A Walk Through Alternate History: 2001

Alright, back to this series that I assume only I'm actually interested in...

1998
1999
2000

After winning the national title with Miami in 2000, Butch Davis hopped to the NFL, leaving the reins to offensive coordinator (and good Okie) Larry Coker.  The 2001 Hurricanes were every bit as dominant as the 2000 squad, and while in real life, 2001 was Miami's coming-out party after they had missed out on the title game in 2000, in alternate history 2001 was the victory lap.

2001 was also known as the second-straight year with title game controversy.  While Miami was clearly the #1 team, the #2 slot was left up for grabs after Nebraska got trounced in Boulder by Colorado.  The Buffs turned around and upset Texas in the Big 12 title game, and some "Colorado should be playing Miami" buzz kicked up quickly.  However, Colorado had two losses and really didn't deserve a shot.  Oregon's strength of schedule wasn't too hot, and Nebraska managed to slip into the title game despite public sentiment against them.

Once again, despite a clear #1 team, this would have been another great year for a tourney.

2001

Conference Champions: BYU, Illinois, Louisiana Tech, Louisville, Marshall, Maryland, Miami-FL, North Texas, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas

At-Large Bids: Colorado, Florida, Nebraska, Stanford, Washington State

Biggest Snubs: Oklahoma, Washington

Another reason this was a great year for a tourney: lots of 1-loss teams.  Illinois and Maryland both shot out of nowhere to win their conferences, and quite a few solid teams had emerged.  Meanwhile, two of 2000's semifinalists--OU and Washington--narrowly missed out on the tourney.

Also: due to 9/11 and the rescheduling of a lot of games, this tourney would have started on the second weekend in December.

Round 1

1 Miami-FL def. 16 North Texas in Coral Gables
8 Illinois def. 9 Stanford in Champaign
5 Oregon def. 12 BYU in Eugene
4 Colorado def. 13 Louisville in Boulder
6 Florida def. 11 Washington State in Gainesville
14 Marshall def. 3 Nebraska in Lincoln
7 Texas def. 10 Maryland in Austin
2 Tennessee def. 15 Louisiana Tech in Knoxville

Just like bad juujuu led #2 K-State to a loss against #15 Marshall in 1998, #3 Nebraska got struck down in 2001...once again by Marshall.  The Huskers lost their mojo in November, and the mojo that led Byron Leftwich and Marshall to this great win led them to victory in Lincoln.

Meanwhile, it's chalk for the rest of the first round.  Illinois fights into the semis with a tough win over a gritty Stanford team (remember when Ty Willingham was considered a good coach?), and Texas--finally not snubbed--advances to the quarters against Tennessee.

Quarterfinals

1 Miami-FL def. 8 Illinois in Coral Gables
5 Oregon def. 4 Colorado in Boulder
6 Florida def. 14 Marshall in Gainesville
2 Tennessee def. 7 Texas in Knoxville

This wasn't the Big 12's finest hour.  After NU was bounced by Marshall, neither CU or UT manages to make the semis.  Instead, we've got one matchup that a lot of people wanted to see for real (Miami-Oregon) and one rematch of a late-season classic (UT beat UF 34-32 on 12/1 that year).

Semifinals

1 Miami-FL def. 5 Oregon in Rose Bowl
6 Florida def. 2 Tennessee in Fiesta Bowl
7 Texas def. 8 Illinois in Orange Bowl
4 Colorado def. 14 Marshall in Sugar Bowl

Miami-Oregon in the Rose would have been outstanding, but I see it playing out a little like the 1995 Rose Bowl, where Oregon looked good and put up a fight, but Penn State was too strong.  Meanwhile, in Tempe, the Gators jump out early after a slow start in UF-UT I, and Casey Clausen isn't able to bring Tennessee back.  It's a Florida-Miami showdown, and we are assured of a fourth-straight Florida team winning the national title.

Finals

1 Miami-FL def. 6 Florida in Pasadena

I know I said this in the 2000 tourney too, but...yeah, Miami was just too good that year.  Clinton Portis, Frank Gore, Ken Dorsey, Andre Johnson, Jeremy Shockey, Ed Reed, Phil Buchanon, Vince Wilfork, Najeh Davenport, Jonathan Vilma, Sean Taylor (on 2nd string)...yeah.  Back-to-back titles for the 'Canes.

2001 BCS Tournament Champion: Miami-FL

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