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BCS as a Playoff: It’s Texas against USC again in 2005

Nick Bromberg
Dr. Saturday

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Welcome to Dr. Saturday's BCS as the College Football Playoff feature. This week we'll go through each of the 16 years of the BCS and hypothesize if the national championship would have changed hands under the new College Football Playoff.

Since we don't have the benefit of a selection committee, we're taking the top four teams from the BCS standings entering bowl season. Does the Big Ten get into the title game in 2005?

No. 1 USC (12-1)

Coach: Pete Carroll

Notable players: QB Matt Leinart, RB Reggie Bush, RB Lendale White, WR Dwayne Jarrett, WR Steve Smith, DL Sedrick Ellis, LB Clay Matthews, LB Rey Maualuga DB Darnell Bing

USC's season: Much like December of 2004, this season officially didn't happen according to the NCAA. But it did in our minds. As the Trojans went undefeated on the way to the Rose Bowl, the closest game was the Bush Push against Notre Dame. In USC's 34-31 win, Bush helped Leinart into the end zone on a quarterback sneak with three seconds left to win the game. Both Bush and White ran for over 1,000 yards and Smith was 43 yards from joining Jarrett in the 1,000 yards receiving club.

No. 2 Texas (13-0)

Coach: Mack Brown

Notable players: QB Vince Young, RB Jamaal Charles, WR Billy Pittman, DL Brian Orakpo, DL Brian Robison, DB Marcus Griffin

Texas's season: The road to the national title officially began in Columbus, Ohio. On Sept. 10, the Longhorns traveled to Ohio State and beat the Buckeyes 25-22. That was the biggest scare on the way to the Rose Bowl as Texas won every Big 12 game by 11 points or more. Young threw for 3,036 yards and ran for 1,050 while accounting for 36 total touchdowns.

No. 3 Penn State (12-1)

Coach: Joe Paterno

Notable players: QB Michael Robinson, RB Tony Hunt, WR Deon Butler, DL Tamba Hali, LB Paul Posluzny, LB Dan Connor

Penn State's season: As part of the sanctions imposed on Paterno and Penn State because of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal, these wins have been officially vacated. But, again, we're still counting them. The lone loss for the Nittany Lions came at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 15 when Chad Henne found Mario Manningham for a touchdown with no time left. Michigan won 27-25. Robinson threw for 2.350 yards and ran for 806 while Hunt had 1,047 yards rushing.

No. 4 Ohio State (10-2)

Coach: Jim Tressel

Notable players: QB Troy Smith, RB Antonio Pittman, WR Santonio Holmes, WR Ted Ginn Jr., LB James Laurinaitis, LB Bobby Carpenter, LB A.J. Hawk, DB Donte Whitner

Ohio State's season: Had Ohio State beaten Texas in the second game of the season, it's feasible to wonder if the Buckeyes would be in the Rose Bowl despite losing to Penn State on Oct. 8. Ohio State played seven ranked teams, including against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. You may remember that as the game where Laura Hawk wore a split jersey of her brother Brady Quinn and her now-husband Hawk. Throughout 2005, Smith threw for 2,282 yards and Pittman ran for 1.331.

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The 2006 Rose Bowl: It's one of the most memorable endings in BCS history. Leinart threw a 22-yard touchdown to Dwayne Jarrett with 6:42 left in the fourth quarter to give USC a 38-26 lead. Then Young took over. He ran for a 17-yard score with 4:03 left to pull Texas within five. USC got inside Texas territory on its next possession, but White was stopped on a fourth-and-2 play at the Texas 44 with just over 2 minutes remaining. A conversion would have sealed the game.

On the tenth play after Texas got the ball back, Young scrambled for an eight-yard touchdown on fourth-and-five from the USC 8. The score with 19 seconds left put Texas up 39-38 and a two-point conversion on -- what else -- a Young run gave the Longhorns a 41-38 win.

The Playoff matchups: No. 1 USC vs. No. 4 Ohio State, No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Penn State

Just missing out: No. 5 Oregon, No. 6 Notre Dame

The semifinals: There's no way that Texas and USC don't meet again, right? The Buckeyes would give USC a game, but Leinart, Bush and company are too much for the Ohio State defense. The other semifinal is a no-brainer too. Paterno's last great team is no match for Young and Texas. We're going with the team that has the best player on the field.

The finals: Entering the Rose Bowl, the storyline was all about USC. And if this game was the culmination of a College Football Playoff, the Trojans would be heading for a third straight championship. Would USC get it? No.

The Trojans were basically a yard away from the win on White's fourth-down run. But that possession was sandwiched by Young's fourth-quarter brilliance. Overall, he was 30-40 passing for 267 yards and had 19 carries for 200 yards and three touchdowns. It's hard to bet against a performance like that. Texas wins.

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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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