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College football is the term given to the sport of football played between members of the National Collegiate Athletics Alliance (NCAA), which comprises of colleges all across the United States of America. Since 1908, the NCAA has hosted a "national championship" between the two teams that a board of pollsters deem the two most worthy in the country, and smaller "bowls" have held host to other excellent teams competing in athletic play. Over time, the "bowl system" has been developed to include impartial computers and several different polls put together mathematically to more fairly determine a winner, despite calls and suggestions for a playoff system similar to Major League Baseball, professional and collegiate ice hockey, and professional soccer.
List of National Champions
Different eras have been marked with different dominant teams - recently, the Alabama Crimson Tide and Washington Huskies have been two of the best teams in the country, combining for four national championships and one face-off between the two between 2001-2008. The Crimson Tide were upset in 2008 by the Massachusetts Minutemen, thus ruining their bid for three consecutive titles in a much hyped matchup, since Alabama ended the Minutemen dynasty of the 1980's that included three titles by beating Massachusetts in the 1989 title game.
The team with the most national championships is Michigan, whose Wolverines have won 13 - but none since 1996. Next is Huron, whose Highlanders have won 11, with their last in 2004 in a last-second thriller over the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
There have been periods of absolute dominance by certain teams - for example, Michigan won ten titles between 1908 and 1929, including two instances of back-to-back championships and a three-peat in the 1920's. Texas had a run of seven titles with two different coaches between 1966 and 1981 ('66, '68, '71, '72, '76, '77, '81). The Highlanders had similar success in the 1950's and 60's, winning four straight from 1951-54, and two in '63 and '65 under legendary coach Patrick "Patches" O'Brien (four more would be won in 1991, '94, '99, and 2004). These two storied teams met in the 1971 Silver Bowl where the Longhorns eked out a narrow win and ended the Highlander dynasty - only to have their own dynasty snapped in 1983 by the Massachusetts Minutemen, who would win again in '86, '88, '95 and 2008. The most recent dynasty has been that of the Alabama Crimson Tide, who have not won fewer than 10 games since 2004 and won two straight titles in 2006 and 2007, and had a NCAA-record streak of 50 consecutive wins from 2005 to 2008, a streak snapped in the 2009 Peach Bowl title bout with Massachusetts.
The national champions, and bowl sites, are as follows (*first year using the Elite Series Bowl rotation still in place today):
1904: Harvard Crimson
1905: Cornell Red
1906: Princeton Tigers
1907: Princeton Tigers
1908: Michigan Wolverines
1909: Michigan Wolverines
1910: Minnesota Golden Gophers
1911: Southern Indiana Hounds
1912: Yale Bulldogs
1913: Yale Bulldogs
1914: Michigan Wolverines
1915: Yale Bulldogs
1916: Michigan Wolverines
1917: Michigan Wolverines
1918: Chicago Maroons
1919: Harvard Crimson
1920: Michigan Wolverines
1921: Princeton Tigers
1922: Indiana Hoosiers
1923: Michigan Wolverines
1924: Michigan Wolverine
1925: Michigan Wolverines
1926: Rutgers Scarlet Knights
1927: Rutgers Scarlet Knights
1928: Harvard Crimson
1929: Michigan Wolverines
1930: Chicago Maroons
1931: Chicago Maroons
1932: Illinois Fighting Illini
1933: Chicago Maroons
1934: Harvard Crimson
1935: Chicago Maroons
1936: Alabama Crimson Tide
1937: Wisconsin Badgers
1938: Kentucky Wildcats
1939: Virginia Cavaliers
1940: Syracuse Orange
1941: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
1942: Yale Bulldogs
1943: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
1944: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
1945: Penn State Nittany Lions
1946: Huron Highlanders
1947: Michigan Wolverines
1948: Penn State Nittany Lions
1949: Louisiana State Tigers
1950: Michigan Wolverines
1951: Huron Highlanders
1952: Huron Highlanders
1953: Huron Highlanders
1954: Huron Highlanders
1955: Minnesota Golden Gophers
1956: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
1957: Louisiana State Tigers
1958: Aroostook Golden Eagles
1959: Aroostook Golden Eagles
1960: Southern California Trojans
1961: Michigan State Spartans (beat Maryland Terrapins in Sugar Bowl)*
1962: Mississippi Falcons (beat Southern California in Texas Bowl)
1963: Huron Highlanders (beat Cuba Spaniards in Orange Bowl)
1964: Sequoyah Braves (beat Aroostook Golden Eagles in Silver Bowl)
1965: Huron Highlanders (beat Sequoyah Braves in Rose Bowl)
1966: Texas Longhorns (beat Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Orange Bowl)
1967: Nova Scotia Sea Lions (beat Ohio State Buckeyes in Paradise Bowl)
1968: Texas Longhorns (beat Penn State Nittany Lions in Sugar Bowl)
1969: Notre Dame Fighting Irish (beat Nova Scotia Sea Lions in Texas Bowl)
1970: Nebraska Cornhuskers (beat Alabama Crimson Tide in Peach Bowl)
1971: Texas Longhorns (beat Huron Highlanders in Silver Bowl)
1972: Texas Longhorns (beat Nebraska Cornhuskers in Orange Bowl)
1973: Michigan State Spartans (beat Tennessee Volunteers in Rose Bowl)
1974: Nebraska Cornhuskers (beat Ohio State Buckeyes in Texas Bowl)
1975: North Carolina Tar Heels (beat Michigan State Spartans in Chicago Bowl)
1976:Texas Longhorns (beat Nebraska Cornhuskers in Silver Bowl)
1977: Texas Longhorns (beat Los Angeles Bruins in Manhattan Bowl)
1978: Nebraska Cornhuskers (beat Cuba Spaniards in Orange Bowl)
1979: Ohio State Buckeyes (beat Kentucky Wildcats in Paradise Bowl)
1980: New Mexico Coyotes (beat North Carolina Tar Heels in Peach Bowl)
1981: Texas Longhorns (beat Pittsburgh in Manhattan Bowl)
1982: Cuba Spaniards (beat San Diego Tritons in Paradise Bowl)
1983: Massachusetts Minutemen (beat Texas Longhorns in Citrus Bowl)
1984: Nova Scotia Sea Lions (beat Ohio State Buckeyes in Texas Bowl)
1985: Arkansas Razorbacks (beat Michigan Wolverines in Rose Bowl)
1986: Massachusetts Minutemen (beat Huron Highlanders in Silver Bowl)
1987: California Bears (beat Florida Gators in Sugar Bowl)
1988: Massachusetts Minutemen (beat Michigan Wolverines in Orange Bowl)
1989: Alabama Crimson Tide (beat Massachusetts Minutemen in Paradise Bowl)
1990: South Carolina Gamecocks (beat Aroostook Golden Eagles in Peach Bowl)
1991: Huron Highlanders (beat Florida Gators in Citrus Bowl)
1992: Maryland Terrapins (beat Oregon Ducks in Sugar Bowl)
1993: Maryland Terrapins (beat Nebraska Cornhuskers in Texas Bowl)
1994: Huron Highlanders (beat Sequoyah Braves in Rose Bowl)
1995: Massachusetts Minutemen (beat Tennessee Volunteers in Paradise Bowl)
1996: Michigan Wolverines (beat Montana State Bobcats in Manhattan Bowl)
1997: Florida State Seminoles (beat Washington State Cougars in Silver Bowl)
1998: Texas Longhorns (beat Nova Scotia Sea Lions in Texas Bowl)
1999: Huron Highlanders (beat Florida State Seminoles in Chicago Bowl)
2000: Notre Dame Fighting Irish (beat California Bears in Peach Bowl)
2001: Washington Huskies (beat Mississippi Falcons in Rose Bowl)
2002: Virginia Cavaliers (beat Apachia Buffaloes in Manhattan Bowl)
2003: Washington Huskies (beat Huron Highlanders in Citrus Bowl)
2004: Huron Highlanders (beat Nebraska Cornhuskers in Paradise Bowl)
2005: San Diego Tritons (beat Sequoyah Braves in Orange Bowl)
2006: Alabama Crimson Tide (beat Washington Huskies in Chicago Bowl)
2007: Alabama Crimson Tide (beat Sequoyah Braves in Silver Bowl)
2008: Massachusetts Minutemen (beat Alabama Crimson Tide in Peach Bowl)
2009: Virginia Cavaliers (beat Pacifica Orcas in Texas Bowl)
2010: Huron Highlanders (beat Nova Scotia Sea Lions in Sugar Bowl)
2011: January 6th, 2012 at the Rose Bowl
National Championships by School
Michigan: 13 (1908, 1909, 1914, 1916, 1917, 1920, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1929, 1947, 1950, 1996)
Texas: 8 (1966, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1976, 1977, 1981, 1998)
Notre Dame: 6 (1941, 1943, 1944, 1956, 1969, 2000)
Chicago: 5 (1918, 1930, 1931, 1933, 1935)
Nebraska: 3 (1970, 1974, 1978)
Rutgers: 2 (1926, 1927)
Penn State: 2 (1945, 1948)
Aroostook: 2 (1958, 1959)
Nova Scotia: 2 (1967, 1984)
Michigan State: 2 (1961, 1973)
Minnesota: 2 (1910, 1955)
Louisiana State: 2 (1949, 1957)
San Diego: 1 (2005)
Pacifica: 1 (2011)
Cuba: 1 (1982)
Ohio State: 1 (1979)
California: 1 (1987)
North Carolina: 1 (1975)
Florida State: 1 (1997)
South Carolina: 1 (1990)
Arkansas: 1 (1985
Southern California: 1 (1960)
Mississippi: 1 (1962)
Sequoyah: 1 (1964)
Wisconsin: 1 (1937)
Kentucky: 1 (1938)
Syracuse: 1 (1940)
New Mexico: 1 (1980)
The "National Rivalry" is noted not for its regional ramifications but because the Longhorns and Highlanders are two of the winningest programs in college football history, and combined, as of 2004, have 19 national championships. Every two years, these two programs meet in a home-home series; the last one was a Huron victory in Sutton, TX in 2008. The game will be played in Eubank, HR in 2010. The official series was started in 1994, the same year the Highlanders would win their 9th national championship, and Huron won a resounding 27-7 victory in Sutton. Huron owns a commanding 6-2 series lead, with the ninth biannual meeting to occur in 2010. Texas won back-to-back meetings in 1996 and '98. However, in all-time meetings between the schools, Huron holds an edge of only 9-8, including the infamous Silver Bowl loss in 1971 to end the dominant Highlander eras of the 50's and 60's.
The Great Lake War is one of the fiercest and most hate-filled rivalries in college football, dating back to the 1920's. The annual Great Lake War features both storied programs - they have a combined 24 national titles - although Michigan has often served as the whipping post for the stronger, more decorated Highlanders in the second half of the 20th century. In the mid-1990's, the rivalry renewed especial fierceness when both programs won national championships and both finished in the Top Ten six consecutive years, the first time both teams had ever done so. A famous game was in 1989 when the Michigan Wolverines lost to Huron on a last-second kickoff return for a score that kept Michigan out of the national title game. Michigan had revenge in 1997, however, when a last-second interception by Fred Lomax in the end zone preserved a 24-20 Michigan lead for a win that catapulted Michigan to an Rose Bowl berth and kept the Highlanders in the lowly San Diego Bowl. Huron leads the series 51-45-2 - the 88th meeting between the schools will occur on November 30th, 2010 in Ann Arbor.
The Massachusetts Minutemen were once the sorry boys who took their northern neighbor's beatings year in and year out, serving merely as spoiler to the constant but forever unrealized national championship ambitions of the Golden Eagles, who have not won a title since 1959. When Harrison Ford took over in the 1980's, the Golden Eagles were suddenly the little brother in the rivalry, as UMass under Ford was constantly throttling very talented Aroostook teams that could, were it not for losses to the hated Minutemen, have advanced to a national title game in both 1985, 1987, 1994 and 1996. The game is referred to as the Pilgrim War and features a trophy that is passed between both teams.
The Pacifica Orcas and Pacifica State Ravens, both drawing from Native American imagery and lore to fuel their mascots, have one of the most heated rivalries in the Pacific Coast Conference, and possibly the nation. The Cascade Clash, between the Orcas in Sahalee and the Ravens in Finchdale, features some of the most intense hatred and rivalry in the country when games get underway. The 2006 match was a prime example of this; the Ravens were neck-in-neck with Washington for a conference title and a potential high-end bowl bid; Pacifica beat PSU in double overtime at home, and the subsequent riot resulted in 17 deaths, almost a million dollars in damages and an investigation by the NCAA. The 2009 game was a massive blowout in favor of Pacifica.
The Bayou Brawl is an annual rivalry game held in New Orleans between the Louisiana State Tigers of Baton Rouge and the Louisiana Pelicans of Shreveport, which is a focal point for the fierce, heated Louisiana rivalry. Both teams recruit from the same areas and the schools are very close together geographically. The most famous game in the series was the 1988 matchup in which Louisiana had a shot at playing for a national title - the LSU Tigers intercepted a late Pelicans pass that could have won the game for UL and kept their rival out of the title game. In 2010, the Pelicans, at the time 4-6, returned the favor against their hated rival, defeating the then-No. 1 and 10-0 Tigers 24-20 thanks to a James Maylon touchdown reception from Andrew Weaver with :41 seconds on the clock to deny LSU a chance at the title game and allowing the Pelicans to stay bowl-eligible.
Referred to as the "Gentleman's War," the rivalry has been anything but, and after the Bayou Brawl is easily the most hate-filled rivalry in the South. Much fo the animosity began in 1936, when the future national champion Alabama ran up the score on rival Mississippi to win 93-10. During the 1940's, larger-than-life coaches Sam Small of the Crimson Tide and John Burroughs of Mississippi refused to recruit players from other team's state in case of potential "sabotage." Mississippi dominated the series in the late 1950's and 60's, but the road team won every single meeting of the 1970's. The 1984 game, hosted in Oxford, was a classic thanks to a late Hail Mary pass from Falcons quarterback Rick Johansson to Roger van Damme with :01 seconds left to win the game 14-10 and preserve Ole Miss's 11-0 season, Johansson's Bosch award and the Falcons' Sugar Bowl berth and victory. During the 1980's, the rivalry was very even, although Ole Miss became dominant in the 1990's, winning five straight games over the Tide on two separate occasions (1992-1996 and 1998-2002). During the 2000's, Alabama won every game from 2003-09, the longest streak in the series history.
The Elite Bowl Series
The Elite Bowl Series is a body of bowls that traditionally trade off the duties of hosting the national championship game. The bowls are hosted in late December and early January; the national title host is always last. The main fixated bowl is the Rose, which hosts on January 1st except for years when it hosts the title game. The Elite Bowl Series currently consists of:
- Texas Bowl: The Texas Bowl is typically hosted on January 1st or 2nd in Dallas. It was selected as the site for the 2009-10 championship game in 2007 by the Elite Bowl Series conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The 2010 championship game pitted Virginia against Pacifica, and the Virginia Cavaliers won 28-20 in an epic game. The Texas Bowl is an extremely prestigious bowl in non-championship years; they have a tradition of typically choosing a No. 3-ranked team that is not participating in the national championship hunt and pairing them against a conference champion or runner-up; this is doable because the Texas Bowl has typical first choice of teams after the National Championship game.
- Rose Bowl: The Rose Bowl is hosted in Los Angeles on January 1st every year except for when it hosts the National Championship (the last time was the 2001 matchup between Washington and Mississippi). The Rose Bowl typically pairs off the PCC and Lakes champions if possible, or will take a runner-up from those conferences. In 2010, the Rose Bowl will feature Lakes champion Huron against PCC-runner up San Diego. Huron defeated San Diego 42-14.
- Paradise Bowl: The Paradise Bowl has no conference commitments; the La Paz-hosted game, typically on December 30th or 31st, chooses either a Mountain League or PCC squad to matchup against an Atlantic or Northeastern team. In 2009, Paradise will once again select Oregon as its PCC representative, and invite the Michigan Wolverines as their opponent, making this the first time in fourteen years the Rose and Paradise bowls have both welcomed PCC and Lakes teams the same year in a non-championship year. Oregon beat Michigan in triple overtime, 52-49
- Silver Bowl: The Silver Bowl is also known as the "traveling bowl"; it was hosted between its inaugural season in 1945 to 1975 in San Francisco, but once the Paradise Bowl began, the Silver Bowl abandoned the Bay Area for St. Louis, until it once again moved, this time to Covenant in 1993. In 2010, the Silver Bowl will pit the Massachusetts Minutemen against the Sequoyah Braves in what promises to be an excellent matchup. Massachusetts defeated Sequoyah 24-14 in legendary coach Harrison Ford's last game.
- Sugar Bowl: The Sugar Bowl is hosted on January 2nd every year (except when it hosts a national championship game). The Sugar Bowl pits the Southern Conference champion against typically a Central or Atlantic Conference opponent. On January 2nd, 2010, the Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Kahokia Thundering Herd 27-21.
- Manhattan Bowl: The Manhattan Bowl is played in New Jersey every January 3rd, except for the years when it hosts a national championship (last one being the 2002 Virginia victory over Apachia). The Manhattan Bowl puts the NEC Champion against a Lakes team every year in a non-national title year - because the Massachusetts Minutemen accepted their Silver Bowl bid instead of their automatic slot in the Manhattan Bowl, the Nova Scotia Sea Lions instead played the Iowa Hawkeyes, a 37-20 Iowa victory.
- Orange Bowl: The Atlantic champion/runner-up traditionally goes to the Orange Bowl - even if offered a place in another bowl, Atlantic champions tend to have a strange loyalty to the beloved Orange Bowl in Miami. In 2009, the Florida State Seminoles beat the UCLA Bruins 17 to 3.
- Peach Bowl: Pitting a Southern team against an Atlantic team, the Peach Bowl is played every December 30th - and in 2009, the LSU Tigers routed the South Carolina Gamecocks to the tune of 34 to 7. The Atlanta-based Peach Bowl was also the site of UMass's national title win over Alabama the previous year.
- Chicago Bowl: A Lakes team and a Central or Southern team traditionally battle at the Lake Michigan Dome in Chicago every New Year's Eve with a noon kickoff (of course, this does not apply to national championship years). In 2009, the New Years Noon Classic pitted Indiana against Texas, a stunning and surprising 42 to 0 Hoosier victory.
- Citrus Bowl: The Citrus Bowl is played every year in Havana, CU at its namesake, the historic Citrus Bowl. The Citrus Bowl pits an NEC team against an at-large team, typically from SouthCo, Atlantic or Mountain (varying on the year). The Citrus Bowl signed its contract with the NEC largely with the intention of offering fans of cold-weather NEC schools an opportunity to come to a warm-weather site in Cuba for the bowl season.
The Victory March
In the final game of the 1985 season, the Aroostook Golden Eagles came to the University of Massachusetts on the outskirts of Boston to face off against their hated archnemesis. At the time, Aroostook was ranked No. 2 in the country, and U-Mass was ranked 19th. Aroostook was led by fiery coach Don Trump, who had organized what was without a question his best team since coming to the program. Quarterback John Franck was a frontrunner for the Bosch Trophy and linebacker Ryan Bumpkiss was the leading tackler in the country.
U-Mass, meanwhile, was riding a two-game losing streak, including a blowout loss at defending national champion Nova Scotia the week before. While once considered a trendy pick for the national title, U-Mass had fallen to third in their conference and with a loss to Aroostook would not only allow their arch-rival a spot in the title bout with Michigan, but also lose out on a chance to go to a top-tier bowl. Starting quarterback Dan Conway had thrown five interceptions in the past two games, and had not thrown a touchdown pass since October. Jim Spencer, the runningback, was the team's spiritual and statistical leader, having saved the team in numerous grind-out games with lesser opponents.
Trump's team played well in the first half, but still only held a 17-10 halftime advantage. A Minutemen field goal brought the game within four points after a long, defensive third quarter. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Conway was hit by Golden Eagles defensive lineman Jim Deeny and knocked out of the game with a separated shoulder. True freshman Kirk Fletcher, one of the highest-touted recruits on the East Coast in high school, sputtered on the next two series.
The Golden Eagles drove downfield, but their field goal attempt soared wide left. With only three and minutes left in the fourth quarter, after what should have been a game-clincher missed, Fletcher took the field and orchestrated, in his first-ever college game, what some consider one of the greatest drives of all time.
Fletcher completed four of six passes and Spencer carried the ball three times as the Minutemen drove from their own thirty-three yard line to the Golden Eagles eight. Fletcher was sacked on first-and-goal, pushing the Minutemen back to the twelve with seven seconds left. Fletcher responded by throwing a pass to a surprisingly wide-open Luke Preston, who had dropped a pass earlier on the drive, and scoring on the twelve-yard strike. The Minutemen won, 20-17.
The students rushed the field, Harrison Ford was doused in a water bath, Franck famously sulked off of the field, and the Golden Eagles settled for the Silver Bowl instead of the title bout they had dreamed of. Arkansas, in an eerily similar game, knocked off heavy favorites Michigan to win the national title a little over a month later.
Kirk Fletcher, Luke Preston and Jim Spencer were immortalized in Massachusetts, and college football, lore. The Victory March capped one of the all-time upsets (the 1985 Aroostook team was considered the finest team assembled in the program's storied history) in college football, and paved the way for Minutemen titles in 1986 and '88, years in which Spencer and Fletcher would take home Bosch trophies. Preston is regarded as one of the best receivers to ever play the game, and his number, 83, is one of the most popular worn by wideouts (2007 Bosch winner Mike Foster explained that he wore 83 as a tribute to his childhood hero).
It is hailed as one of the greatest plays of all time - the 1999 trick play by the Oregon Ducks to beat the Cal Bears in the PCC Championship Game.
The Ducks led 27-23 with a minute to go in the fourth quarter, and Bears quarterback Daniel Evans was driving downfield in a fury. With only seventeen seconds left in the game, the Bears scored on a play-action pass from Evans to Kevin Jones. The Score was now 29-27. Cal head coach Jim Tosher elected to go for a two-point conversion, and the play succeeded, with a pass from Evans to tight end Cameron DeCasti. 31-27.
The Bears kicked the ball off soon thereafter and the Ducks wound up with the ball on their own twenty-two yard line with seven seconds left in the game. The Bears dropped seven men back into deep coverage, so Oregon head coach Marty Buhl drew up a genius trick play. Quarterback Isaac Waughrie dropped back and threw a deep bomb in the direction of Stuart Cole - only there was no ball in the air. The ball was behind him, and star running back Andre Shipley snatched it up and tore around to the outside, using blocks from several receivers (the Ducks had lined up with five wideouts) to avoid safeties. He scampered the entire seventy-eight yards to score as the clock ran out. The Ducks did not kick an extra point, and the final score was 33-31.
The celebration on the Oregon sideline was insane, and the Bears stood in stunned silence, many of them having already donned conference championship hats - in fact, Tosher had already been doused in water to celebrate the victory. It marked the first and last time that opposing head coaches shook at midfield having both received a water bath. It is considered one of the most stunning plays of all time, and capped off a great game that wasn't quite an upset (the Ducks had been 1.5 point favorites). Shipley would graduate and continue his stellar career helping the Sahalee Storm win three straight WFA titles (2002-2004) as a professional.
The date was January 13th, 2002 - the latest a college football national championship game has been held, due to an NCAA workers strike in December that shot all the bowl games back. The Mississippi Falcons and Washington Huskies were facing each other for the first time in history, and were a lucrative No.1-2 matchup. The Falcons were a bombs-away team, pioneering a run-n-gun offense that had put up gaudy stats. Their speedy quarterback, Julious Everridge, had won the Bosch trophy given to the most outstanding college player of the season, and every quarterback award as a senior. The Huskies, meanwhile, were a defensive-oriented team, and their head coach, Daniel Price, ran a conservative, traditional power offense. Both teams were undefeated.
The Falcons dominated the first half, scoring 14 unanswered points and led 14-3 at halftime. On the opening play of the third quarter, Huskies quarterback Mike Plutarski led a 16-play, 8:45 minute drive to score a touchdown on a one-yard quarterback dive. The Falcons punted on the next series and the teams entered a defensive struggle for the rest of the quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Falcons raced down the field but failed to score on three attempts from inside the Husky 4. They settled for a field goal as well. The Huskies executed a brilliant seven-play drive for 79 yards to score a touchdown when a missed tackle turned into a 29-yard reception for Michael Tyler from Plutarski. The Falcons and Huskies were now tied.
The Falcons, with five minutes left, drove down to the Washington 21, but their field goal flew wide right. Washington took over now with just over two minutes remaining. Price wanted to go for overtime, and was preparing his coaches and defense in case it were to happen. Plutarski, meanwhile, worked his team down the field with short throws and passes and solid running from his committee of tailbacks to get the Huskies down to the Mississippi 32 with five seconds left on the clock. UW kicker Nick Early came out and nailed the forty-two yard field goal straight down the uprights as time expired as Washington won their first-ever national championship in a huge upset off of a legendary kick.
2006 Cascade Clash
One of the most notorious, controversial, embarrassing and tragic episodes in college football history overshadows what was a great game in a classic, heated rivalry. With the PacState Ravens leading Pacifica 27-20 late in the fourth quarter, Orcas senior running back Roland Jamison scored on a short hitch from Nick Allen from five yards out with thirty seconds remaining to send the game into overtime. The Ravens were tied at 8-1 with the Washington Huskies at the time and had a legitimate shot at a PCC title if they could beat Washington the next week at home, but first had to beat their hated rivals on the road in Sahalee. The 6-3 Orcas were upset minded going into overtime, and won the first toss. They were stopped on three downs but kicked a field goal. PacState tried twice for the endzone behind star quarterback Jimmy Allison, who had been neck-in-neck with Alabama quarterback Vince Young all season in the Bosch trophy discussion. On third down, after a false start penalty moved the ball back, Ravens head coach Art Grimes elected to kick a field goal, and sent the game to double overtime.
Pacifica won the toss again and receiver Josh Oliver ran down to the one-yard line on a reverse. Jamison plunged in for the score on the next play. The Ravens made it thirteen yards on three plays, and Allison threw a tight spiral to tight end Nick Branch in the back of the endzone on fourth down - but the play was called back due to alleged pass interference, and the Orcas won the game.
As the Orca faithful stormed the field, the Ravens student section - a record crowd for an away game, even in the heated Cascade Clash - stormed the field and parking lot as well. What started as a euphoric celebration on the field of Royal Way Stadium turned into a massive, violent riot, which spilled over into the parking lot. Fans of the opposing teams got into violent brawls and millions of dollars of property damage ensued. 17 people were killed during the riot, making it a nationally significant event, and the vandalism on the University of Pacifica campus required extensive renovation. Orcas head coach Gene Craig was given a black eye by a PacState fan as he tried to get off the field safely after his hurried post-game handshake with Art Grimes. Several Ravens and Orcas players had to ward off fans with their helmets as they fought their way to their locker rooms.
The incident created an NCAA investigation and PacState officials, cognizant that their fans had instigated the damages to U-Pac and that it was primarily Orca fans and players who had been targeted in the violence, clamped down on tailgating and overhauled their campus drinking policy. U-Pac ceased the leasing of stadium lots to tailgaters for the 2007 season, but reopened one of the Royal Way lots in 2008.
PacState would go on to lose to Washington the next week in the season finale, dropping to 9-3 and shut out of the PCC title game. Pacifica would eventually finish with the same record as their hated rival. The 2007 Cascade Clash was the most policed college football game in the history of the sport the next year, and the Ravens have not posted a season above 6-6 ever since.
The Cheney Bowl
December 31st, 2008: The Paradise Bowl in La Paz was the last bowl game of the year 2008, held at 5:00 PM Western time so that the East Coast could watch the game then celebrate New Years immediately afterwards. But this was not the storyline: this was a matchup between Dick Cheney, the former Virginia head coach who stepped down after the 2006 season due to rapidly declining health, and his former coordinators from his final 2006 run.
When Cheney had his heart attack on December 14th, 2006, he had lost his final game of the season to North Carolina a week earlier, thus dropping his Cavaliers to 10-2 and thus out of the national title discussion. Following that loss, defensive coordinator Suzuki Yamata was given the head coaching job by the Oregon Ducks. The Cavaliers were coached in the 2006 Texas Bowl by Jeff Bryce, Cheney's young offensive coordinator, who was given the head coaching position after Cheney announced his retirement following the Texas Bowl victory over Huron - where Cheney had himself been defensive coordinator, which would have provided an excellent storyline for the game in what would have been his second bowl rematch against his former team.
The Paradise Bowl was significant in that it faced Bryce, who had led the Cavs to 8-4 records in 2007 and 2008, against Yamata and the Ducks - who Yamata had resurrected from their depths of 3-9 in 2006 to 6-6 the next year and now 8-4 in 2008. The two former Cheney pupils were going to face off.
This made the game an intriguing matchup - Virginia ran the same offense Yamata's defense had practiced against in scrimmages, and vice versa for Bryce. They each knew the weaknesses and the plays of the other's game plan.
As expected, the game turned into a wild shootout. Oregon, as predicted, knew many of the Virginia audibles and formations that Yamata prepared them for, and Virginia knew exactly how to exploit the Ducks' defensive schemes. The true battle was between the Oregon offense and the Virginia defense. The final score wound up being 42-38 in favor of Virginia - star Cavalier running back Donald Brown scored a touchdown in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter on a screen pass from quarterback Brady Allen. It is considered an all-time classic not just because of the back-and-forth scoring (in the second quarter, there were four consecutive possessions that resulted in a touchdown) but because it pitted two coaches with inside knowledge of each others system against one another.
After the game, both coaches, who were close friends during their time together in Charlottesville, hosted a post-game party for both teams together, where Cheney was invited, the first time in history a winning and losing team from a bowl game have come together afterwards.
Cheney would die the ensuing March, inspiring Virginia's undefeated season in 2009 and their berth in the upcoming championship game in the 2010 Texas Bowl against Pacifica. Oregon finished 8-4 again in 2009 with a third-place Pacific Coast finish behind Pacifica and UC-San Diego, placing them in the Paradise Bowl yet again.