SI Vault
 
No. 1 vs. No. 2
Tim Layden
December 25, 1995
As 10 previous such matchups have shown, the only thing that's certain when the two top-ranked teams in the country play one another in a bowl is that the winner will emerge as the national champion
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
December 25, 1995

No. 1 Vs. No. 2

As 10 previous such matchups have shown, the only thing that's certain when the two top-ranked teams in the country play one another in a bowl is that the winner will emerge as the national champion

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4

The reasons for those subpar performances could be simple: In a game played by 18-to 22-year-olds on the largest stage they've ever been on, the honorific star is an accursed one. "Poor Charlie, he had two security guards assigned to him, and he couldn't go anywhere," says Rebol of Ward. "He was quiet, but it made him even quieter than usual."

The perks can he sensational.

When Ohio State's Kern arrived for the Rose Bowl, he and his teammates found vans awaiting them at the airport with Rose Bowl Princesses ready to escort them to their hotel. Kern was immediately attracted to one of the women, a Pasadena City College student named Nancy Henno, and yelled to a teammate, "Grab that one and get her in our car." Four years later Rex and Nancy were married, and now they live, with their two sons, John-Ryan and Michael, in Columbus, Ohio. Says Rex, "That trip worked out pretty well for me."

The winner and national champion....

In most years, members of the media gather in some hotel ballroom in various bowl cities on the morning after the major bowl games, to await the final poll results. The tally is customarily delivered on copies of dot-matrix wire-service printouts. Sometimes there is controversy, sometimes not. Always, it feels a little silly, as if the games were a prelude to a phone-in contest.

When No. 1 plays No. 2, no polls are needed. On the morning following Alabama's 1993 rout of Miami, Tide sophomore quarterback Jay Barker opened his hotel-room door to retrieve the complimentary newspaper left in the hallway. ALABAMA: NATIONAL CHAMPIONS screamed the headline. Barker looked to his left and to his right. "All the way down the hall, that's what you saw, newspapers that said, ALABAMA: NATIONAL CHAMPIONS," says Barker.

That is the sweetest thing of all. When No. 1 plays No. 2, there is only the game.

1 2 3 4