing back to me.

One occurred on October 16th, 1999, when Tubby had made a complaint to the local paper or radio in the run-up to Kevin Higgins' Mountain Hawks beating his Blue Hens on Delaware's homecoming, 42-35.

I have no idea if the quote even actually happened, but my recollection is that Tubby said that Lehigh had "St. Bartholomew's" on their schedule, and hadn't played anybody.  It was a verbal jab that many Delaware fans took with them to the stands to heckle the Mountain Hawk fans that made the short trip to Newark.

Up until that point, I had watched a bunch of Lehigh football games over the years.  I experienced their rise in the 1990s.  I enjoyed wins, and championships, and playoff victories.

But never had I felt a win so viscerally vindicating than the one over Tubby Raymond&…

Lehigh Wrestling Gets Superstar Treatment at PPL Center. Lehigh Football Needs The Same At Murray Goodman.

"We knew it would be nice," Lehigh wrestling head coach Pat Santoro said. "But it was even better than we expected."

Pat was talking about the reception his Lehigh wrestling squad experienced at Allentown's PPL Center this weekend, when a sellout crowd over nearly 10,000 people came to watch No. 1 Penn State grapple with No. 5 Lehigh in a collegiate wrestling event.

It was, by all accounts, something special to behold. 

"I thought it was really cool and an exciting place to wrestle," said Penn State wrestler Nick Nevills. "These fans were really into it, a rowdy bunch. It's a lot more fun as an athlete to wrestle in an environment like this. I'd say it was one of the most exciting times I have had in my career."

The sense of spectacle at the PPL center, though, puts a spotlight on what more can be done at Lehigh itself to make their athletic contests into spectacles.  It requires money to be spent and energy to be expended.  But the…

Troy Pelletier Hasn't Stopped Outworking His Rivals On His Journey To Professional Football

Many Patriot League football fans remember the 153rd meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette, one that ended happily for the Mountain Hawks.

They might remember the MVP performance of QB Brad Mayes, or perhaps the halftime speech by OL Zach Duffy that seemed to spur the Mountain Hawks to victory.

Or perhaps they might remember the spectacular single play of Mayes rolling right and finding WR Gatlin Casey in the end zone to give the Mountain Hawks a lead they didn't relinquish.  It was an incredible play by Mayes, who returns this upcoming year for his senior season, and Casey, who, having exhausted his eligibility at Lehigh, will be playing one more year at Middle Tennessee State.

As great as those individual moments are, though, they are not my biggest takeaway of that game.

Too many Lehigh people forget that Lehigh was down 31-21 at half, and that victory was no sure thing.  And they sometimes forget that so much of that victory came from the grinding of WR Troy Pelletier, deliver…