So we enter 2005 with the team preventing a Miami three-peat going for a four-peat of their own. USC had already established themselves as a dynasty, but now they got their first severe challenge in the form of an "It's all clicked in the junior year" Vince Young and Texas.
Conference Champions: Arkansas State, Boise State, Central Florida, LSU, Northern Illinois, Penn State, Texas, TCU, USC, Virginia Tech, West Virginia
At-Large Bids: Auburn, Miami-FL, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon
Biggest snubs: UCLA, Georgia
Penn State wasted its best year in a long time this year, as everybody was a step behind USC and Texas. That said, the biggest challengers outside of LA and Austin are PSU, LSU, and a damn solid Virginia Tech team.
1 USC murders 16 Arkansas State in LA
8 Notre Dame def. 9 Miami-FL in South Bend
5 Virginia Tech def. 12 TCU in Blacksburg
4 LSU def. 13 Central Florida in Baton Rouge
11 West Virginia def. 6 Oregon in Eugene
3 Penn State def. 14 Boise State in State College
7 Ohio State def. 10 Auburn in Columbus
2 Texas murders 15 Northern Illinois in Austin
In a year with a clearly-defined top tier of teams (and really, a clearly-defined second tier as well), it's not surprising that we've got only one Round 1 upset--that being freshmen Pat White and Steve Slaton blitzing Oregon in Eugene. They looked fantastic that year in the Sugar Bowl against Georgia, and they'd have done the same to the Ducks. We've got highly entertaining games in Columbus, South Bend, and Blacksburg as well, but that's the only upset. Meanwhile, LSU doesn't look great in against UCF, but they move on.
1 USC def. 8 Notre Dame in LA
4 LSU def. 5 Virginia Tech in Baton Rouge
11 West Virginia def. 3 Penn State in State College
2 Texas def. 7 Ohio State in Austin
Two rematches don't really live up to the hype--USC humbles Notre Dame in the "Bush Push" rematch (the only game they played all regular season that was decided by single digits), and Texas holds off Ohio State pretty easily in their own backyard. The other two games, however, are fantastic. An angry LSU team jumps ahead early but holds on against Beamer's Hokies, and in an awesome, old-school matchup, the Mountaineers head up to Happy Valley and upset the Nittany Lions. Four big-time matchups in the quarters produce four big-time BCS bowls.
1 USC def. 4 LSU in the Rose Bowl
2 Texas def. 11 West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl
3 Penn State def. 8 Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl
7 Ohio State def. 5 Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl
PSU must feel like this is the 1980s all over again. First, they play West Virginia, then Notre Dame. Anyway, in the semis...Texas gives up quite a few yards and points to the boys from Morgantown, but by the third quarter this one's comfortable for them. They move on with a 17-point(ish) win. Meanwhile, two of the most athletic teams in the country face off in the Rose Bowl, and in the end it comes down to playmaking ability. The only team in the country who could beat USC is Texas...
2 Texas def. 1 USC in Pasadena
...and in the greatest tourney final of BCS Championship Tournament era, Texas does just that.