Miami to meet Ohio State for national title

Posted: Sunday, December 08, 2002

Miami and Ohio State are set for the national title game, and both Washington State and Georgia were added to the Bowl Championship Series invitation list on Saturday.

Notre Dame? Even with their huge national following, prestige and marketing clout, the Fighting Irish probably won't be a part of college football's four biggest games -- and the $13 million payout they carry.

Top-ranked Miami took care of its last regular-season obstacle, reaching the Fiesta Bowl by holding off No. 18 Virginia Tech 56-45. Willis McGahee bolstered his Heisman chances by running for a school-record six touchdowns and a career-best 205 yards.

While the final BCS standings won't be out until Sunday, the national-title game on Jan. 3 is all but certain to pair the only unbeatens left in Division I-A: Miami (12-0) against No. 2 Ohio State (13-0).

The rest of the BCS landscape could have changed vastly with an upset or two Saturday, but Washington State and Georgia took away the drama with comfortable victories: The seventh-ranked Cougars beat UCLA 48-27, while the fourth-ranked Bulldogs routed No. 22 Arkansas 30-3 in the SEC championship game.

Washington State (10-2) will represent the Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl, probably against Oklahoma (11-2), which beat Colorado 29-7 in the Big 12 title game.

The Bulldogs (12-1) are in the Sugar Bowl, probably against Southern California (10-2). The Orange Bowl likely will match ACC champion Florida State (9-4) against Iowa (11-1), the second-best team from the Big Ten.

That scenario would leave out 10-2 Notre Dame, despite the suspicion among many fans around the country that the Irish would get into a BCS game -- even with a No. 10 BCS ranking -- because of their drawing power.

The Irish probably will head to the Gator Bowl against North Carolina State.

No. 1 Miami 56, No. 18 Va. Tech 45

MIAMI -- The Hurricanes took care of business, and their Heisman hopeful duo of Willis McGahee and Ken Dorsey made a good final impression for the voters.

McGahee's six rushing TDs broke Miami's single-game TD record set by Bill L'Italien in 1933, and Dorsey passed for 300 yards and two TDs, improving to 38-1 as the Hurricanes' starter.

The 'Canes will take a 34-game winning streak to Tempe, Ariz., a run that matches Penn for the sixth-longest in Division I-A history. Miami's streak is the longest since Toledo won 35 straight from 1969-71.

Miami will attempt to become only the second team to repeat as national champions since 1980 and first since Nebraska won back-to-back crowns in 1994-95. The Hurricanes have won five national titles since 1983, under four coaches.

Miami seemingly had control with a 49-21 lead early in the third quarter, but the Hokies (9-4) came up with three big plays to pull within striking distance and then hung in until the end.

No. 4 Georgia 30, No. 22 Arkansas 3

ATLANTA -- The Bulldogs didn't appear deflated, even after learning that Miami had taken them out of the national championship race by beating Virginia Tech earlier in the day.

Georgia ended 20 years of frustration by blowing out Arkansas in the SEC title game, sending the Bulldogs to the Sugar Bowl.

Clearly pumped up by their first trip to the conference championship, the Bulldogs (12-1) scored on their first five possessions for a 23-0 halftime lead.

From there, Georgia cruised to its first SEC title since 1982, when Vince Dooley was the coach and Herschel Walker was taking handoffs. The coronation came just 75 miles from the Athens campus, before a crowd of 75,835 that was heavily tilted toward the Bulldogs.

Musa Smith rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns. David Greene threw for 237 yards and score, earning the game's MVP award. Terrence Edwards had seven catches for 92 yards, becoming the SEC's career leader in receiving yards.

Arkansas (9-4) had won six in a row to earn its second trip to the league championship game. But this one wasn't much different than the first in 1995, when the Razorbacks were blown out by Florida 34-3.

No. 7 Washington St. 48, UCLA 27

PASADENA, Calif. -- Jason Gesser and the Washington State Cougars earned a Rose Bowl berth in spite of themselves.

Gesser, wearing braces on his sprained right knee and ankle, passed for 247 yards and two touchdowns as the Cougars beat UCLA 48-27 Saturday to get to the Rose Bowl for just the third time.

WSU won despite botching a fake field goal and an onside kick, and getting a field goal blocked. One poorly thrown pass by Gesser was intercepted by Ben Emanuel and returned for a touchdown, and another one was picked off by Emanuel in the UCLA end zone.

But the offense did its part, and the Cougars' speedy defense and special teams proved too much for the Bruins.

WSU (10-2, 7-1 Pac-10) played in the Rose Bowl following the 1931 and 1997 seasons.

Freshman Drew Olson threw for 163 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for UCLA (7-5, 4-4), which is headed to a lower-tier bowl. Another freshman, Tyler Ebell, was held to 10 yards on nine carries.

No. 8 Oklahoma 29, No. 12 Colorado 7

HOUSTON -- Nate Hybl threw two touchdowns passes and Quentin Griffin rushed for a championship game-record 188 yards and two touchdowns as the Sooners wrapped up a BCS berth by routing Colorado in the Big 12 title game.

The victory probably will send Oklahoma (11-2) to the Rose Bowl against Washington State (10-2).

The Sooners beat Kansas State for the Big 12 title in 2000 and went on to beat Florida State in the Orange Bowl for the national championship.

Brian Calhoun, starting for injured running back Chris Brown, ran for 122 yards for the Buffaloes, who were trying to become the first back-to-back Big 12 champions after last year's 39-37 victory over Texas.

But Hybl's TD passes to Trent Smith and Mark Clayton put the Sooners up 13-0. After Colorado got within six points on Jeremy Bloom's 80-yard punt return for a score, Oklahoma ran off 16 straight points to seal it.

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