Round of 32
(seed) year school - score
(95) 2000 Florida State - 26
Vince Young and Michael Griffin starred for Texas as they made a win over a loaded Florida State team that played for the national title look relatively easy.
Griffin picked off Chris Weinke twice as the Longhorns teamed up to contain a stellar FSU receiving corps made up of Marvin "Snoop" Minnis, Anquan Boldin, Atrews Bell, and Javon Walker. Weinke threw for 276 yards, but considering the talented receivers all over the field and the two interceptions - not to mention the victory - it was not a bad day at all for the Longhorns defense.
The Seminole defense, on the other hand, had a hard time containing Vince Young. All American defensive end Jamal Reynolds didn't get as many shots on the quarterback as he normally did during the 2000 season because Jonathan Scott, Justin Blalock and the rest of the offensive line provided excellent protection. Even when Reynolds or Darnell Dockett or David Warren did manage to penetrate the pocket, Young merely sidestepped the rush and scrambled for big chunks of yards. Young finished with 137 rushing yards to go along with his two touchdown passes to tight end David Thomas.
(18) 1994 Penn State - 24
(15) 1991 Miami - 27
In a matchup of undefeated teams, both had plenty of offensive firepower, but it was Penn State's lack of a top flight defense that cost them the game. To secure a spot in the Sweet Sixteen in The Greatest Tournament of All Time you've got to be loaded on both sides of the ball. Joe Paterno's squad simply couldn't make enough stops in the fourth quarter to pull out a win.
Kerry Collins and the passing game kept the Nittany Lions in contention for much of the ball game, though. In fact, Bobby Engram burned All American safety Darryl Williams for a 37-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter to give Penn State a 7-3 lead. Collins threw for 257 yards, but Ki-Jana Carter couldn't balance out the offense, rushing for just 56 yards against Michael Barrow and the Miami defense.
On the other side of the ball, receiver Lamar Thomas torched the Penn State secondary to the tune of 5 receptions for 143 yards and 2 touchdowns, both coming in the second half.
(10) 2004 USC - 31
(87) 1983 Nebraska - 30
In one of the best games of the tournament so far, 2004 USC edged out 1983 Nebraska. In a game full of offensive fireworks, it was the USC defense that provided the play of the game.
There was plenty of chatter about a potential upset coming into this game. Many thought Nebraska's "Big Three" on offense - QB Turner Gill, RB Mike Rozier, and WR Irving Fryar - could score enough points to knock off the mighty Trojans. Well, USC answered the bell by jumping out to a quick, impressive 17-0 lead on the strength of a 45-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Bush and a 2-yard touchdown run by LenDale White.
Nebraska answered, though, when Turner Gill found adjusted to the speed of USC's defense and perfected the timing with Rozier on the option. Rozier took an option pitch 39 yards for a touchdown to get the Huskers back in the game. Then after a Bret Clark interception, Gill capped a 44-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run. Just like that it was a game again.
The second half featured more big plays, including a 60 yard touchdown pass from Matt Leinart to Steve Smith and a touchdown run by Nebraska offensive lineman Dean Steinkuhler on the famous "Fumblerooskie" play.
With USC leading 31-24 late in the fourth quarter, Turner Gill marched the Huskers down the field on an impressive 67 yard scoring drive that culminated in a 25-yard touchdown run by Jeff Smith. Instead of kicking the extra point to send the game to overtime, Tom Osborne, sensing that his team was getting worn down at the hands of the uber-athletic Trojans, decided to go for two and the win. Gill rolled right and fired, but cornerback Eric Wright made a great play to knock the ball away and secure the win for USC.
(26) 1997 Nebraska - 25
(7) 1987 Miami - 26
In the tournament's first battle of undefeated National Champions, Jimmy Johnson's 1987 Hurricanes emerged victorious over Tom Osborne's 1997 Cornhuskers.
This was a defensive battle for most of the game. Miami was the first team ever to hold this Nebraska team to under 300 yards rushing, and linebacker Randy Shannon secured two points for the Hurricanes when he tackled Ahman Green in the end zone after he muffed an option toss from Scott Frost.
The Nebraska defense held strong too, with Grant Wistrom and Jason Peter making things difficult for quarterback Steve Walsh (11-for-27 for 178 yards) all day. But receiver Michael Irvin simply willed his team to victory with a pair of tackle-shedding touchdown catch-and-runs that will be replayed over and over if the '87 Hurricanes continue to advance in this tournament.
Sweet 16 Matchups:
(2) 2005 Texas vs (15) 1991 Miami
(7) 1987 Miami vs (10) 2004 USC