Saturday, February 22, 2014

Third First-Time Champ in Three Years

FIRST ROUND (seeding in parentheses): Louisiana-Lafayette (24) 28, Fresno State (9) 14; Oklahoma State (16) 13, Clemson (17) 8; Oklahoma (13) 31, Rice (20) 13; Louisville (12) 42, Duke (21) 10; Arizona State (14) 36, Ball State (19) 24; Bowling Green State (22) 35, Missouri (11) 29; Oregon (18) 21, South Carolina (15) 14; Stanford (10) 14, UCLA (23) 13

SECOND ROUND: Florida State (1) 56, Louisiana-Lafayette 28; Central Florida (8) 21, Oklahoma State 14; Oklahoma 31, Ohio State (5) 28; Louisville 35, Northern Illinois (4) 14; Alabama (6) 28, Arizona State 14; Michigan State (3) 28, Bowling Green State 14; Baylor (7) 28, Oregon 23; Stanford 37, Auburn (2) 27

QUARTERFINAL ROUND: Florida State 49, Central Florida 21; Louisville 49, Oklahoma 7; Michigan State 20, Alabama 0; Baylor 26, Stanford 0

SEMIFINAL ROUND: Louisville 25, Florida State 22; Baylor 21, Michigan State 14 (2 OT)

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Baylor 35, Louisville 28 

Yep...Baylor is the third team in as many seasons to pick up its first-ever NCAA Division 1-A football playoff title (following Notre Dame in 2012 and Oregon the year before). What's more, Art Briles' Bears became the first Big 12 team since the since-departed Cornhuskers of Nebraska (in 1999- their sixth and most recent championship) to nail it all down. 

How 'bout some highlights?

FIRST ROUND: Mark Helfrich's Ducks pulled it out against Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks with 2:51 to play in the fourth quarter, when QB Marcus Mariota fired a three-yard touchdown pass to WR Josh Huff (Oregon went 12-for-17 on third down); Dave Clawson's Falcons got help from their special teams to overcome a 21-14 Missouri lead with 21 unanswered second-half points (to embarrass Tigers head coach Gary Pinkel, who previously headed up Toledo, one of Bowling Green State's MAC foes), and BGSU's defense thwarted a Mizzou effort to pull this game out in the final minute of regulation; Bob Stoops' Sooners totaled 605 yards of offense (WR Jalen Saunders caught six balls for 205 yards and three TDs) to cook Rice (David Bailiff's team, which blew a 13-7 Owl lead); razzle-dazzle let Mike Gundy's Cowboys beat Dabo Swinney's Tigers when QB Clint Chelf caught the game-winning 47-yard TD toss from his understudy, J.W. Walsh, with 11 ticks to go in the fourth; QB Teddy Bridgewater (27-43-293 with an interception) launched four TD strikes and ran for another score...while Cardinal defenders chipped in by snatching five Blue Devil tosses (a pair of Louisville picks were by CB Terrell Floyd) to spoil Duke's first 1-A playoff game; QB Terrence Broadway made a splash with a 15-21-200 showing that featured three air scores and an INT to help Mark Hudspeth's Ragin' Cajuns, who were flagged down just ONCE (for five yards, at that), move on; Todd Graham's Sun Devils outran Pete Lembo's Cardinals, 324-69, with Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly running 25 times for 114 yards and a TD while going 22-for-30 for 199 yards and- you guessed it- three TDs; David Shaw's Cardinal led all the way...but almost lost it with 0:33 to play in the final quarter: After flicking a 17-yard air score to WR Shaquelle Evans, Bruin QB Brett Hundley tried to run for the winning two-point conversion...but was stopped at the Stanford one.

More highlights to come!