Five contests -- since '98 -- that had the most impact
Posted: Wednesday May 17, 2006 10:33AM; Updated: Wednesday May 17, 2006 4:13PM
Michael Vick started the mobile-QB revolution with his Sugar Bowl wizardry.
Peter Read Miller/SI
In 2000, Damien Anderson and the Wildcats spurred a new wave of spread offenses after rolling up 654 yards in a win over Michigan.
The first Mailbag of the season elicited more than 600 e-mails, a staggeringly high number considering we're in the absolute dead of the offseason. As a result, I was able to fulfill my goal of conducting a little demographic research about you and your fellow readers.
Just as I feared, the Mailbag audience is more than 99 percent male. (Many thanks to the seven or so ladies who wrote in, none of whom, it should be noted, claimed to be goth chicks.) Not surprisingly, the most commonly listed professions were all very manly -- bankers, attorneys, mechanical engineers, military officers and the like. If there's an interior decorator in our midst, he or she has yet to come forward. And while the ages ranged from 17 to 65, the most prevalent were, like me, dudes in their 30s.
On the downside, there were so many good questions that there isn't possibly enough time for me to answer all of them. So if, like Adam in Washington D.C., you feel you came up with the Pulitzer Prize of questions, don't take it personally if it's not printed here. You'll have plenty more chances. Also, not too many people took me up on my offer of free non-football related counseling. Darn it ... beaten to the punch yet again by a photogenic Florida State undergrad.
The most disappointing development of all, however, is that in the course of 600 e-mails, you people were unable to come up with a suitable candidate for the next Mailbag celebrity crush. I suppose it's my fault for not listing the criteria, but as my longtime readers are well aware, the Mailbag tends to go for the more under-the-radar-type beauties (i.e. Rachel Bilson over Mischa Barton, Mandy Moore over Jessica Simpson). You guys are simply going to have to do better than the way-too-obvious Scarlett Johanssons and Natalie Portmans.
On with the football.
Just wondering what you consider, in retrospect, the most significant college football game of the past 15 or 20 years. I still can't stop thinking about Colorado's 62-36 rout of Nebraska in 2001, signaling the beginning of Nebraska's demise, the end of the Huskers' marriage to the option-oriented offense and a general erosion of fear when facing that team. -- Andrew Casper, Rome, Italy
I couldn't agree more about the significance of that game. I'll give you a list, but it only goes back to when I started covering the sport, in 1998:
1. Florida State 46, Virginia Tech 29, Sugar Bowl, Jan. 4, 2000: While the Seminoles won the game, Michael Vick's epic performance was the single biggest impetus to the influx of athletic-style quarterbacks we see today. It's not that there weren't "mobile" quarterbacks before Vick, but coaches rarely gave them the freedom to improvise. Vick helped convince any remaining cynics of just how big an impact such a player could have on a game if properly unleashed, a la Vince Young in this year's Rose Bowl.
2. Ohio State 31, Miami 24 (2 OT), Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 3, 2003: Besides being a classic game, it was the first time a Big Ten or Pac-10 team reached the BCS title game, a significant milestone considering it was these leagues' attachment to the Rose Bowl that had precluded a championship game for so long. More notably, the Buckeyes proved it possible to beat the 'Canes -- who had won 34 straight at the time -- simply by being the more physical team, something that hadn't happened to Miami in a long, long time.
3. Colorado 62, Nebraska 36, Nov. 23, 2001: For all the reasons mentioned above.
4. Louisville 26, Florida State 20, Sept. 26, 2002: It's amazing to me that more people don't remember this rainy, Thursday-night game as a defining moment. The 'Noles were less than two years removed from their streak of 14 straight top four rankings and three straight BCS title-game appearances. Louisville was then a member of Conference USA. The Cardinals won. If that doesn't say it all about the new era of parity in college football, I don't know what does.
5. Northwestern 54, Michigan 51, Nov. 4, 2000: In talking to coaches over the last several years, I've learned that this game is viewed as something of a landmark moment in the current craze of spread offenses. When people saw Northwestern, which had had one of the worst offenses in the country only a year earlier, use the spread to put up 654 yards on the Wolverines, it spawned a whole lot of copycats, most notably Urban Meyer when he took over at Bowling Green the following season.
It's too early to say at this point, but if Notre Dame does indeed "return to glory" under Charlie Weis, I'm sure last year's USC game will be viewed in much the same light as these.