It's time to decide a champion in the first Musings College Football Playoff. In case you don't remember, Ohio State and USC made it to the finals after thrilling wins over Georgia and Virginia Tech, respectively. Here is a recap of the quarterfinals.
The Orange Bowl at Dolphin Stadium in Miami will host the first National Championship game, which is scheduled for 8 p.m. on New Year's Day. It is a blockbuster match-up, a game many pundits expected at the beginning of the year. Ohio State, which ended the season number 1 in the BCS standings, faces USC. The Trojans at one point were No. 1, but succumbed to injuries and lost two games. They ended the year No. 7 in the BCS. It was enough to get into the dance, but it meant a tough road, a road game in the quarters and then a rough game with No. 3 Virginia Tech.
This game may be as good as it looks on paper. The USC offense is VERY potent, but so is the Ohio State defense. And the Buckeyes have the running game to keep Trojans QB John David Booty off the field. USC averages 31.3 points per game, while Ohio State gives up just 10.7 per game.
Ohio State rushes for an average of 201 yards per game and passes for about the same amount. USC, on the other hand, passes for 244 yards per game and rushes for 185 per game. That means USC will get a heavy dose of Chris Wells, which should keep the game close.
USC is going to score points, however, it's just hard to say how many. Some argue USC is a lot better than its record, while Ohio State is a lot worse than its record. USC wins this game, but it's close. Final score is Trojans 28, Buckeyes 21. It is only an upset on paper.
Note: The National Championship draws television numbers that rival the Super Bowl and the semi-finals draw much better numbers than the Rose, Sugar and Fiesta bowls will today.
All is right with the world. Happy New Year everyone.
I'm not satisfied with just getting to a bowl game. Frankly, I was disgusted with IU's play in the first half. While the offense played better in the second half against a Cowboys team that was losing interest, there really wasn't much to take away from it.
The Hoosiers continue to have the same problem: if the defense could at least keep the score under control, there is a chance to win. That didn't happen tonight, and IU lost.
I would even argue, the Hoosiers should be somewhat embarrassed. The Cowboys flat-out torched IU in the first half. All the drives were long and took almost no time. OK St.'s first four touchdown drives each took less than 3 minutes. The IU defense was never dominating, but at least make the other team work for it. They gave up yards in bunches and could never figure out how to stop the OK St. option attack.
This is a downer after the big win against Purdue, but it could indicate better things to come next year. Hopefully that will include some improved defense.
But IU doesn't get it. First down Cowboys. The hand-off gains five. Second down hand-off gains a few more. Third down and IU calls timeout with 2:10 to go.
Auburn scores a touchdown in third quarter to take a 10-7 lead on Clemson.
The third down pass is caught at the 3. It's almost intercepted. The QB fumbles trying to score, but the Cowboys recover. Second and goal. Another hand-off, but no gain. IU calls timeout. The radio guys are happy IU outscored OK St. 17-7 in the second half, but that means nothing to me. Most of the points came when OK St. was in a prevent and trying to run the clock out.
Third and goal. The option play goes for a gain of only three to the 1. Fourth and goal and IU calls its last timeout. Finally the hand-off and the TD. That wasn't really necessary, but IU was using timeouts so I suppose OK St. had to do it. The Cowboys still had the starters in, and they were throwing the ball on the last drive up 15 with less than 2 minutes left.
The extra point is good. OK St. leads 49-27.
IU takes the kick-off to the 47. 41 seconds left. Lewis throws to Means over the middle for an nine-yard gain. Lewis throws to Hardy, who runs for a first down to the 30. 12 seconds left. Lewis throws to Bailey, who catches it for a TOUCHDOWN!! IU goes for a two point conversion and it's no good. OK St. leads 49-33. 1 second left.
Was that really necessary? IU still has to kick off. It's fielded and that's it. Final score: OK St. wins 49-33.
Lewis throws to Means for five yards. James Bailey makes a catch on second down for another five yards to get the first down. Lewis gives to Thigpen who runs all the way to the 25. Lewis gives to Payton, who is dropped for no gain. Second and 10. Lewis throws incomplete. Third and 10. Lewis runs it to the 14 for a first down. IU is called for illegal procedure. A five-yard penalty. 3:31 to go. First and 15 at the 19. Lewis throws for Hardy and its incomplete. Second and 15. Lewis throws incomplete again. Third and 15. Lewis throws incomplete. Fourth and 15. Field goal attempt coming. Kick is good. It's 42-27 Cowboys.
OK St. runs the kick to the 32 after the return man falls. The Cowboys are flagged for blocking in the back, taking the ball back to the 21. First down is a run for a half-yard loss. Second and 11, but the clock is running. Another run for a gain of four. Third and seven. Another run for a gain of six. Fourth down and another punt. 5:11 to go.
IU gets the punt at the IU 34. The snap was high and the punter was bumped, but no call.
A score would be nice, but IU likely doesn't have enough time to tie the game. At least try to make it close...
First and 10 from the 20. Thigpen runs for a three-yard loss. Second and 13. Are they running the clock out? Lewis throws incomplete. Third and 13. Lewis runs up the sideline for the first down and goes out of bounds at the 38. I actually saw a highlight of the game on ESPN. The 15 seconds are all OK St.
Payton runs for seven yards on first down. Payton runs for a first down near the OK St. 40. It's a gain of 14. Means throws to Lewis after a reverse and it's a gain of 16. Another first down. Lewis runs to the 20 for a gain of five. 7:45 to go. Second down. Lewis tries to hit Hardy, but he can't catch it. Radio guys say the defenders have hands all over him, but the officials won't call it. Third down. Lewis throws to Means, who can't catch it, but a flag comes out. Pass interference on OK St. First and goal at the Cowboy 5. Lewis gives to Josiah Sears who runs for the TOUCHDOWN!! Extra point is good. OK St. leads 42-24. IU is flagged for celebration in the endzone and must kick from the 15 yard line.
I think IU just doesn't have it today. Not only are they overmatched, but they aren't playing very well either. There has been nothing consistent about either the offense or the defense.
First and 10 OK St. at their 43 yard line. First down is a run for a gain of one. Second and nine. The pass is incomplete. Third and nine. The pass is complete for a gain of 10. Wouldn't the corners want to get a little aggressive here since they are so far behind?
On first down, another completion, but OK St. is flagged for delay of game for throwing the ball after the catch. Second and 18. The hand-off goes for a gain of four. Third and 15. The pass is a screen, but IU reads it perfectly. It's fourth and 15 and the Cowboys punt. It goes into the endzone. 10:31 to go.
Teams have scored four times in one quarter before. Can IU stage a miracle comeback?
It's third and nine. The pass is complete, but he fumbles. IU recovers. First down Hoosiers. Lewis is sacked before he can throw. Second and 20. Payton runs for a gain of 10. Third and 10 at the IU 27. Lewis rolls left and throws incomplete. IU punts. It goes out of bounds near the 41.
First and 10 OK St. at the 29. A run ends with a fumble, but the Cowboys recover. It went forward and now it's second and three. Another bad break. The pitch on second down gets the first down. IU can't defend the option at all.
First down and the hand-off gains three to the 47. Second and seven. Hand-off for a gain of five. Third and two. It's a pass that's incomplete. Fourth down and OK St. punts. Flag down as the punt is fair caught at the 15. IU is offsides. First down OK St. Radio guys get it right ... inexcusable. If the Cowboys score here, the game may be over.
First and 10. The pass is incomplete. Second and 10. Hand-off goes for 10 yards and a first down at the IU 33. The next QB run is a gain of three even though IU is close to a sack. Second and seven. Hand-off again goes to the 4. Flag is down ... holding on the Cowboys. Second and eight now. Another run, but IU stops them for a loss. Third and nine. The third quarter ends. OK St. 42-IU 17.
The IU offense gets the ball back after the Cowboys score in just over 4:13. That was their longest drive of the game in terms of time. So much for forcing a three-and-out.
They squib kick and IU returns it to the 32. First and 10. Lewis throws to Fisher on the sideline for a gain of two. Second and eight. Thigpen runs for six to the 40. Third and two. Lewis throws incomplete from the shotgun. That sounds like what happened in the first half. The punt goes to the OK St. 28 yard line, 4:38 to go in the third quarter.
Did I speak too soon again? If the IU defense can get a quick three and out and score again, we'll have a game again.
Kick-off goes to the 20. OK St.'s offense is back on the field. First down is a run up the middle for two yards. Second and eight. It's a throw to the sidelines for a first down at the 32. Another pass is caught at the IU 28. It was a great catch for a 39-yard gain. Another throw to the sideline and it's almost picked off again. Second and 10. A run for another six yards. Third and four. QB run is for two, bringing up fourth down. No field goal attempt here. Fourth and two. A throw to the tight end for a first down at the 14. A hand-off goes to the 9. Second and five. Another inside hand-off, but this time it's a two-yard loss. Third and seven. A throw to the endzone for a touchdown. More bad coverage combined with a perfect throw.
Extra point is good. OK St. leads 42-17. There goes the momentum.
A really short field for the Hoosier offense this time. That was the first Cowboy punt.
First and 10. Lewis gives to Thigpen who runs left on a sweep to the 12, a gain of 13. First down. Lewis gives to Thigpen again, who gets another three yards to the 9. Second and seven. Lewis throws to Payton, but it's incomplete. Third and seven. IU needs a touchdown.
Lewis throws to Hardy on a sideline pass. He loses a yard. Field goal attempt ... It's a fake! Lewis takes the snap and throws to the kicker, Austin Starr, who runs to the 1 yard line. He made two great moves to get the first down. First and goal. Lewis gives to Payton who gets to the one-foot line. Second down and inches. Lewis scores on the QB sneak. TOUCHDOWN!! OK St. was offsides, but that doesn't matter. Extra point is good. OK St. leads 35-17.
OK St. gets a good return, but is called for an illegal block in the back and must start at the 16 yard line. First down is a run for about three yards. Second down is a pitch for a big gain, but another penalty for a block in the back against OK St. That makes it second and 14 from the 12. Inside hand-off goes for a gain of one. Third and 13. Signs of life maybe?
The third down pass is almost intercepted. It's incomplete and OK St. must punt from the endzone. Another flag for an OK St. false start. The ball is on the 7. The punt is shanked and goes out of bounds at the OK St. 26. Awesome field position!
It's really hard to say the IU defense was tired going into the locker room, because they weren't on the field very long. OK St.'s scoring drives lasted 2:16, 2:33, 2:05, 2:54, and 3:07. The Cowboys gained yards in huge chucks the entire half. There was nothing really to speak of for the Hoosier defense except the interception at the end of the half.
It was downright ugly. I'm trying to remain upbeat.
The Cowboys look a lot better than their 6-6 record. Or IU looks a lot worse than its 7-5 record. OK St. scored TDs on each of their possessions in the first half.
Lewis throws to Hardy for about six yards on first down. It goes to the 26 yard line. Lewis hits Means for seven more and a first down. Under 2 minutes to go. Lewis throws incomplete and for a bonus, IU gets called for holding. First and 20. Lewis throws deep to James Bailey but its incomplete after a big hit. Second and 20, 1:31 to go. Lewis throws incomplete looking for Hardy. Third down and 20. Lewis hits Means for 10. But it's still fourth and 10 with 1:03 to go. OK St. calls timeout to stop the clock.
The punt goes to the OK St. 26. First down is a run for nine yards. Second down is a QB option run for the first down. First down again and its a throw to the IU 41. Another first down with 21 seconds left. The next throw is intercepted!! The defense hasn't quit yet.
IU takes a knee with 10 seconds to go. Halftime -- Oklahoma State 25, Indiana 10.
OK St. starts at the 36 yard line. On first down, the Cowboys throw a pass to the IU 40. The next play is a seven-yard run. Quick snap again and they run for a first down to the 25 yard line. Another QB run to the 20. The defense can't maintain the momentum. It seems I'm typing the same thing every time the Cowboys get the ball.
Another few plays and an IU penalty gets the ball to the IU 2 for first and goal. A QB sneak goes to the 1. First half is almost over. QB sneak again for the TD. The officials review the play and it's upheld. Extra point is good. Cowboys lead 35-10.
This one may be out of reach. You can't make any adjustments for what OK St. is doing.
Right now they're getting dominated in all phases of the game. It could be over by halftime unless the Hoosiers start to score.
Kick off is run to the 20. 10:07 to go in the first half. First and 10 and Lewis throws incomplete. Second down and IU is called for delay of game. Second and 15. Lewis runs up field to about the 21. A gain of six brings third and nine. Lewis throws to James Bailey, who runs passed mid-field. First and 10 at the OK St. 48. A hand-off to Thigpen for three yards on first down. Second and seven. Lewis run to the 41, but a flag is down. It's holding against IU. Second and 17 from the IU 45. Lewis throws to Fisher who gets to the OK St. 43. Another flag is down...personal foul against the Cowboys. The 15-yard penalty takes the ball inside the OK St. 30.
First down from the 27. Lewis drops the ball, picks it up, throws complete to Payton, who loses three yards. Second and 13. Lewis rolls left and throws incomplete. Third and 13. What happened to James Hardy? Only one catch for 14 yards. It came on the first drive.
Third and long. IU calls timeout. They're in field goal range, but the Hoosiers need touchdowns. Lewis is leading the team in two major offensive categories: 91 yards passing, 59 yards rushing.
Lewis throws to Hardy who gets the first down inside the 15. Finally, the big guy gets a pass.
First and 10 at the 13. Hand-off to Payton goes to the 2 yard line. First and goal. Lewis gives to Payton who goes nowhere. Second and goal from the 4. Lewis in the shotgun. He throws incomplete, looking for Hardy. Third and goal. Lewis throws to Thigpen in the flat who gets in...TOUCHDOWN!!! Extra point is good. OK St. leads 28-10, 5:35 to go in the half.
Why didn't Lewis or another back run on fourth down? A pass seems unnecesary when you need less than a yard. It's another bad break.
First down at their 43 yard line. A pitch to the outside is a gain of two. Second and eight. IU intercepts the pass, but they're offside, so it doesn't count. Second and three. Good news, Tracy Porter is back in the game.
The second and three pass is incomplete. IU got some pressure on the OK St. QB. Third and three. They need a stop here...
It's an option run by the QB for a first down to the IU 36. Still no defense...
On first and 10, OK St. its a pass to the sideline for a good gain. But a flag is down. OK St. is called for holding. First and 14 from the 40. A throw for a first down on a gain of 15. First down at the 25. A run goes for a loss of six after the running back tries to cut back. But another flag. It was picked up. Second and 16. Sideline pass for 11 to the 20. These are all short passes that are going for long runs. Third down. Another throw to the sideline for a first down to the IU 14.
First down and nearing another TD. They throw into the endzone, but the receiver is out of bounds. Second and 10. Another throw into the endzone and its incomplete. Third and 10. Throw into the endzone for a TD. The receiver wasn't covered. Now its 28-3 after the extra point.
Time to start over. OK St. started strong, but the Hoosiers can make up for it. A good drive here is needed. And I though the Cowboy defense was lousy...
Second and 10. Lewis runs up the sideline to the IU 48. Nice play there after the pressure was on again. First down. Ray Lewis runs and loses a ton to the 40. Second and 18. Lewis rolls right, avoid a couple tackles and goes down for maybe a gain of one. Third and a mile. Lewis throws to Andrew Means, who dives for the first down. A gain of 17 on the pass into the flat.
After a timeout, a first down play. But OK St. is challenging the spot. They don't think it's a first down. The officials' review takes a while, and the call is reversed. It's fourth and less than one at the 43. IU goes for it. Lewis from the shotgun throws incomplete. Turnover.
The radio guys have said the 40-some day layoff is to blame for some of the defensive mistakes. I don't believe that. The Hoosiers had trouble defending the option against Illinois and pretty much defending anything all year. Today, they're being exposed again. Are the nerves getting to them?
The last OK St. drive lasted less than 2 minutes.
Kick off is taken from the endzone to the 16. First down is a run by Thigpen for a loss of about a half yard. Second and 10. Lewis throws incomplete on a sideline pass for Thigpen. Third and 10. Lewis from the shotgun runs for the first down to the 29 yard line. A gain of 14.
On first down, Thigpen runs for no gain again. End of the first quarter.
First down and the Cowboys get four yards on a running play. IU is called for offsides and now it's first and five from the IU 49. A run to the left goes for six yards and a first down. Shotgun. A screen pass goes all the way to the IU 19. Radio guys say there were two or three missed tackles.
First down. Cowboys get seven yards on a short pass. Second and three is a run for about two, just short of the first down. Third down is a QB sneak for a first down. First down is another QB run for a touchdown. Now its 21-3 Cowboys after the extra point.
Even when the Hoosiers get a break, it goes against them. OK St. saw something on film that shows IU is vulnerable to the pass. All the previews said the Cowboys ran the ball better than most. So far today, they are throwing the ball all over the lot. And both drives have been quick -- each have been about 2 minutes.
4:38 to go in the first quarter.
Kick off is taken in the endzone. IU starts from the 20. First down and Payton runs it to the 23. Second and seven. Porter has a head injury and is questionable. Lewis throws long to James Hardy, who can't catch it. Third and seven. The crowd groaned like there was interference, but the radio guys don't think so. Lewis throws incomplete again. Another punt.
The IU defense has to step up here. The last thing we need is to get behind early.
First down and OK St. throws incomplete down field. Second and 10. Quick throw to the sideline for a first down at the IU 43. Good play by the IU defense on first down. They stop the QB run for a loss of two. Second and 12. Throw for another first down to the tight end. It's a gain of 19. First down. Option run for a gain to the IU 20. Corner Tracy Porter is down and that's bad. He took a shot to the head from another IU defender, according to the radio guys.
So far the Cowboys have done pretty much whatever they have wanted. The IU defense has offered little resistance. OK St. has more yards passing than rushing 52-37. Porter walked off the field with an arm around one of the coaches.
Second and three at the 20. A run outside to the IU 10. First down. A run inside to the nine yard line. Flag is down...personal foul for a late hit against OK St. Finally, a break. Second down and goal from the 25. Pass into the endzone for a TD. Extra point is good. 14-3.
This could turn into an Arena Football game really quick. IU's defense stayed on the sideline for most of that drive. Even the one good play was marred by a penalty. The offense has to keep putting points on the board.
The shortest play on that drive was a gain of three yards. UGH!!
The kick-off is a touchback. IU will start at the 20. On first down, Lewis throws it away. On second down, Lewis throws it to Thigpen out of the backfield for no gain. Third and 10. Pass is incomplete. IU will punt. OK St. takes the punt to the 47 yard line.
The IU offense has to do something about the pressure. OK St. put some heat on Kellen Lewis on a couple occasions. For the most part they looked good. I would like to see some more of the running game, too.
Kick-off is taken to the OK St. 33 yard line. First down is an option play for a gain of seven. There's a surprise, all the Cowboys do is run the ball. Second down is the option again to IU 48 for a first down. The next play is a pass for a gain of three. Second and seven. A run for a loss, but IU is flagged for a face mask. Its the 15-yard variety and takes the ball to the IU . On first down, a pass to the tight-end gets a first down inside the 30. Another run and this time, the Cowboys get to the IU 3 for a gain of 14.
First and goal on the quick snap and its a touchdown. The extra point is good. 7-3 OK St.
Oregon has hung more than half a hundred on South Florida. Oh, how the once mighty have fallen.
OK St. is the home team, wearing the orange jerseys. IU is wearing the road whites with red pants. The Cowboys won the toss and deferred.
IU takes the opening kick. IU loses three yards on the first play, a hand-off to Marcus Thigpen. James Hardy gets a first down near the 35 on a second and long pass from Kellen Lewis. Lewis hits Nick Sexton near the 41 for a gain of about seven on first down. On second down, Lewis is flushed out of the pocket, but runs for 14 yards. It's first down again, and Thigpen takes the hand-off for three yards. On second and seven, Lewis throws it to Ray Fisher for a gain of five to the OK St. 37 yard line. Third and two. Bryan Payton makes the catch at the 31 to get the first down.
First down. Fisher gets it on an end-around for a gain of three. The defense contained well on that play. Second and seven. Lewis hands to Thigpen, who gets another three or so. It's third and four at the OK St. 25. Lewis throws incomplete with the pressure coming.
Field goal attempt coming...its GOOD!! IU leads 3-0 with 10:41 to go in the first quarter.