Sooners romp in Rose Bowl; Notre Dame, Penn State fall

Roses are OK

Posted: Thursday, January 02, 2003

Oklahoma got off to a real rosy start on New Year's Day and Georgia was equally successful.

Not so for Notre Dame, Mike Price and Larry Johnson.

MVP Nate Hybl threw two touchdown passes and Quentin Griffin ran for 144 yards and a score as the No. 8 Sooners made their first trip to the Rose Bowl a memorable one, romping past Washington State 34-14 Wednesday.

''It's fairy tale-ish. It hasn't sunk in yet,'' Hybl said.

Hired two weeks ago by Alabama, Price stuck around for one last game as Washington State's coach. The seventh-ranked Cougars were held to a season-low 243 yards.

''It's not the way we wanted to end it, by any means,'' he said. ''It's a disappointing way to finish.''

''I'm sure I'll get my fair share of the blame for that, which is OK. I just wanted to do everything I could to help the team win.''

With MVP Musa Smith running for 145 yards, No. 4 Georgia set a school record for wins by defeating No. 16 Florida State 26-13 in the Sugar Bowl.

The Bulldogs (13-1) capped a breakthrough season in which sophomore coach Mark Richt steered the program back to national prominence.

Richt even got the satisfaction of beating his former boss. He served 14 years on Bobby Bowden's staff at Florida State before moving to Georgia in 2001.

But a season that began with such great promise for Notre Dame ended in its sixth straight bowl loss.

The No. 11 Irish were undone by the razzle-dazzle of North Carolina State, losing 28-6 in the Gator Bowl, one of six bowls played during the day.

''It's still a very good season,'' first-year coach Tyrone Willingham said. ''At the same time, we have to become accustomed to winning our last game, whether it's the regular season or a bowl game.''

Johnson, who finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting, had a disappointing day for No. 10 Penn State. He was held to only 72 yards on 20 carries as No. 19 Auburn won 13-9 in the Capital One Bowl.

Johnson later groused that the Nittany Lions' offense was ''trying to be too cute'' instead of just giving it to him. But Auburn didn't care to hear any complaining.

''He can stay up there and be Penn State's savior if he wants,'' defensive end Reggie Torbor said. ''At Auburn, he probably wouldn't play. He'd probably be on defense.''

In other bowl games, it was No. 22 Michigan 38, No. 12 Florida 30 in the Outback Bowl and No. 9 Texas 35, LSU 20 in the Cotton Bowl.

Sugar Bowl No. 4 Georgia 26, No. 16 Florida State 13

At New Orleans, Bruce Thornton returned an interception for a score, backup quarterback D.J. Shockley threw a TD pass and Georgia stymied shorthanded Florida State.

Billy Bennett added four field goals as the Bulldogs went conservative, throwing a season-low 15 passes.

With Adrian McPherson kicked off the team for allegedly stealing a check and Chris Rix suspended after oversleeping and missing a final exam, Fabian Walker made his first start at quarterback for Florida State (9-5).

Walker threw two interceptions and lost a fumble, and the Seminoles turned to star receiver Anquan Boldin to replace Walker.

Rose Bowl No. 8 Oklahoma 34, No. 7 Washington St. 14

At Pasadena, Calif., the Sooners shut down star quarterback Jason Gesser, intercepting two passes.

Oklahoma (12-2) led 27-0 midway through the fourth quarter behind Hybl and Griffin.

Hybl, like Griffin playing his final game, was 19-of-29 for 240 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Griffin, who had 1,740 yards during the regular season, carried 30 times and scored the Sooners' final touchdown on a 19-yard run.

Outback Bowl No. 12 Michigan 38, No. 22 Florida 30

At Tampa, Fla., Chris Perry became the first player in Michigan's storied history to score four touchdowns in a bowl. The junior tailback also accounted for 193 yards -- 85 rushing and 108 receiving.

His last two touchdowns lifted the Wolverines (10-3) from a two-point deficit to a 35-23 lead in the third quarter. Then Michigan held on.

Playing in possibly his last game for Florida (8-5), junior Rex Grossman threw for 323 yards and two scores. With the Gators trailing 38-30 but moving downfield with a minute left, coach Ron Zook called for a trick play from the Michigan 27.

Freshman cornerback-turned-receiver Vernell Brown took the ball on a reverse and, under heavy pressure, lobbed a poor pass that was intercepted by Victor Hobson to seal the victory.

Cotton Bowl No. 9 Texas 35, LSU 20

At Dallas, the Texas Longhorns rallied from an early 10-point deficit behind Roy Williams. He turned a short slant into a 51-yard touchdown, went 75 yards after a leaping grab to set up another score and snaked 39 yards for a TD on an end around.

The Longhorns (11-2) trailed 17-7 three minutes into the second quarter, with the defense producing their lone score.

Chris Simms threw two touchdown pass as the Longhorns broke a five-game losing streak in the Dallas area, including four in a row at the Cotton Bowl stadium. LSU finished at 8-5.

Capital One Bowl No. 19 Auburn 13, No. 10 Penn St. 9

At Orlando, Fla., Ronnie Brown scored on a 17-yard touchdown run with 2:19 left to rally Auburn.

Brown ran 37 times for 184 yards and two touchdowns, and the Tigers (9-4) shut down Penn State (9-4).

Penn State's four losses came by a total of 20 points, as coach Joe Paterno failed to pad his NCAA record 20 bowl wins after a two-year postseason absence.

Gator Bowl No. 17 North Carolina St. 28, No. 11 Notre Dame 6

At Jacksonville, Fla., the No. 17 Wolfpack completed the best season in school history behind Philip Rivers.

Rivers completed 13 consecutive passes as N.C. State (11-3) scored three touchdowns in the second quarter, one on a fumblerooski and another set up by a flea-flicker.

The Irish (10-3) lost quarterback Carlyle Holiday to a separated left shoulder on their second possession and lost their temper with three personal fouls.

Coming off a 5-6 season, Notre Dame won its first eight games under Willingham and started thinking about a record ninth national championship. Instead, the Irish gave up a school-record 610 yards in a 44-13 loss to Southern California to wrap up the regular season and then stumbled against the Wolfpack.

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