The time for talking is almost over, and tonight we'll find out if the shrinking spread on this season's BCS Title game and the last minute rush by some to the Texas Longhorn bandwagon is a harbinger of things to come. Me personally, I think Nick Saban dials up some exotic blitz packages that give Colt McCoy flashbacks to the Big XII Title game, but that's me. I'm a little crazy.
At any rate, one thing we do know is that there will be a Most Valuable Player tonight (actually two, one on offense and one on defense). The question is will it be your run of the mill, here-today gone-tomorrow title game performance, or will the MVP tonight etch their name into college football history alongside these folks -- I give you the Five Most Dominant Performances in a College Football Title Game...
(DISCLAIMER: These do not include title games at any level below Division 1-A. No disrespect to other levels of college football, but it's hard enough to research games for which it is actually easy to Google box scores and unearth Youtube clips. I only have so many hours in the day, people.)
5. ANDRE JOHNSON, 2002 ROSE BOWL
Before he was dominating fools here in Houston, Andre Johnson was part of maybe the most ridiculous collection of NFL talent in one era ever -- the Butch Davis Miami Hurricanes. Amazingly, this group only won one national title and, ironically, it wasn't even on Davis' watch. Instead Larry Coker won the equivalent of the college football Power Ball lottery when he was asked to "just not screw it up." Well, in 2001, he obliged with Miami knocking off a Nebraska Cornhusker squad that was best known for two things -- one, Eric Crouch's ridiculous circa-1985 center-part feathered hair, and two, getting to the title game despite not even playing for the title of their own conference. (Colorado won the Big XII North that season.)
Anyway, Dre had seven catches for exactly 200 yards in a game that was not as close as the 37-14 final score would indicate. Nebraska hasn't been the same since.
4. DWAYNE JARRETT/STEVE SMITH, 2005 ORANGE BOWL
USC was coming into this game with a bit of a chip on their shoulder for a couple reasons. First, they were left out of the national championship game in 2003, snubbed for an Oklahoma team that -- stop me if you've heard this before -- made the title game without even winning their own conference. (The Trojans managed to get some justice with a split title thanks to the Associated Press poll, but still...come on.)
Second, Oklahoma's Larry Birdine decided it was a good idea to talk about what an overrated quarterback he thought USC's Hesiman winner Matt Leinart was -- never mind that Birdine's own Heisman-winning quarterback Jason White may have been the most overrated quarterback of the decade. Leinart took out his frustrations with a first half four-touchdown pass barrage that led to an eventual 55-19 pasting by the Trojans. Leinart completed eighteen passes on the day and twelve of them went to the combination of Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith (for 228 yards), neither of whom the Sooners could stop.
3. PETER WARRICK, 2000 SUGAR BOWL
Florida State entered the 1999 season looking to do something they had never done -- go wire to wire for a national championship. Up to that point, the storied career of Bobby Bowden included a slew of Top 5 finishes and a somewhat tainted national title in 1993, when the Noles lost to Notre Dame head-to-head yet still managed to finish ahead of a one-loss Irish squad in the polls.
Peter Warrick was the name on the marquee that season for the Seminoles, but for parts of the season it was for the wrong reasons, what with Warrick getting caught up in a "me no likey pay for stuff" scandal at a local shopping mall. A two-game suspension derailed Warrick's Heisman hopes, but he managed to remind everyone that he may have been college football's most electrifying player that season by catching two long touchdown passes and returning a punt for a score in a 46-29 win over Virginia Tech.
(The Hokies that season were led by Michael Vick who may have been even more electrifying than Warrick that night in a losing effort. Perhaps feeling slighted, Vick outdid Warrick's little shopping spree about a hundred-fold years later when he decided to make his backyard the Mandalay Bay of dog fighting.)
2. TOMMIE FRAZIER, 1996 FIESTA BOWL
Before there was Tim Tebow becoming the perfect quarterback to fit a specific system, there was Tommie Frazier who almost seemed like he was designed in a laboratory somewhere to run Tom Osborne's option offense. Before Steve Spurrier's Florida Gators could win a title in 1996, they had to go through their hazing in 1995 at the hands of Frazier and Nebraska. It wasn't pretty....
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1. VINCE YOUNG, 2006 ROSE BOWL
Over 200 yards passing and over 200 yards rushing and one of the ballsiest fourth-down runs you'll ever see. What else needs to be said?
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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.