Michigan’s Desmond Howard got a career’s-worth of national publicity against Ohio State Nov. 23 when he smiled broadly and struck the Heisman Trophy pose in the end zone at the end of a 93-yard punt return. Howard got a chance to look at the pose again Saturday. He wasn’t doing the smiling, though. When Washington cornerback Walter Bailey intercepted a long pass intended for Howard in the first quarter, Bailey bounced up from the turf and strutted his best Heisman stuff.
Not to be outdone, wide receiver Mario Bailey, after catching a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, did it again. Mario Bailey was the receiver with the Heisman-like day: he had six catches for 126 yards and a touchdown; Howard caught one pass for 35 yards.
Of course, Howard does have the trophy. Of Mario Bailey’s stunt, he said: “He’s invited to my house to look at the real thing.”
NOW, A WORD FROM . . .
For drama, it rivaled the 1963 Rose Bowl during which Wisconsin scored 23 points in the fourth quarter in a 42-37 loss to USC. East Carolina trailed North Carolina State, 34-17, midway through the fourth quarter, then scored 20 points for a 37-34 victory in the Peach Bowl at Atlanta.
Pirate quarterback Jeff Blake’s two-yard run made the score 34-24 with 7:26 to play, his 17-yard pass to Dion Johnson three minutes later at the end of an 80-yard drive cut the lead to 34-30, but a two-point conversion failed. East Carolina got the ball back with 2:37 remaining at North Carolina State’s 41-yard line. Blake began a drive to complete the most dramatic comeback of this year’s bowl season. His 22-yard pass to Luke Fisher, Blake’s fourth touchdown pass of the game, with 1:32 left gave the Pirates their best season in school history.
Apparently not everyone seemed to have a handle on the suspense of the moment. The PIA Radio Network, broadcasting the game, sent listeners back to the studio in Chicago late during the Pirates’ winning drive for . . . a trivia question and to thank listeners for their participation. Gee, guess we needed a break from the action.
GLAD THAT’S OVER
Florida State’s Casey Weldon is a one-time Heisman Trophy hopeful who hoped a victory in the Cotton Bowl would salvage something of a season gone wrong. Texas A&M;'s Bucky Richardson is a hard-nosed quarterback who envisions himself a tight end in the NFL. Weldon had a game that won’t make Heisman voters second-guess themselves; Richardson’s idea of switching positions is right on the mark. Weldon completed 14 of 32 passes for 92 yards with four interceptions, and Richardson completed six of 24 for 57 yards with two interceptions. The Aggies, with eight turnovers, were 10-2 losers. “I had a bad day,” Richardson said.
HERE’S TO THE BAND
Russell White, the Cal running back who became the first rusher in 38 games to gain more than 100 yards against Clemson, received one of the more unusual penalties during the Citrus Bowl.
After breaking off tackle for a 31-yard gain, he flipped the ball to the Cal band, bringing forth a 15-yard penalty. The drive then stalled, and Cal had to settle for a field goal.
So what was going through White’s mind? Was it a symbolic gesture to the fans of Cal.
“No, I was just stupid,” White said. “It was really stupid.”
In the era of responsible drinking, one has to wonder about the Citrus Bowl. After the third quarter, the public address system was turned over to a group called the Zonies, a club of 3,000 fans who buy end zone tickets. They deposited a beer keg on top of a pedestal at one of the goal lines and then proceeded to pay homage to it.
This was followed by their traditional chant:
Zonies don’t care who’s in the game
The teams on the field all look the same
Zonies don’t care who is here
As long as we have ice cold beer.
Yes, these were adults.
TO SERVE AND PROTECT
The Orlando Police Dept., which stood by as Georgia Tech fans tore down the goal posts last year and carried them down the street to a bar after the Yellow Jackets defeated Nebraska in the Citrus Bowl for a share of the national title, was ready this year. After Cal’s victory, they stationed nine police officers around each goal post. The goal posts remained intact.
ARE THERE RAIN CHECKS?
Torrential rains are nothing new to south Florida. But the cancellation of the Orange Bowl halftime show is.
For the first time in the 58-year history of the game, officials had to do away with the halftime spectacle, which, at times, has been more interesting than the game. Daylong rains soaked the field, creating a safety dilemma for those connected with the 30-minute laser and pyrotechnics show entitled “Back From the Future.”
Because the show’s electrical cables were under water, officials decided not to take any chances.
“Water and electricity don’t mix,” said Steve Hatchell, Orange Bowl executive director.
“The show at most would be 50% of what it would have been,’ he said.
Instead, the show was reduced to 20 minutes and fans had to settle for the Nebraska and Miami bands.
Independent teams won all seven bowl games they played in. But of those seven teams, four (Syracuse, Florida State, Penn State and Miami) are scheduled to join conferences within the next two seasons.
Conference records in this season’s bowl games:
Western Athletic: 1-1-1
Pacific 10: 3-1-0
Big Eight: 1-2-0
Big Ten: 1-3-1
Atlantic Coast: 1-3-0
Big West: 0-1-0
A MONEY PLAYER
Penn State linebacker Reggie Givens had two big turnovers in the 42-17 victory over Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl. His first, an interception, set up a touchdown. His second, when he recovered a fumble in the air after Tennessee quarterback Andy Kelly had been hit, he returned 23 yards for a touchdown.
Asked what it felt like when the ball popped out to him, Givens said: “It felt like a sackful of money in my hands.”
AND THE WINNER IS . . .
Although Florida State tailback Sean Jackson, who gained 119 yards in the Seminoles’ 10-2 Cotton Bowl victory over Texas A&M;, was chosen the game’s most valuable player, the balloting was not unanimous. One vote was cast for halftime performer Leonardo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
East Carolina offensive lineman Tom Scott, on quarterback Jeff Blake’s performance that gave the Pirates a 37-34 comeback victory over North Carolina State in the Peach Bowl: “Jeff was real calm out there . It was almost like he was God.”
California’s Brian Treggs, who returned a punt for a touchdown in a 37-13 victory over Clemson in the Citrus Bowl: “All year my teammates have been getting on me about not breaking one. . . . All I can remember is all the Clemson players falling down as I ran toward the end zone.”
Cal linebacker Mack Travis: “We had a lot to prove, and we needed to show that the game we played in November (a 38-21 loss to Stanford) was not the real Cal team. We needed to show that we weren’t some prissy team from the West Coast who was lucky to be playing a team from the East Coast. . . . I think we proved that.”
Florida State’s Bobby Bowden, after a 10-2 victory over Texas A&M; in the Cotton Bowl: “We really needed it. I would have hated to face the winter and the spring with a three-game losing streak. And I would have hated for these kids to face it, too. At least this stops the bleeding.”
Tennessee defensive tackle Shazzon Bradley, on Penn State’s 35 unanswered points in the second half during the Fiesta Bowl: “Anything can happen on any given day, just like David and Goliath when that one little stone just popped him.”
A BAD MIX
Michigan’s Desmond Howard (one catch against Washington in the Rose Bowl) wasn’t the first Heisman Trophy winner to flop in a bowl game. In the past decade, there haven’t been a lot of success stories for the winners of college football’s top award.
1990 winner: Ty Detmer, Brigham Young--Detmer had a terrible time in a 65-14 loss to Texas A&M; in the Holiday Bowl. He completed 11 of 23 passes for 114 yards and was knocked out with an injury.
1989: Andre Ware, Houston--No bowl game. Houston was on NCAA probation.
1988: Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State--One of the few recent standout performances. Sanders gained 222 yards and scored five touchdowns in a 62-14 Holiday Bowl victory over Wyoming.
1987: Tim Brown, Notre Dame--Brown caught six passes for 103 yards, but he got into a scuffle when a Texas A&M; player stole his towel, and the Irish were embarrassed, 35-10.
1986: Vinny Testaverde, Miami--In that season’s Game of the Century, Testaverde had five passes intercepted, including one on the Hurricanes’ final drive, as Penn State won the battle for No. 1 in the Fiesta Bowl, 14-10.
1985: Bo Jackson, Auburn--Bo rushed for 129 yards in 31 carries, but the Tigers fell to Texas A&M; in the Cotton Bowl, 36-16. (Note: If you are a Heisman winner, don’t play the Aggies in a bowl).
1984: Doug Flutie, Boston College--The opposite of Jackson, individual mediocrity (13 of 37 passes), but team success (a 45-28 victory over Houston in the Cotton Bowl).
1983: Mike Rozier, Nebraska--Rozier injured his ankle but gained 147 yards in the Cornhuskers’ 31-30 loss to Miami in the Orange Bowl, the game that signaled the rise to prominence of the Hurricanes.
1982: Herschel Walker, Georgia--He gained 103 yards in 28 carries in the Sugar Bowl, but the Bulldogs lost to Penn State, 27-23, as the Nittany Lions won the national championship.
NAMES AND NUMBERS
Miami’s 22-0 victory over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl was its fifth bowl victory in a row. . . . Nebraska has lost its last five bowl games. . . . Nebraska, No. 1 in the nation in rushing at 353 yards a game, had only eight yards rushing late in the third quarter.
Notre Dame’s 39-28 victory over Florida was the highest scoring game in Sugar Bowl history. Shane Matthews completed 28 of 58 passes for 370 yards, all records for the bowl game, and Florida’s Arden Czyzewski kicked a five field goals, also a record.
Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden tied UCLA’s Terry Donahue by winning bowl games in seven consecutive years with a 10-2 victory over Texas A&M; in the Cotton Bowl. . . . Florida State has won 10 consecutive bowl games. The Seminoles’ last loss was in the 1981 Orange Bowl, 18-17, to Oklahoma. . . . Texas A&M;'s defeat meant the Southwest Conference has lost seven of the last nine Cotton Bowl games. Guess what SWC team won the other two? Texas A&M.;
East Carolina, which beat North Carolina State, 37-34, in the Peach Bowl, completed its season with 11 victories in a row. Quarterback Jeff Blake set a Peach Bowl record with four touchdown passes.
Tennessee had won five consecutive bowl games before losing to Penn State, 42-17, in the Fiesta Bowl. . . . Penn State has played in five Fiesta Bowls and has won each time.