It's almost here. After wading through the sludge of bowl season, with just one more "go get me some popcorn" match left tonight between Troy and Central Michigan (Admit it, ninety percent of you reading this have no idea what state "Troy" is in), finally tomorrow Alabama and Texas will meet for all of the marbles.
I have already gone on record with my thoughts on this game -- my human eyes tell me that Alabama is the better, more well-rounded team. Recent history, though, actually favors the Longhorns.
For those who are into these sorts of things, you know that Texas is the underdog in this game; well, underdog has been a nice label to wear during this bowl season, as the dogs have been crushing it not only against the spread, but winning more than their fair share outright.
On top of that, Alabama has a fellow named Mark Ingram playing running back for them, and in December he took home a piece of hardware called the Heisman Trophy. I'm not sure how many of you have noticed, but toting the Heisman Trophy into a championship game has been the equivalent of bringing along Michael Scott as your wingman to a club in Manhattan.
However, much the same way there is a sick part of me that would actually enjoy partying with Michael Scott, I am sticking with my Alabama pick, but not before reminding myself of the five biggest championship game implosions in recent college football history. As you'll see, oftentimes to find championship game futility, just follow the scent of one John Heisman:
5. FLORIDA DEFENSE, 1996 FIESTA BOWL
I'm not sure that Tommie Frazier gets the credit he deserves as a winner and dominant "right place, right time, right system" guy. I mean, I think people categorize him as an all-time great, but we've all been so Tebow-ized these last four years, we forget that dominance existed before bible verses were scrawled on eye black. Anyway, before Tebow became the ultimate right place/right system guy, there was Frazier...ironically, carving up the Florida defense in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl to the tune of 199 yards and one of the all-time highlight reel runs. Check it out....
4. CHRIS WEINKE, 2001 ORANGE BOWL
Before the 2001 Orange Bowl in the coin toss, OU linebacker Torrance Marshall was telling FSU quarterback Chris Weinke,"You got my boy's trophy!" He was referring to Heisman runner-up OU quarterback Josh Heupel. That night, Weinke did everything but give the trophy back to Heupel by laying an egg in a 13-2 loss to the Sooners. Weinke threw for 274 yards, but couldn't get the ball into the end zone. Bonus futility points for Weinke also for being like ten years older than everyone else on the field and still sucking like a Hoover vacuum cleaner.
3. JASON WHITE, 2004 SUGAR BOWL
Perhaps the most nondescript Heisman winner since Gino Toretta, Jason White came back from like twelve knee surgeries to lead the Sooners back to the championship game in successive years, meaning that he is the one candidate who gives us multiple plates of suck off of the suck buffet. His 2005 Orange Bowl performance was pretty wretched; hell, the Sooners were all terrible that night, which may best be remembered for Ashlee Simpson getting booed off the field at halftime. But as bad as White was against USC, he was Fran Tarkenton compared to the 2004 Sugar Bowl against LSU where LSU blitzed the ever-loving hell out of him and forced him into 102 yards passing and two picks.
2. TROY SMITH, 2007 BCS TITLE GAME
People forget that before Ohio State became "that slow team from the MIdwest that gets housed in BCS bowl games," they were actually pretty good in big games. The cycle of the glacial-speed stigma began in the 2007 BCS Title Game, where the Florida Gators harassed, bum-rushed, and ransacked Heisman winner Troy Smith into a four-completion, 35-yard nightmare performance. This game will also be remembered as the dawning of the Age of Tebow, and the three wise men bestowed upon him a big glass egg.
1. VINNY TESTAVERDE, 1987 FIESTA BOWL
The Mona Lisa of Heisman winner, turnover-laden, big game choke jobs. The 1987 Fiesta Bowl was actually before bowl games tried to cooperate to arrange a matchup of the two best teams in the country. Back in 1987, the bowls all had conference tie-ins and it was a land rush to sign up opponents in the open slots opposite those conference tie-ins. Sometimes, teams knew where they were bowling in mid-November! Well, in 1987, Miami and Penn State were both independents and the Fiesta Bowl, looking to make a splash, had no conference affiliations, so they were able to arrange the matchup like it was a prize fight. And it was.
Miami showed up in fatigues and played the role of the heel to a T. Penn State played their role as the underdog with particular aplomb as well. In the end, it was the arm of Vinny Testaverde and his five picks that sent the Hurricanes home packing -- plain and simple, one of the all-time great implosions ever. The Grandaddy of Implosions, really.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 PM weekdays on the Sean & John Show, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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