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2001 Season Review
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A CFF YEAR TO REMEMBER AND REFLECT
The year 2001 will always be marked by the tragic events of September 11. The loss of innocent American lives to the forces of evil have brought out the best in all of us. Let's commit as a nation to eliminate the threats to our way of life and pray for ultimate peace. Let's remember always the sacrifices others have made for us to live in the greatest country in the world. Without them, we could not enjoy the tremendous freedom and liberty we enjoy today.
College football cancelled its games on September 15 in respect for those whose lives were taken so suddenly and for those they left behind. When play resumed, schools honored our country in patriotic tributes at games throughout the land. Let us never forget how free we are and the sacrifices that have been made and are still being made today. We should never take what we have here for granted. Let us never forget September 11, 2001.
As for football, CollegeFootballFan.com will never forget what a great season it personally witnessed last year! CFF saw the eventual 1A National Champs, eight bowl teams, four 1AA playoff teams, six new 1A teams, the Outland, Maxwell and Payton Award Winners, a historical coaching record, the AP Coaches of the Year, the final game of a 300-win coaching career, a historic debut, closely contested games and some great individual efforts. We found some new watering holes and got together with some new friends and some good, old friends at various stadiums throughout the country, from Storrs to Statesboro to Pasadena. It was a memorable, fun season for CollegeFootballFan.com!
Georgia Tech defeated Syracuse 13-7 at the Meadowlands in our first game in the 19th Kick-off Classic. Tech WR Kelly Campbell wrangled MVP honors as he caught 10 passes for 193 yards including a 72 yard TD reception. The SU secondary gave him room to roam, but the Orange's DE Dwight Freeney sacked GT QB George Godsey twice and went on to capture post-season honors. Tech would not live up to pre-season hype and finished #24 with an 8-5 record including a 24-14 victory over Stanford in the inaugural Jeep Seattle Bowl. 'Cuse lost its first two games but finished at 10-3 ranked #14 with a 26-3 victory over Kansas State in the Insight.com Bowl. These were 2 of 3 winning bowl teams that CFF saw in 2001.
Optimistic Temple hosted Navy in a Thursday night game at Franklin Field where the story line was who didn't play. Star TU RB Tarnardo Sharps stayed on the bench with a groin injury and Navy's option QB Brian Madden's comeback was delayed because of conduct violations at USNA. FB Jason McKie and Soph RB Mackonnen Fenton aptly filled in for Sharps by running for 123 yards and 94 yards respectively in Temple's 45-26 victory. McKie raced 80 yards for a TD run early. The Owls finished a disappointing 4-7 on the season. Navy was less fortunate (read Navy-Rutgers game later). CFF enjoyed a visit to Dorney Park in Allentown, PA the next day.
Eventual National 1AA Champ Miami (F.) dominated Penn State in State College the following Saturday despite the emotional return of the Lions' Adam Taliaferro from last season's serious spinal injury when he walked on to the field prior to kick-off. Maxwell Trophy winner and co-Rose Bowl MVP Miami QB Ken Dorsey passed for 344 yards and 3 TDs and RB Clinton Portis rushed for 164 yard against the PSU Swiss cheese defense. Leading 30-0 at halftime, ABC Sports switched the nationally televised game to the Oregon-Wisconsin game, an option it wish it had also had at the half of the 'Canes 37-14 domination over Nebraska in the Rose Bowl for the BCS championship! First year HC Larry Coker shared Coach of the Year honors with Ralph Friedgen of Maryland. Before this game, our Guest Game Analyst, John Massimilla (PSU), predicted that a trip to Pasadena was most likely in store for the Hurricanes this year.
In Auburn, Alabama, the Tigers' RB Casinious Moore ran for 3 TDs to stave off CFF first-timer (#68) Mississippi's comeback attempt led by Soph QB Eli Manning in his SEC debut. A 27-0 Tiger lead wasn't safe as Manning passed for 265 yards and Mississippi threatened into the last minute of play as a roughing the kicker call sealed it for Auburn, 27-21. AU PK Damon Duval impressed all game booming kick-offs through the end zone. Both teams went on to unranked 7-4 seasons, but only Auburn would go on to a bowl where it lost to North Carolina in the Peach, 16-10. Along with Auburn grads Charlie and Linda Murren, CFF hit several good sports bars in Atlanta including the ESPNZone.
After cancellations of all NCAA games the weekend following September 11, CFF ventured to Newark, DE to see the Delaware Blue Hens race on to the field before its game against the Massachusetts Minutemen (3-8 in 2001) carrying American flags signifying a renewed spirit of patriotism in our country. The Hens, led by LB Dan Mulhern's 13 tackles, dominated UMass to win 35-7 in a game marked by inexperience at QB for both offenses. UD's fifth year SR QB Scott Postlethwait did connect for 2 TD passes despite his struggles. The Blue Hens won #297 for Head Coach Harold "Tubby" Raymond in his 36th year at Newark. Guest Game Analyst Gene Fagan (UVA), whom we met for the first time, reminisced about some of the same games he and CFF had attended in previous years. Gene made an in-depth study of CFF's History page!
"Success" was the word for CFF's only Ivy League game of the year between Princeton and Columbia on Youth Night. Princeton shut down Columbia RB threat Jonathan Reese and PU PK Taylor Northrop made 3 "successful" FGs on the night on his way to 3rd team 1AA All-America PK as the Tigers clawed the Lions, 44-11. RB Cameron Atkinson gained 116 yards, WR Chisom Opara had 3 catches for 126 yards including a 78 yard TD catch, and LB Chris Roser-Jones had 2 INTs including one for a TD as the host Tigers have continued to beat the Lions at home every year since 1945! The two feline teams ended up tied for fourth in the Ancient Eight at 3-4. (When a ball sails through the uprights at Princeton, it's not "good", it's "successful!" according to the PA announcer).
Michigan traveled to State College, PA the following weekend to meet Joe Paterno's first 0-3 team in Paterno's 36 year career and came up with two more firsts as a JoePa team in State College was shutout for the first time ever, 20-0, and a PSU team went 0-4 for the first time ever. Even with a chipmunk on the field, the Lions rushed for only 25 yards on 26 carries. Wolverine QB John Navarre threw for 246 yards and 2 TDs while RB B.J. Askew rushed for 122 yards and gained 56 through the air. DL Dan Rumishek sacked PSU QBs three times. New post-game traffic patterns due to the stadium expansion add to the frustrations of the PSU faithful. Michigan finished the season 8-4, losing its two last games to rival Ohio State 26-20, and to Tennessee 45-17 in the Citrus Bowl. It ranked #20 at the end of the season in an off year for the Big Ten.
CFF traveled to Pasadena, CA for its first ever all Pac Ten game between two CFF first-timers, UCLA (#69) and Washington (#70). Both teams were undefeated heading into this one, but the Huskies were at a disadvantage with starting QB Cody Pickett out with an injury. Despite fumbles, Bruin RB DeShaun Foster dominated the game running for 301 yards and 4 TDs in one of his last few games before being suspended for illegal gifts from an alumnus. One highlight was a 92 yard run where he stepped out at the Husky 1-yard line. Bruin MLB Robert Thomas impressed with some key hits on the defensive side of the ball as UCLA came away with a 35-13 victory. It was the beginning of the end for the Bruins though as they went from 5-0 in the top 5 to 7-4 to fall out of the rankings and not be invited to any bowl game. The Huskies finished 8-4 to rank #19. In its last two games, Miami clobbered them 65-7 and they fell to Texas in the Holiday Bowl, 47-43. In Burbank, CFF met with three displaced Easterners at Pinnochio's after the game; Chris Koreivo (Penn), Jim Lewis (Syracuse), and Jim Buckley ( NYC via Cal).
CFF returned East the next week to see two teams with one win between them. Navy visited Rutgers in New Brunswick, NJ, the Birthplace of College Football, where the host still has a lot of growing up to do despite its years of experience! The Scarlet Knights' frosh QB Ryan Cubit hooked up twice with SR WR Aaron Martin for long TD passes of 91 and 80 yards. TE L.J. Smith was moved to RB for a fruitful day of 9 carries for 71 yards. However, the Knights gave Guest Game analyst Eric Koreivo, age 6, a lesson in penalty signals as they racked up 18 to keep Navy in the game. Navy QB Brain Madden led his team to close the gap to three points with three minutes remaining. Though RU converted a FG later, the game was not in hand until Navy KR Tony Lane was halted on the kickoff at his own 31 with 1:01 to play. Navy HC Charlie Weatherbie was replaced by assistant Rick Lantz after the game and Navy finished 0-10 for the season including a loss to Army. CFF would return to RU for the season finale against another winless foe for the Knights.
The final trek to State College this season was one of trepidation. After seeing the PSU Lions lose two of their four losses to start the season, Paterno's boys had a bye week and came back to beat Northwestern to give Joe win #323 to tie Bama's Paul "Bear" Bryant in career wins. After seeing two feeble losses, CFF figured it was an opportunity to see another humbling loss to the improving Ohio State Buckeyes in their first year under Jim Tressel, or a historic moment to see JoePa surpass the Bear into coaching history. What looked like the former, as big plays put OSU in the lead 27-9 early in the third quarter, turned out to be the latter as Frosh QB Zack Mills made some big plays for the Nittanies included an exciting 69 yard TD run. Buckeye RB Jonathan Wells ran for 143 yards including a 72 yard TD run and All-America DB Mike Doss returned a deflected pass for a TD to build the lead. Mills made up for the deficit throwing 17 of 36 for 280 yards and rushing 15 times for 138 to lead the Lions to a 29-27 comeback. The PSU defense held out in the final minutes to seal the victory and the party was on in honor of Paterno. A water dousing, a video and the ugliest statue of Paterno one could ever imagine were presented in the glow of victory #324! It was an exciting game and the highlight of the PSU season. The Lions ended at 5-6 for their second losing season in the row. The Buckeyes went 7-4 for the season living up to Jim Tressel's vow to defeat archrival Michigan in the season finale. Their Outback Bowl effort came up short against South Carolina tying the score at 28-all before succumbing in the waning seconds to a FG after some questionable calls on behalf of the referees and the OSU coaching staff.
CFF returned to Maryland's Byrd Stadium for the first time in 22 years to see Coach Ralph Friedgen's surprising Terrapins taking on D1 newcomer Troy State, CFF # 71. Eventual BCS bowler Maryland toyed with Troy right from the start as it dominated by racking up 509 offensive yards in the first half to take a commanding 34-0 lead on its way to a 47-14 victory. Terp QB Shaun Hill threw for 228 yards and stalwart LB E.J. Henderson blocked a punt to turn things around quickly early in the game. Maryland lost in the Orange Bowl to Florida 56-23, but ended at 10-2, ranked 10th in the nation for quite an impressive one year turn around under "The Fridge". The Terps are the first team to win the ACC outright other than Florida State since the Seminoles joined the conference in 1992. Troy State finished its first D1 season at 7-4. Its biggest win came at Mississippi State, but it earned the distinction of being the only team to lose to the two teams in the 2002 BCS championship game, Miami (F) and Nebraska!
A cold day in Storrs, CT set the scene for a surprisingly, competitive game. The UConn Huskies played gracious hosts for most of the first three quarters against the visiting Utah State Aggies, team # 72 toward The Goal! USU QB Jose Fuentes tossed the pigskin for 234 yards and 3 TDs including one to Kevin Curtis, who led the nation in 2001 with 9.1 yards per reception. Single game yardage record holder Emmett White rushed for 117 yards and a TD to put the visitors up 38-10 with 6:06 remaining in Q3. Two things happened at this point. White was icing his leg on the bench, and the Aggie defense realized that they had garnered too large a lead! This wasn't the seesaw battle they were used to. Husky Frosh QB Dan Orlovsky woke up and ended the day with 245 yards passing, two TD passes and a TD run for a third score to close the gap to 38-31. UConn knocked on the door four consecutive times from the Aggie 12 yard line but to no avail. State did not seal its third victory of the season until DT Jorge Tapia picked off an Orlovsky pass with :17 remaining to cap an exciting finish to what originally looked like an intersectional blow-out! Both Independents went nowhere after the season. Utah State finished at 4-7 while UConn got blasted in its remaining games to complete a dismal 2-9 season. USU P Steve Mullins kept UConn deep with some great punting this day.
CFF and Delaware traveled to Villanova for what turned out to be the last game coached by the Blue Hens' legendary coach, Harold "Tubby" Raymond. To Delaware's disappointment, Raymond ended his 300-win career with a loss in this game and ended the season with only his third losing season (4-6) in 36 years at the helm for the Blue Hens! 'Nova PK Casey Hanon booted four FGs through the uprights including a key 42-yarder before halftime to key the 19-14 Wildcat victory. 'Nova's SR RB,Brian Westbrook, Walter Payton Award Winner as top 1AA Player of the year, added 190 total yards to his record-breaking career total. Villanova's defense thwarted a last gasp drive led by UD Frosh QB Mike O'Connor at midfield with 2:21 remaining to preserve the 19-14 victory. The Wildcats were knocked out of 1AA playoff contention the following Saturday when it lost to William & Mary in Virginia to cap its season at 8-3, ranked #19 in 1AA..
Team # 73, California Golden Bears, flew 3,000 mile east with their winless record (0-10) and lame duck HC, Tom Holmoe, to take on the typically, overconfident 2-8 Scarlet Knights of Rutgers. Only because Cal was convenient to see in New Brunswick did CFF venture to this skirmish. However, the weather was California-like on a November day in NJ, and the four Kids who attended with CFF enjoyed frozen lemonade and free admission on Youth Day. The 18,111 who showed up weren't disappointed as Rutgers continued to rack up the penalty yards, finishing with 802 for the year. This day, they gave up 105 to penalties on the day as its offense rushed for 47, a typical day on the Banks of the old Raritan! Cal jumped to a 14-0 lead by end of Q1. Its first TD was a 63 yard burst by RB Terrel Williams. The two teams toyed with each other the balance of the game, and the Bears went home on a positive note winning 20-10. Rutgers finished 2-9 not much better than the previous season with a different head coach. The local press clippings within weeks though provided positive impetus for next season! Yeah, right! Heard it all before! Go to 1AA where you belong, Scarlet Knights!
Speaking of 1AA football, CFF headed to Bethlehem, PA the following weekend for a first-round playoff game between Hofstra and Lehigh, a game with meaning! It didn't disappoint! Down 24-10, Lehigh brought in SR QB Luke Ciannello to replace an ineffective Brant Hall. On his first series late in Q3, Ciannello connected on a screen pass with wide-out Mike Sutton for an 86-yard TD. The two teams drove back and forth the remainder of the game until Ciannello led the Mountain Hawks 92 yards to score in the last :19 to knot the score at 24-24. TB Jermaine Pugh went in from the four. Lehigh intercepted Hofstra QB Rocky Butler in the end zone in the first overtime stanza. PK Brian Kelley kicked a FG from 27 to win in OT, 27-24, to make Lehigh 12-0, to start the celebation in Bethlehem and to advance to the next round against Furman. The Mountain Hawks' season would end there to the eventual National runner-up and finish in the 1AA poll at #5. Hofstra finished at 9-3 ranked #7. The 1AA Playoffs are great! If only 1A ...
CFF made it to the 2nd round of the playoffs where it checked into Statesboro, GA for the first time ever to see two 1AA Southern Conference stalwarts for the first time, Georgia Southern vs. Appalachian State. The ball handling wizardry of Eagle QB J.R. Revere was key to GSU's option-oriented attack. He threw 7 completions for 72 yards, ran for 84 and scored 2TDs. His mastery propelled RB Adrian Peterson to another 100+ yard game with 115. Spelled with a shoulder stinger, Peterson's replacement, Frosh RB Hakim Ford, adeptly took over for the TB position and provides the Eagles talent in the future. ASU hung in despite being down 24-3. The final result was a 38-24 win for the Eagles over the Mountaineers. Like Lehigh though, their season would end the following week versus conference rival Furman, the eventual runner-up in 1AA. Peterson's #3 hangs in retirement at Allen E. Paulson Stadium ( he was drafted by the Bears), HC Paul Johnson leaves with his 2 national championships to take the helm at floundering Navy, and GSU starts anew in 2002 under the guidance of former OL coach Mike Sewak, a coach who takes an active part in pre-game blocking drills with his charges as evidences by the bloody bridge of his nose seen at a post-game gathering at Archibald's in Statesboro. Coach Sewak will be around for the CFF opener in 2002 when the Eagles open in Newark, DE on 8/29 to play the Fighting Blue Hens of Delaware. It should be a great start to the 2002 season!