Archive for Thursday, January 3, 2008

Texas, ASU bowl game highlights 2007 finale

Column: Off the Rim

January 3, 2008

It hasn't been 2008 very long, but - wow - have there been some highlights.

Of course, the NCAA bowl games have been the primary events during the past few days. Sadly, only seven of the 28 bowls completed have been played in 2008.

If you think 28 bowl games are too many, just remember there are four left. Thirty two bowls? That's outrageous.

The logistics of more than half of the teams in the country playing in a bowl comes down to one thing - money. Most bowls have a corporate sponsor to go along with the bowl name. Try this one on for size - San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.

Well, I won't rant about the number of ridiculous bowls any further. It's time to recall the great games and highlights of the past week.

The bowl season kicked off with a few close contests, including a game-saving blocked field goal and a game-winning field goal.

Up and down the line, there were close games and plays that made your jaw drop. But only one game really caught my attention last week.

It featured 86 combined points, six turnovers and one embarrassed coach's stepson.

That involved one play that was shown several times that night and will continue to be shown on highlight reels. It included a backwards pass, illegal touch of the ball, a lateral and a rumble down field by a University of Texas player.

Yet in the end, no one, including the officials knew what to rule.

Here is what happened, as Arizona State's quarterback Rudy Carpenter was being sacked, he attempted to throw the ball. The pass went backwards and rolled on the turn, nearly bouncing out of bounds, but stayed in the field of play.

Meanwhile, Chris Jessie, stepson of Texas coach Mack Brown and member of the Texas football operations staff, was calling for an intentional grounding call while standing on the field. Jessie then reached down to pick up the rolling ball, which bounced over his hand and continued in bounds.

Two players fought for the ball. It was flung back into the middle of the field, where a Longhorns' player scooped it up. He ran about 20 yards before being tackled near midfield.

Presumably, it should have been Texas' ball as the Longhorns tried to add to their 21-0 lead. Not so fast.

After a 12-minute review of the play and numerous replays on television, the officials ruled otherwise. They said Jessie touched the ball, which is illegal interference and an unsportsmanlike foul. Arizona State was granted possession half the distance to the goal from the previous spot.

So, the Sun Devils took over at the Texas 7 yard line for a first-down-and-goal. Nope, wait another minute.

The officials then ruled it was fourth-down-and-goal at the 7, because the previous play was third down. On the next play, ASU scored a touchdown and momentum shifted toward the Sun Devils.

In the end, Texas won 54-32 and saved Jessie from being the next Steve Bartman. Jessie and Brown joked after the game about it being a family affair. It's amazing how a win can make bad things seem so wonderful.

Well, that game was the highlight end to a wild 2007 year. New Year's Day kept us busy with six football games, some of which were close and a few that were snooze fests.

I enjoyed the Michigan-Florida contest. Big plays, great throws and plenty of momentum changers kept it interesting. The Wolverines snuck out with a victory for their departing coach, Lloyd Carr. Way to go maize and blue.

Well, it's been a fun beginning to a new year, although I should wait to say anything until tonight's game is over. Yep, the Orange Bowl. My beloved Kansas Jayhawks will take on the Hokies of Virginia Tech.

It will be the mythical bird battle in Miami. My expression Friday in Eudora will explain how the game goes tonight.

Go Jayhawks.


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