The world of college football on Saturday was filled with major rivalries that had massive playoff implications. Fans traveled all over the country to see teams annihilate hated rivals.
Florida A&M vs. Bethune- Cookman
The 2001 Florida Classic between FAMU and BCC was more than a great rivalry, the game was a revelation. Florida A&M revealed to the 70,112 people that made their way to the Citrus Bowl on Saturday that they can beat a solid team by running the ball. By rushing for a season-high 269 yards, FAMU toppled their rival Bethune-Cookman 31-21.
At halftime the Rattlers were down 14-9, but the dominant, dynamic duo of Kelsie Lordeus and O.J. Marchbanks put FAMU on its back and ran to victory lane. The duo ran the ball successfully on more than 50 percent of the offense plays. As a result with 26 rushing attempts, Kelsie Lordeus scampered for a career high and Florida Classic record of 186 yards. O.J. Marchbanks was the star of the very popular “jumbo formation,” thus converting on several key short-yardage situations.
With the win, Florida A&M has earned its second straight Mid-Eastern Athletic Championship and a NCAA playoff berth for the sixth straight season. The Rattlers are now 7-3 overall and 7-1 in the MEAC.
No one knew what to expect from this FAMU team that had to overcome the loss of some great players, most notably Jacquay Nunnally. But the Rattlers had his replacement ready to go in T.J. Hines, only to see him fall to injury during the season. That was only one of the obstacles that the Rattlers had to overcome during this rocky 2001 season. Despite all the speed bumps and road blocks along the way, this determined Rattler team struck the MEAC conference and took their championship once again.
Florida State (20) vs. Florida (3)
Some college football fans were in Gainesville for the annual end-of-season clash between the Florida State Seminoles and the Florida Gators. Bobby Bowden, the coach of FSU, did not get the miracle that he felt his team needed to win on Saturday as a young Seminole team lost 37-13 to Florida in the swamp.
The Gators quarterback, Rex Grossman, had a sensational game passing for 290 yards with two touchdowns. The offensive line was just as tremendous, shielding Grossman from the FSU pass rush.
The Heisman hopeful did have an interception in the third quarter that was one of two turnovers that placed the Seminoles inside Florida’s own 10-yard line. Florida’s superb defense sealed the game by only allowing three points on those two trips.
The loss dropped FSU to 6-4 and maybe out of the Associated Press top 25 poll for the first time since the 1989 season. And with Maryland beating North Carolina State 23-19, the Seminoles will not be crowned as the king of the Atlantic Coast Conference for the first time since they joined the conference in 1992.
As for Florida, the win will keep them in the hunt for a national title. Earnest Graham, their leading rusher, twisted his right knee during the game, but will have two weeks to recover before they face Tennessee.
Auburn (18) vs. Alabama
The fierce interstate rivalry entitled “The Iron Bowl” between Auburn and Alabama is one that always amounts to a close game. However on Saturday, the Crimson Tide shocked the state of Alabama and served Auburn the most lopsided loss in the series in 24 years, 31-7.
Alabama’s first year coach Dennis Franchione made two excellent decisions in starting running back Santonio Beard, who rushed for 199 yards, and quarterback Andrew Zow, who passed for 221 yards. The victory gave Alabama a chance at making a bowl at 5-5, but totally destroyed Auburn hopes for wrapping up the western division of the SEC.
other scores from major rivalries
Tennessee (6) 38
Washington State (10) 14
Washington (14) 26
Virginia Tech (17) 31
South Carolina (22) 20
UCLA (21) 0
Stanford (15) 35