A Walk Through Alternate History: 2002

1998 (National Champion: Florida)
1999 (Florida State)
2000 (Miami-FL)
2001 (Miami-FL)

After titles in 2000 and 2001, the question becomes...can Miami-FL three-peat?  We know that in real-life, Ohio State upset the 'Canes in the Fiesta Bowl, but...would the Buckeyes be around to do the same in a 16-team tourney?  And...will a team from outside of Florida ever win another national championship?

2002

Conference Champions: Boise State, Cincinnati, Colorado, Colorado State, Florida State, Georgia, Marshall, Miami-FL, North Texas, Ohio State, Washington State

At-Large Bids: Iowa, Kansas State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, USC

Biggest Snubs: Texas, Michigan

Can you see the developing storyline here?  In the five years the BCS National Tournament has "existed," Texas has been the highest-ranked snub three times.  What kind of outcry do you think that would cause??

Round 1

1 Miami-FL def. 16 Cincinnati in Coral Gables
8 Kansas State def. 9 Notre Dame in Manhattan
5 Iowa def. 12 Boise State in Iowa City
4 USC def. 13 Colorado State in LA
6 Washington State def. 11 Colorado in Pullman
3 Georgia def. 14 Marshall in Athens
7 Oklahoma def. 10 Florida State in Norman
2 Ohio State def. 15 North Texas in Columbus

Total chalk in Round 1.  KSU/ND would have been an interesting game, as would have Wazzu/Colorado, but I went with the home team both times there.  Other than that, it was pretty clear that the top teams in the country this year were the tops by a large margin.  Miami, Ohio State, Georgia, USC, Iowa, and maybe to a lesser extent Oklahoma, were clearly the top tier, and they all win easily.

(And seriously...how much fun would it be watching OU and FSU playing in Norman in early December??)

Quarterfinals

1 Miami-FL def. 8 Kansas State in Coral Gables
4 USC def. 5 Iowa in LA
3 Georgia def. 6 Washington State in Athens
2 Ohio State def. 7 Oklahoma in Columbus

Iowa was good, but they got stomped by USC in the Orange Bowl that year.  Needless to say, they'd have likely done the same in USC's backyard.  Meanwhile, tOSU/OU would have been a helluva game, but again I go home team there.  That, and as uninspiring as this tOSU team looked at times, they really, really knew how to win games.  It's a good skill to have, no?

Semifinals

4 USC def. 1 Miami-FL in Sugar Bowl
2 Ohio State def. 3 Georgia in Fiesta Bowl
5 Iowa def. 8 Washington State in Rose Bowl
7 Oklahoma def. 8 Kansas State in Orange Bowl

Two epic freaking matchups in the semis here.  After early-season losses to K-State and Wazzu, Carson Palmer and USC were completely rolling by the end of the season.  After slipping by Cal on 10/12, the Trojans weren't seriously challenged again--not by 7-6 Oregon (44-33), not by 8-6 Arizona State (34-13), not by 8-5 UCLA (52-21), really not by 10-3 Notre Dame (44-13), and not by 11-2 Iowa (38-17).  I think USC was the only team other than Ohio State who could have taken out the mighty 'Canes, and I think they do so in New Orleans.  Think about the "We're baaaaack" message that would have sent.

Meanwhile, gritty Ohio State takes out gritty Georgia in a gritty, gritty game.

And in the consolation BCS bowls, the Rose Bowl still gets its Big Ten/Pac 10 matchup...even though it means conference mates OU and KSU meeting in the Orange Bowl.  Then again, OU and NU met in the Orange Bowl in 1979, so it's not completely out of the ordinary...

Finals

4 USC def. 2 Ohio State in Tempe

I feel strange picking this one, as all Ohio State did in '02 was win every game, but...Carson Palmer, Mike Williams, Keary Colbert, Sultan McCullough, Justin Fargas, Troy Polamalu, Shaun Cody...that's not quite the murderer's row of the '01 Hurricanes, but it's good enough.  USC's back.

2002 BCS National Champion: USC

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