2005 Sugar Bowl
Name=2005 Sugar Bowl
Date=January 3, 2005
Visitor School=Virginia Tech
Visitor Name Short=Virginia Tech
Home School=Auburn University
Home Name Short=Auburn
New Orleans, Louisiana
Odds= Auburn by 7
Halftime=Bowl Games of America
Mike Tirico, Tim Brantand Terry Bowden
The 2005 Sugar Bowl was a postseason American
college football bowl gamebetween the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Auburn Tigers at the Louisiana Superdomein New Orleans, Louisiana, on January 3, 2005. It was the 71st edition of the annual Sugar Bowlfootball contest. Virginia Tech represented the Atlantic Coast Conference(ACC) in the contest, while Auburn represented the Southeastern Conference(SEC). In a defensive struggle, Auburn earned a 16–13 victory despite a late-game rally by Virginia Tech.
Virginia Tech was selected as a participant in the game after winning the ACC football championship during the team's first year in the conference. Tech, which finished 10–2 in the regular season prior to the Sugar Bowl, defeated 16th-ranked Virginia and ninth-ranked Miami en route to the game. Auburn finished the regular season undefeated and 12–0. The Tigers defeated fourth-ranked LSU and fifth-ranked Georgia during the course of the season, and were one of three teams to finish the regular season undefeated. The other two undefeated teams, Southern California and Oklahoma, were selected to play in the Bowl Championship Series national championship game. Auburn, by virtue of its lower ranking in the BCS poll, was left out of the national championship and was selected to play in the Sugar Bowl.
Pre-game media coverage of the game focused on Auburn being left out of the national championship game, a point of controversy for Auburn fans and other observers in the weeks leading up to the game. Much was made of that fact and the success of Auburn
running backs Carnell Williamsand Ronnie Brown, each of whom were considered among the best at their position. On the Virginia Tech side, senior quarterback Bryan Randallhad a record-breaking season and was predicted to continue his success in the Sugar Bowl. Both teams also had high-ranked defenses, and Tech's appearance in the 2000 Sugar Bowlalso was mentioned in the runup to the game.
The 2005 Sugar Bowl kicked off on January 3, 2005 at 8:00 p.m. EST. Early in the first quarter, the Tigers took an 3–0 lead. Following an
interceptionby the Auburn defense, the Tigers were able to extend their lead to 6–0. In the second quarter, another field goal resulted in three points for the Tigers. At halftime, Auburn led, 9–0. Auburn opened the second half with its first and only touchdowndrive of the game, giving Auburn a 16–0 lead, which it held into the fourth quarter. In that quarter, Tech scored its first touchdown of the game but did not convert the two-point try, making the score 16–6. Late in the quarter, Tech quarterback Bryan Randall cut Auburn's lead to 16–13 on an 80-yard pass that resulted in another touchdown. With almost no time remaining in the game, Virginia Tech was forced to attempt an onside kickto have another chance on offense. When Auburn recovered the kick, the Tigers were able to run out the clock and secure the win. In recognition of his game-winning performance, Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell was named the game's most valuable player.
Despite Auburn's victory and the Tigers' undefeated season, they were not named national champions. That honor went to the University of Southern California, which defeated Oklahoma in the 2005 national championship game. Three voters in the final
Associated Presspoll of the season voted Auburn the number one team in the country, but their votes were not enough to deny USC a national championship, as voted by members of the Associated Press and Coaches' polls. Several players from each team were selected in the 2005 NFL Draftand went on to careers in the National Football League.
Virginia Tech and Auburn each earned automatic spots in a BCS bowl game due to their status as conference champions, and were selected by the 2005 Sugar Bowl. Virginia Tech finished the season 10–2 and was named ACC football champion its first year in the conference. [http://www.hokiesports.com/football/recaps/1252004aaa.html Tech Meets Auburn in 71st Nokia Sugar Bowl Classic] Virginia Tech Athletics Department, Hokiesports.com. December 5, 2004. Accessed May 26, 2008.] Auburn, meanwhile, finished the season undefeated at 12–0, and was named champion of the SEC. [http://auburntigers.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/120504aaa.html Auburn To Face Virginia Tech In Nokia Sugar Bowl] Auburn Athletics Department, auburntigers.cstv.com. December 5, 2004. Accessed May 26, 2008.] Controversy erupted around Auburn's selection, as the Tigers had been denied a spot in the national championship game in favor of two other undefeated teams: the University of Southern California (USC) and Oklahoma. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=250040030 Leinart tosses Orange Bowl-record five touchdowns] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. January 4, 2005. Accessed May 31, 2008.]
The Virginia Tech Hokies entered the 2004 college football season having gone 8–5 in 2003, culminating with a 52–49 loss to California in the
2003 Insight Bowl. [ [http://www.hokiesports.com/football/pastschedules.html?season=2003 Virginia Tech Football Past Schedules (2003)] Virginia Tech Athletics Department, Hokiesports.com. Accessed May 26, 2008.] The 2003 season had also been Virginia Tech's final year in the Big East Conference, and Tech began the new season in the Atlantic Coast Conference. [ [http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/5335884/ Miami, Virginia Tech quietly join ACC] The Associated Press, MSNBC.com. July 2, 2004. Accessed March 13, 2008.] Tech started the season unranked for the first time since 1998, and was picked to finish sixth (out of 11 ACC teams) in the annual ACC preseason poll, held in July. [cite news|url=http://www.roanoke.com/sports/vtinsider/wb/15875|title= Hokie hotdogs hit it out of the park|last=King|first=Randy|date=December 23, 2004|work=Article|accessdate=2008-09-03] The Hokies' first game in their new conference was a non-conference contest in Washington, D.C.against the top-ranked USC Trojans. Tech lost, 24–13, [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=242410259 Bush fills void left by Williams] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. August 28, 2004. Accessed May 26, 2008.] but recovered to win its next game—against lightly regarded Western Michigan—in blowout fashion, 63–0. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=242550259 Virginia Tech 63, Western Mich 0] SportsTicker, ESPN.com. September 11, 2004. Accessed May 26, 2008.] In its first conference game in the ACC, the Hokies beat Duke, 47–17, to improve to a 2–1 record. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=242620259 Randall accounted for 231 total yards] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. September 18, 2004. Accessed May 26, 2008.] Their first win in the ACC was followed by their first loss, however, as the Hokies lost the next week to North Carolina State, 17–16, when Tech kicker Brandon Pace missed a last-second field goal. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=242690259 N. Carolina St. 17, Virginia Tech 16] SportsTicker, ESPN.com. September 25, 2004. Accessed May 26, 2008.]
Following the loss, Virginia Tech was 2–2 on the season, and faced the potential of being ineligible for a postseason bowl game if it did not improve its winning percentage. Those fears were for naught as the Hokies won their next eight games, finishing the season with a 10–2 record. [ [http://www.hokiesports.com/football/pastschedules.html?season=2004 Virginia Tech Football Past Schedules (2004)] Virginia Tech Athletics Department, Hokiesports.com. Accessed May 26, 2008.] With late-season wins over perennial rival, 16th-ranked Virginia, [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=243320259 Randall throws 2 second-half TDs for Hokies] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. November 27, 2004. Accessed May 26, 2008.] and fellow ACC newcomer, ninth-ranked Miami, [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=243392390 Tech wins conference in its first season] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. December 4, 2004. Accessed May 26, 2008.] Virginia Tech clinched the ACC football championship (the last year in which it would be decided without a conference championship game) and a bid to a
Bowl Championship Seriesgame. Because the ACC's normal bowl destination, the Orange Bowl, was hosting the national championship game, Virginia Tech was selected to attend the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana, instead.
Auburn, like Virginia Tech, had gone 8–5 during the 2003 college football season, [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/teams/schedule?teamId=2&year=2003 Auburn Tigers Schedule - 2003] ESPN.com, Accessed May 26, 2008.] and entered the 2004 season with high expectations. The Tigers were using a new offensive scheme—the
West Coast offense—and boasted two highly rated running backs on offense. In its first game of the 2004 season, the 18th-ranked Auburn football team overwhelmed the University of Louisiana-Monroe, 31–0. It was Auburn's first shutout since 2002. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=242480002 Tigers' new West Coast offense roars in shutout] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. September 4, 2004. Accessed May 26, 2008.] One week later, the Tigers backed up their good start with an emphatic 43–14 victory over Southeastern Conferencefoe Mississippi State University. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=242550344 Williams leads Tigers with 122 rushing yards, 2 TDs] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. September 11, 2004. Accessed May 26, 2008.] In the third week of the season, Auburn faced its first challenge of the young season, against the fourth-ranked Louisiana State Tigers. In a hard-fought defensive struggle, Auburn won, 10–9, when a missed extra point was replayed after a penalty. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=242620002 LSU penalty gives Auburn second chance, victory] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. September 18, 2004. Accessed May 26, 2008.]
After an easy 33–3 victory over The Citadel, [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=242690002 Auburn tunes up for Vols with rout] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. September 25, 2004. Accessed May 25, 2004.] Auburn faced eighth-ranked Tennessee. The Tigers' defense forced six
turnovers en route to a 34–10 victory. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=242762633 Tigers D swarms freshman quarterbacks] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. October 2, 2004. Accessed May 26, 2008.] With the victory over Tennessee, Auburn reeled off another four victories and became a prominent candidate for inclusion in the national championship game. [http://articles.latimes.com/2004/nov/14/sports/sp-auburn14 Auburn’s Statement Is a Stump Speech] , "Los Angeles Times", November 14, 2004. Accessed August 24, 2008.] In the 11th week of the season, Auburn faced the fifth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs. After a defensive effort that held Georgia scoreless until late in the fourth quarter, the third-ranked Tigers won a 24–6 victory. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=243180002 Tigers hold Georgia scoreless for 57 minutes] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. November 13, 2004. Accessed May 26, 2008.] After defeating Alabama in their final regular-season game, Auburn entered the SEC championship game undefeated and in third place nationally. Although the Tigers defeated the Volunteers, 38–28, in the conference championship game, Auburn remained in third place because both USC and Oklahoma also remained undefeated. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=243390002 Tigers undefeated, likely out of title game] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. December 4, 2004. Accessed May 26, 2008.] With USC and Oklahoma selected to play in the national championship game, Auburn was forced into the Sugar Bowl. With the winner of the BCS Championship Game guaranteed first place in the Coaches Poll, Auburn fans held hopes that the combination of an overwhelming Tigers victory in the Sugar Bowl with Oklahoma defeating USC with a weak performance would cause enough voters in the AP Pollto put Auburn ahead of Oklahoma in their final poll. The result would have been a split national championship similar to what occurred the previous season. [http://articles.latimes.com/2005/jan/03/sports/sp-sugaradv3 Auburn Clings to Its Title Hopes] , "Los Angeles Times", January 3, 2005. Accessed August 24, 2008.]
In the weeks leading up to the game, media coverage of the game focused on Auburn's exclusion from the national championship game, a controversial point for Auburn fans and other observers in the weeks leading up to the game. In addition, both teams boasted high-ranked defenses that had performed well during the year. Much was made of that fact and the success of Auburn running backs Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown, each of whom were considered among the best players at their position. On the Virginia Tech side, senior quarterback Bryan Randall performed well for the Hokies during the regular season and was predicted to continue his success in the Sugar Bowl.
Shortly after the final pre-
bowl gameBowl Championship Series standings were released on December 4, Auburn was among several teams disgruntled with the system. One of these was California, which only lost to top-ranked USC, but was denied a bid to the prestigious Rose Bowl after Texas vaulted it in the rankings despite having the same record. The Golden Bears were forced to attend the less-attractive Holiday Bowlinstead. [ [http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=281550 Computers, humans agree: USC, Oklahoma are No. 1 and No. 2 teams] Jeff Potrykus, "Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel", December 5, 2004. Accessed May 31, 2008.] The Auburn Tigers, meanwhile, had completed their first 12-win regular season and won their first conference championship in 15 years, but in the final BCS rankings, Auburn was third, behind USC and Oklahoma. [http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/college_football/20041205-1525-fbc-sugarbowl.html Auburn's dream season collides with BCS reality] John Zenor, The Associated Press, SignOnSanDiego.com, December 5, 2004. Accessed May 31, 2008.] It was the first time since the creation of the BCS in 1998 that three major-conference college football teams were undefeated at the conclusion of the regular season. [ [http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/6653371/ Unprecedented headache for BCS] The Associated Press, MSNBC.com, December 5, 2004. Accessed June 2, 2008.] Some pundits and fans considered Auburn's failure to reach the championship game to be based on the fact that the Tigers had started with a lower ranking at the beginning of the season. The Tigers had been ranked 17th at the beginning of the season, while USC had been ranked first and Oklahoma second, the same spots they occupied at the end of the regular season. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2004&weekNumber=1&seasonType=2&pollId=1 2004 NCAA Football Rankings - Preseason (Aug. 22)] , ESPN.com, Accessed August 24, 2008.] [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankings?seasonYear=2004&weekNumber=16&seasonType=2&pollId=1 2004 NCAA Football Rankings - Week 15 (Dec. 5)] , ESPN.com, Accessed August 24, 2008.]
Sportswriters also pointed to the Tigers' tougher conference schedule when compared to those of USC and Oklahoma. SEC commissioner Mike Slive remarked, "If Auburn goes through this league undefeated, they deserve to play for the national championship." [http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/sports/2004/12/05/2004-12-05_sugar_is_bittersweet_for_unb.html Sugar is Bittersweet for Unbeaten Auburn] Dick Weiss, "New York Daily News", December 5, 2004. Accessed May 31, 2008.] Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer, in the runup to the game, seemingly agreed with the assessment, saying, "We started out playing Southern Cal and I believe this Auburn team is better." [ [http://www.sportsline.com/collegefootball/story/8044354 What, us worry? Auburn unincumbered at Sugar Bowl] SportsLine.com Wire Reports, CBS Sportsline, December 28, 2004. Accessed June 2, 2008.] Some writers also indicated USC's five-point win—in which the Trojans struggled—over rival UCLA as an indicator that the Tigers could be the better team. In the end, such arguments were unable to sway voters, who ranked USC first, Oklahoma second, and Auburn third in all of the major polls decided by human voters. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankingsindex?seasonYear=2004&weekNumber=16&seasonType=2 2004 NCAA Football Rankings - Week 15 (Dec. 5)] ESPN.com. December 5, 2004. Accessed June 1, 2008.] The Utah Utes, who were also undefeated at the conclusion of the regular season, received limited attention due to the fact that they were a member of a non-BCS conference. [Sportsline.com Wire Reports. [http://www.sportsline.com/collegefootball/story/8059184 "Utah says goodbye to Meyer with perfect season"] , cbs.sportsline.com. January 2, 2004. Accessed August 30, 2008.]
Due to the controversy surrounding Auburn's failure to be given a chance to play for the national championship and controversies involving teams lobbying for improved ratings in the poll, the Associated Press sent a cease-and-desist order to BCS officials, forbidding them the use of the AP Poll in calculating BCS ratings. [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A17429-2004Dec21.html?sub=AR AP Opts Out Of Formula For BCS] Mark Schlabach, "The Washington Post", December 22, 2004. Accessed May 31, 2008. Page D01.]
Auburn head coach
Tommy Tubervillewas named the Associated Press Coach of the Year on December 24, due in large part to his success in using Auburn's new West Coast offense to drive the Tigers to an undefeated 12–0 regular season. [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A24809-2004Dec24.html Tuberville Is Named Coach of Year] The Washington Post, December 25, 2004. Accessed June 19, 2008.] In response to his success, Auburn administrators agreed to a seven-year, $16 million contract extension with Tuberville prior to the Sugar Bowl. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=1953933 Coach agrees to new deal worth $16M] ESPN.com News Services, ESPN.com. December 27, 2004. June 22, 2008.] Tuberville planned an offense that finished the regular season averaging 33.4 points and 430.8 yards of total offenseper game. [http://www.roanoke.com/sports/vtfootball/wb/xp-16340 Challenge of stopping Auburn's offense two-fold] Mark Berman, "The Roanoke Times". January 3, 2005. Accessed June 24, 2008.]
Heading Auburn's offense on the field was quarterback Jason Campbell. Campbell finished the regular season with 2,511 yards and 19 touchdowns, one short of tying the Auburn record for most touchdowns in a single season. Campbell was second in the Southeastern Conference in passing yards per game (209.2), and was a first-team All-SEC selection. [http://auburntigers.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/120804aad.html Campbell, Williams, Tuberville Earn SEC Individual Honors] Auburn Tigers Athletic Department. December 8, 2004. Accessed June 23, 2008.]
Auburn's rushing offense was led by two highly regarded running backs:
Carnell Williamsand Ronnie Brown. The two men, combined with quarterback Campbell, ran for 15,739 yards and 129 career touchdowns prior to the Sugar Bowl. Williams led the SEC in all-purpose yardage (137.2 yards per game) and average yards per punt return(11.7). He finished the regular season with 1,104 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. The touchdown mark was the most recorded by a running back in the SEC that year. For his accomplishments, Williams was named a first-team All-SEC pick. Despite missing most of his first two seasons due to injuries, he ranked second on Auburn's all-time rushing list with 3,770 yards—behind only NFL and MLB star Bo Jackson. Williams also had the most rushing touchdowns in Auburn history (45) and was Auburn's leading scorer in school history (276 points). [http://www.sptimes.com/2005/01/03/Sports/Sugar_Bowl__AU_backfi.shtml Sugar Bowl: AU backfield the backbone] The Associated Press, Sptimes.com. January 3, 2005. Accessed June 24, 2008.] Brown accumulated 845 rushing yards and caught 34 passes for 314 yards during the season prior to the Sugar Bowl. He finished with eight touchdowns and was named a second-team All-SEC pick. His 34 receptions were 10 more than he earned in his first three seasons combined.
Despite the attention focused on Auburn's two star running backs, the team also boasted a capable corps of
wide receivers as well. Prior to the game, Auburn receiver Ben Obomanu said, "When you have your running game making big plays and the defense has to load the box ( defensive line) to make plays and try to stop the running game, that opens up things in the passing game." Auburn averaged more yards passing (241.4 per game) than running (189.4 per game).
Virginia Tech offense
Heading into the Sugar Bowl, the Virginia Tech offense was led by quarterback
Bryan Randall, who completed 149 of 268 passes (55.6 percent) for 1,965 yards, 19 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He also rushed for 466 yards and held Tech career records for total offense and passing yards. His 37 consecutive starts also are a school mark for a quarterback. [http://www.roanoke.com/sports/college/wb/xp-15537 Double redemption] Mark Berman, "The Roanoke Times". December 17, 2004. Accessed June 21, 2008.] In the preseason, Randall competed for the first-string quarterback spot with Marcus Vick until the latter was suspended from Tech for a semester after a criminal conviction. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/print?id=1956546&type=story Quarterback would contend to start] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. December 31, 2004. Accessed June 22, 2008.] In the weeks leading up to the Sugar Bowl, Randall was named the Virginia Division I Offensive Player of the Year by the " Roanoke Times" and was named the ACC Player of the Year. [http://www.hokiesports.com/football/sugarbowl05.mg.pdf 2005 Sugar Bowl Virginia Tech Media Guide] (PDF) "Bryan Randall" Virginia Tech Sports Information, December 2004. Blacksburg, Virginia. Page 27]
Tech's rushing offense featured two running backs who shared time on the field:
Mike Imohand Cedric Humes. During the regular season, Imoh rushed the ball 152 times for 704 yards, an average of 4.6 yards per carry. He scored four touchdowns and set a school record for rushing yards in a game when he ran for 243 yards in Virginia Tech's game against North Carolina. [http://www.hokiesports.com/football/sugarbowl05.mg.pdf 2005 Sugar Bowl Virginia Tech Media Guide] (PDF) "Mike Imoh" Virginia Tech Sports Information, December 2004. Blacksburg, Virginia. Page 20] Humes was on the field slightly less than Imoh, but earned 595 yards and five touchdowns on 124 carries. [http://www.hokiesports.com/football/sugarbowl05.mg.pdf 2005 Sugar Bowl Virginia Tech Media Guide] (PDF) "Cedric Humes" Virginia Tech Sports Information, December 2004. Blacksburg, Virginia. Page 19] Tech offensive tackle Jimmy Martinwas expected to play in the game after recovering from a high ankle sprain.
On special teams, Tech's Jim Davis blocked three field goals during the regular season, and teammate
Darryl Tappblocked a punt. Tech's success on special teams was at least partially due to head coach Frank Beamer's emphasis on that aspect of the game, a strategy known as "Beamerball." Due to Tech's acumen on special teams, Auburn was forced to spend extra time in preparing its special teams to face Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/bowls04/news/story?id=1953474 Auburn's special teams prepared] Scripps-Howard News Service, ESPN.com. December 26, 2004. Accessed June 20, 2008.]
The Sugar Bowl was a homecoming for Tech punter Vinnie Burns, who played high school football convert|15|mi|km|0 from the Louisiana Superdome, site of the Sugar Bowl. In addition, Burns' father, Ronnie Burns, was a longtime Sugar Bowl committee member, and Vinnie committed to attend Virginia Tech while the Hokies were in New Orleans to play in the 2000 Sugar Bowl, that year's national championship game. [http://www.roanoke.com/sports/vtfootball/wb/xp-15651 Burns returns to roots] Randy King, "The Roanoke Times", December 19, 2004. Accessed June 2, 2008.]
Before the Sugar Bowl, Auburn had the top-ranked scoring defense in the country (allowing 11.2 points per game), the fifth-ranked total defense (allowing 269.5 total yards per game), eighth in passing defense (allowing 163 yards passing per game), and 16th in rushing defense (allowing 106.5 yards rushing per game). [http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/football/sec/2004-12-29-auburn-rogers_x.htm Rogers' neighborhood sees unhappy visitors] Andy Gardiner, "USA Today", December 29, 2004. Accessed June 2, 2008.]
CornerbackCarlos Rogers was one of the key players on the defensive squad. Rogers, who won the Jim Thorpe Award—given annually to the best defensive back in the country—earned consensus All-Americahonors and was a finalist for the Bronco Nagurski Awardand a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, each given to the best defensive college football player in the United States. LinebackerTravis Williams had the most tackles on the team during the regular season, finishing with 76. He also tied for third on the team in tackles for loss (nine), had two interceptions, two sacks, and was named a second-team All-SEC selection.
Senior safety Junior Rosegreen, freshman end Stanley McClover and junior
nose guardTommy Jackson were first-team all-SEC picks, signifying they were the best players at their position in the conference. Rosegreen had five interceptions during the regular season, including four in Auburn's game against Tennessee. That single-game performance tied the SEC record and set the Auburn record for the most interceptions in one game. [http://auburntigers.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/120704aaa.html Campbell, Tuberville Earn AP Player, Coach Awards; Tigers Honored With 15 AP Selections] Auburn Athletic Department. December 7, 2004. Accessed June 23,  .] Jackson finished the regular season with 49 tackles, six tackles for loss, and one sack.
Linebacker Antarrious Williams was scheduled to miss the game after undergoing surgery to repair a dislocated bone suffered in the Tigers' game against Georgia. Williams had 44 tackles during the regular season, [ [http://auburntigers.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/stats/2004-2005/histcarr.html#102 Individual Career History, "A. Williams"] Auburn Athletic Department. January 10, 2005. Accessed June 23, 2008.] and had been replaced by Derrick Graves in the SEC championship game. Graves was expected to do so again in the Sugar Bowl. [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2004/football/ncaa/specials/bowls/2004/12/17/bc.fbc.auburn.tuberville.ap/ Auburn turns attention from BCS to Virginia Tech] The Associated Press, SI.com, December 17, 2004. Accessed June 2, 2008.]
Virginia Tech defense
At the conclusion of the regular season, Virginia Tech's defense was ranked third nationally in scoring defense (12.6 points allowed per game), fourth in total defense (269.5 total yards allowed per game) and fifth in pass defense (149.8 passing yards allowed per game). [http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/football/acc/2004-12-28-vatech_x.htm Va. Tech gets its focus back] Andy Gardiner, USA Today. December 28, 2004. Accessed June 22, 2008.] The Tech defense featured two highly regarded cornerbacks, Jimmy Williams and Eric Green, who finished the regular season with 50 tackles and 31 tackles, respectively. Williams also had four interceptions (the most on the team), including one returned for a touchdown, [http://www.hokiesports.com/football/sugarbowl05.mg.pdf 2005 Sugar Bowl Virginia Tech Media Guide] (PDF) "Eric Green" Virginia Tech Sports Information, December 2004. Blacksburg, Virginia. Page 31] and was named first-team All-ACC. Green, meanwhile, had one interception. [http://www.hokiesports.com/football/sugarbowl05.mg.pdf 2005 Sugar Bowl Virginia Tech Media Guide] (PDF) "Eric Green" Virginia Tech Sports Information, December 2004. Blacksburg, Virginia. Page 17] Auburn
wide receiverCourtney Taylor praised the two players highly in an interview before the game, saying, "Those cornerbacks are amazing to me every time I look at them. I think, 'God, those guys are very athletic.' We're going to have our hands full."
Linebacker Mikal Baaqee was first on the team in tackles, recording 63 during the regular season. [http://www.hokiesports.com/football/sugarbowl05.mg.pdf 2005 Sugar Bowl Virginia Tech Media Guide] (PDF) "Eric Green" Virginia Tech Sports Information, December 2004. Blacksburg, Virginia. Page 11] Fellow linebacker
Vince Hallranked second, with 62.
On the defensive line,
defensive tackleJonathan Lewis was considered a key player. Though limited by a cast protecting a broken pinky fingersuffered during Virginia Tech's game against Virginia, Lewis was expected to continue to perform well. Heading into the Sugar Bowl, Lewis had 38 tackles, including 10 tackles for loss and four sacks. [ [http://www.roanoke.com/sports/vtfootball/wb/xp-16178 Lewis now one of the big guys] Randy King, "The Roanoke Times". December 30, 2004. Accessed June 21, 2008.] Also on the defensive line was Darryl Tapp, who led the team in sacks, tackles for loss, and quarterback hurries. [http://www.hokiesports.com/football/sugarbowl05.mg.pdf 2005 Sugar Bowl Virginia Tech Media Guide] (PDF) "Eric Green" Virginia Tech Sports Information, December 2004. Blacksburg, Virginia. Pages 29–30] Tapp earned first-team All-ACC honors and had 55 tackles and one interception during the regular season.
The 2005 Sugar Bowl kicked off at 8:00 p.m. EST on January 3, 2005, in New Orleans,
Louisiana. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=250030259 Sweet enough? Auburn finishes season 13-0] The Associated Press, ESPN.com. January 3, 2005. Accessed May 22, 2008.] Official attendance was listed as 77,349. [ [http://www.allstatesugarbowl.org/ Year-by-Year Results] Allstate Sugar Bowl, Allstatesugarbowl.com. Accessed May 22, 2008.] Mike Tirico, Tim Brant, Terry Bowden, and Suzy Shusterwere the announcers for the television broadcast, which was aired on ABC.2005 Nokia Sugar Bowl Classic Official Souvenir Magazine. Professional Sports Publications, New York, New York. December 2005. Page 133.] About 10 million households watched the game on television in the United States, giving the game a Nielsen Ratingof 9.5 and making it the 24th most popular Bowl Championship Series game in terms of television ratings. [ [http://www.bcsfootball.org/bcsfb/tvratings 2004-05 Bowl Game TV Ratings] Fox Sports, BCSfootball.org. Accessed May 18, 2008.] The game was also broadcast on ESPN Radio, and was commentated by Mark Jones, Bob Davie, and Holly Rowe. Spread bettors favored Auburn to win the game by seven points. [ [http://www.roanoke.com/sports/vtfootball/wb/xp-15973 2nd helping for Tech?] "The 2004 Story" Randy King, "The Roanoke Times". December 26, 2004. Accessed June 22, 2008.]
Pregame entertainment was provided by Bowl Games of America, a group composed of more than 2,000 performing-arts bands, dance teams, and cheer groups from across the United States. Together, they performed the song "
God Bless America."2005 Nokia Sugar Bowl Classic Official Souvenir Magazine. Professional Sports Publications, New York, New York. December 2005. Pages 44–45.] The traditional pregame singing of the national anthem was sung by Brad Arnoldfrom the band 3 Doors Down. Dick Honig was the referee, the umpirewas Jim Krogstad, and the linesman was Brent Durbin. [ [http://auburntigers.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/stats/2004-2005/au13.html Virginia Tech vs AU (Jan. 3, 2005)] "Box Score (Final)" Auburn Athletics Department. January 3, 2005. Accessed June 24, 2008.]
Following the ceremonial pre-game coin toss, Auburn elected to kick off to Virginia Tech to begin the game, ensuring the Tigers would have possession to begin the second half. Tech began the first drive of the game from its 20-yard line following a
touchback. The Hokies initially had success moving the ball, as quarterback Bryan Randall rushed for seven yards on the game's first play, then completed a four-yard pass to wide receiver Eddie Royal two plays later for a first down. The Auburn defense recovered, however, and the Hokies did not gain another first down and were forced to punt. Auburn recovered the ball and began its first drive of the game from its 26-yard line. On the Tigers' first play, quarterback Jason Campbell threw a long pass to Cooper Wallace for 35 yards. This was followed by another long play as running back Ronnie Brown ran for 31 yards. After the initial shock of the Auburn offense, the Virginia Tech defense firmed up, and Auburn's next three plays were stopped for losses or minimal gains. Facing a fourth down at the Virginia Tech six-yard line, Auburn sent in kicker John Vaughn, who kicked a 23-yard field goalfor the game's first points. With 8:35 remaining in the first quarter, Auburn took an early 3–0 lead.
Following the post-field goal kickoff, the Virginia Tech offense attempted to answer Auburn's quick score. Unfortunately for the Hokies, their second drive fared even worse than the first. Tech committed a 10-yard penalty, suffered an eight-yard loss on a play, then had a Bryan Randall pass intercepted by Auburn safety Junior Rosegreen. Rosegreen returned the ball 31 yards, and put Auburn's offense into good field position for its second drive of the game. Auburn also suffered an early penalty in its drive, but moved the ball with another long play—a 23-yard pass to Courtney Taylor—to recover. Again, however, the Virginia Tech defense recovered to force Auburn into a fourth down and a field goal attempt. Vaughn returned to the field and kicked a 19-yard field goal, giving Auburn a 6–0 lead with 1:06 remaining in the quarter.
With time in the quarter running out, Virginia Tech fielded the post-score kickoff and executed a quick series of plays, gaining a first down before time ran out. At the end of the first quarter, Auburn held an early 6–0 lead. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/playbyplay?gameId=250030259&period=1 1st Qtr Play-by-Play] ESPN.com, January 3, 2005. Accessed May 22, 2008.]
Virginia Tech began the second quarter in possession of the ball and driving down the field. Bryan Randall completed a 10-yard pass for another first down, but after Tech failed to gain another, the Hokies were forced to punt. Auburn reciprocated by going
three and outand punting the ball back to Virginia Tech. In its first full drive of the second quarter, the Hokies had their best drive of the first half. After a holding penalty nullified a long kickoff return, Tech began at its 24-yard line. Randall completed a nine-yard pass to tight end Jeff King, then ran for another nine yards on a quarterback scramble. He followed the first-down run by completing three consecutive long passes of 16 yards, 13 yards, and 31 yards, respectively. The last pass, to wide receiver Josh Hyman, drove Virginia Tech inside the Auburn two-yard line. There, however, the Tech offense faltered. On three plays, Tech failed to cross the goal line, gaining only one yard in the process. Facing fourth down and needing just one yard for a touchdown, Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamerelected to attempt to gain the touchdown, rather than send in his kicker for a field goal attempt. The attempted touchdown pass by Randall fell incomplete, and Virginia Tech turned the ball over on downs without scoring any points.
Auburn's offense took over at its one-yard line after Tech's failure to score. Jason Campbell orchestrated a successful drive that took Auburn from the shadow of its own
end zone, completing passes of 16 yards, 15 yards, and 37 yards in the process. Inside the Virginia Tech red zone, however, the Auburn offense again stumbled. As it had in its two previous scoring drives, Auburn was forced to send in kicker John Vaughn despite being inside the Virginia Tech 10-yard line. Vaughn's 24-yard kick was successful, and with 1:50 remaining in the second quarter, Auburn extended its lead to 9–0.
With little time remaining before
halftime, Virginia Tech used a hurry-up offense. Randall completed a 23-yard pass to Eddie Royal and ran for 22 yards on his own, but threw three consecutive incomplete passes to end the drive. Tech was forced to punt the ball away, and the first half came to an end. At halftime, Auburn led, 9–0. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/playbyplay?gameId=250030259&period=2 2nd Qtr Play-by-Play] ESPN.com, January 3, 2005. Accessed May 22, 2008.]
The halftime show was presented by Bowl Games of America, a collection of dance troupes,
marching bands, and cheerleading squads from across the United States. Together, the organizations presented a pirate-themed show based on the character of Jean Lafitte, a noted brigandwho lived in New Orleans—site of the game—during the War of 1812.
Because Virginia Tech received the ball to begin the game, Auburn received the ball to begin the second half. The Tigers started the first drive of the second half at their 22-yard line. Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown alternated carries as Auburn gained 17 yards in their first three plays. Jason Campbell completed a pass for a five-yard loss, then, on the fifth play of the drive, completed a 53-yard pass to Anthony Mix. The pass was the longest play of the game, and drove the Tigers inside the Virginia Tech
red zone. Three plays later, Campbell connected with Devin Aromashoduon a five-yard pass for the game's first touchdown. With 10:39 remaining in the third quarter, Auburn had taken a 16–0 lead.
After Auburn's kickoff, Virginia Tech started its first drive of the second half at its 20-yard line. Down by 16 points, Tech needed to score. The Hokies gained a quick first down, but a five-yard penalty and a sack of Bryan Randall prevented Tech from gaining another. The Hokies were forced to punt, and Auburn took over at its 44-yard line. Despite having good field position, the Tigers went three and out. Following the punt, Virginia Tech reciprocated by also going three and out. With 3:47 remaining in the quarter, Auburn began an offensive drive from its 35-yard line. From the beginning of the drive, however, the Tigers had problems. The first play of Auburn's drive was a 10-yard penalty against the Tigers. The second resulted in a one-yard loss by Ronnie Brown, who attempted to rush through the middle of the
defensive line. On the third play, Virginia Tech cornerback Jimmy Williams intercepted an errant pass by Jason Campbell. Though Williams was unable to advance the ball, the Hokies still took over on offense, and with 2:38 remaining in the quarter, had their best field position since the first half.
The first play of the Tech drive resulted in a 12-yard gain as Josh Hyman rushed for 12 yards and a first down on an
end-around. Running back Cedric Humes was stopped for a loss on the first play after Hyman's rush, but earned 10 yards on two subsequent rushes, setting up a fourth down. Needing one yard for a first down, behind by 16 points, and with time running down in the quarter, Tech head coach Frank Beamer elected to attempt the first down play rather than kick a field goal. Humes again rushed the ball, and as time ran out in the third quarter, picked up enough ground for the first down. With one quarter of play remaining, Auburn led Virginia Tech 16–0, but the Hokies had picked up a first down inside the Auburn 10-yard line to begin the fourth quarter. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/playbyplay?gameId=250030259&period=3 3rd Qtr Play-by-Play] ESPN.com, January 3, 2005. Accessed May 23, 2008.]
Virginia Tech began the fourth quarter in possession of the ball, and facing a first down at the Auburn 10-yard line. In three consecutive plays, however, the Hokies only picked up a total of four yards. Needing six yards to get a touchdown, Virginia Tech sent in kicker Brandon Pace to attempt a 23-yard field goal. Despite the short distance, Pace missed the kick. With 13:56 remaining in the game, Auburn still held a 16–0 lead.
Following the missed field goal, Auburn took over on offense at its six-yard line—the point from which Tech had missed the kick. Ronnie Brown picked up 13 yards and a first down on three rushes. Carnell Williams then picked up three yards, and Jason Campbell threw a seven-yard pass that gave Auburn another first down. A five-yard penalty against Virginia Tech pushed Auburn's offense near midfield, and Ronnie Brown returned to the field, rushing the ball four consecutive times for 16 yards and driving the Tigers into Virginia Tech territory. Facing a fourth down and one yard, Auburn elected to give the ball to Brown again. On the one-yard run, however, Brown
fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Virginia Tech's Mikal Baagee with 8:38 remaining.
Virginia Tech's offense came on to the field desperately needing to score quickly. Though the deficit was only 16 points, and could be made up with two touchdowns and two two-point conversions, the limited time remaining meant the task would be difficult, even if Virginia Tech scored quickly. The Hokies began the drive with a 17-yard pass by quarterback Bryan Randall. Justin Hamilton rushed for five yards, and Randall completed a six-yard pass for another first down. The Tigers helped matters by committing a 15-yard penalty, which put the Hokies inside Auburn territory. Three plays later, Randall capitalized on the opportunity by completing a 29-yard pass to Josh Morgan for a touchdown and the Hokies' first points of the game. Tech attempted a two-point conversion, but the pass attempt fell incomplete. With 6:57 remaining, Virginia Tech now trailed 16–6.
After receiving the post-touchdown kickoff, Auburn began to run out the clock. The Tigers failed to pick up a first down, and after going three and out, punted the ball back to Virginia Tech. The Hokies started their drive at their two-yard line, and Randall began it successfully by completing a 20-yard pass, rushing for 10 yards, then completing a five-yard pass to bring the Hokies near midfield. On the fourth play of the drive, however, Randall was intercepted by Auburn's Derrick Graves. The Tigers, their offense again on the field, began running out the clock again. Tech attempted to interrupt Auburn's clock management by calling timeouts after each play, stopping the clock with each timeout. Virginia Tech forced Auburn into a three and out, and the Tigers again punted the ball away with 2:13 remaining.
After the ball rolled into the end zone for a
touchback, Virginia Tech began its final drive at its 20-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Bryan Randall completed an 80-yard touchdown pass to Josh Morgan. The score plus the extra pointcut Auburn's lead to 16–13. With time in the game almost exhausted, Virginia Tech was forced to attempt an onside kickin order to have a chance to get another offensive drive. Because the Hokies had used their final timeouts to stop the clock on Auburn's previous drive, Auburn would be free to run out the game's final minutes. Despite the hopes of Virginia Tech for a last-second miracle, the Auburn Tigers recovered the kick, allowing them to run out the clock and clinch a 16–13 victory. [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/playbyplay?gameId=250030259&period=4 4th Qtr Play-by-Play] ESPN.com, January 3, 2005. Accessed May 25, 2008.]
Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell completed 11 of 16 passes for 189 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, and was named the game's most valuable player. Despite his performance, he was neither the leading scorer on his team nor the overall best performer in the game. Auburn kicker John Vaughn was successful on all three of his
field goalattempts and also succeeded on his sole extra pointkick in the game, resulting in 10 Auburn points. [http://auburntigers.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/stats/2004-2005/au13.html#GAME.IND Virginia Tech vs AU Box Score] "Individual Statistics (Final)" Auburn Athletics Department. January 3, 2005. Accessed June 24, 2008.] On the opposite side of the ball, Virginia Tech quarterback Bryan Randall completed 21 of his 38 passes for 299 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Virginia Tech kicker Branden Pace missed his sole field goal attempt of the game, a 23-yard kick.
On the ground, Auburn running back Ronnie Brown led all rushers with 68 yards on 14 carries. Second was Auburn's Carnell Williams, who gained 61 yards on 19 carries. Bryan Randall was the Hokies' leading rusher, accumulating 45 yards on nine carries. Tech's two running backs, Mike Imoh and Cedric Humes, were stymied by the Auburn defense and managed just 26 yards on 12 combined carries. Virginia Tech wide receiver Josh Morgan finished the game with three receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns, making him the game's most prolific receiver. Auburn's Courtney Taylor was second, with five catches for 87 yards, and Tech's Josh Hyman was third with five catches for 71 yards.
For the defense, Virginia Tech cornerback Jimmy Williams was the top performer. Williams had 10 tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss, and one interception. [http://auburntigers.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/stats/2004-2005/au13.html#GAME.DEF Virginia Tech vs AU Box Score] "Defensive Statistics (Final)" Auburn Athletics Department. January 3, 2005. Accessed June 24, 2008.] Tech's Mikal Baaqee had eight tackles and one fumble recovery, making him the game's second-leading tackler. Auburn defender Derrick Graves was the most prolific tackler for the Tigers, making seven tackles and catching one interception of an errant Bryan Randall pass. Three players had one sack—two for Virginia Tech and one for Auburn.
With the win, Auburn finished the season undefeated, with 13 wins and zero losses. [http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/football/sec/2005-01-04-auburn-folo_x.htm 13-0 season, Sugar Bowl win 'hard to top,' Auburn's Tuberville says] Andy Gardiner, USA Today. January 4, 2005. Accessed June 25, 2008.] Virginia Tech's loss gave it a final record of 10–3. [ [http://www.hokiesports.com/football/pastschedules.html?season=2004 Virginia Tech Football Past Schedules] "2004-2005" Virginia Tech Sports Information Department. Accessed June 25, 2008.]
The victory gave Auburn fans hope that if Oklahoma won the 2005 BCS National Championship Game, a split national championship would result. By contract, the winner of the BCS National Championship Game is voted number one in the USA Today Coaches' Poll. In contrast, the Associated Press poll has no such restriction. Auburn's thin margin of victory over Tech put the prospect of split national title in doubt, though not out of reach. [ [http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/collegesports/2002139718_sugar04.html Sugar Bowl: Auburn gets sweet victory] Paul Newberry, The Associated Press, The Seattle Times. January 4, 2005. Accessed June 25, 2008.] USC's blowout 55–19 victory over Oklahoma, [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A48865-2005Jan5.html USC Notches Another 1] Liz Clarke, "The Washington Post". January 5, 2005. Accessed June 25, 2008.] however, made it likely that USC would be the overwhelming choice for first place. When the final college football polls of the season were released, USC was voted number one by a large margin, though three voters in the Associated Press poll voted Auburn first. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/rankingsindex?seasonYear=2004 2004 NCAA Football Rankings - Final (Jan. 4)] ESPN.com. Accessed June 25, 2008.] More than three years after the game, ESPN sportswriter Ted Miller rated the game second on his list of victims of the BCS system, just behind undefeated USC being left out of the championship game in 2003. [ [http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3403882 BCS system leaves long trail of wounded victims] Ted Miller, ESPN.com. May 20, 2008. Accessed May 31, 2008.]
The Tigers lost 18 players due to graduation, and several juniors elected to enter the
2005 NFL Draftas well. [ [http://www.nfl.com/draft/history/fulldraft?season=2005&round=round1#round1 2005 NFL Draft History: Full Draft] The National Football League, NFL.com. Accessed July 5, 2008.] During the first round of the draft, Auburn had four players selected: Ronnie Brown, with the second overall pick, Carnell Williams (fifth), Carlos Rogers (ninth), and Jason Campbell (25th). [ [http://insider.espn.go.com/nfldraft/draft05/tracker/school?name=a&action=login&appRedirect=http%3A%2F%2Finsider.espn.go.com%2Fnfldraft%2Fdraft05%2Ftracker%2Fschool%3Fname%3Da NFL Draft Tracker: 2005 "A"] ESPN.com. Accessed August 24, 2008.] Virginia Tech had three players selected in the 2005 draft: Eric Green (75th), Vincent Fuller (108th), and Jon Dunn (217th). [ [http://insider.espn.go.com/nfldraft/draft05/tracker/school?name=v&action=login&appRedirect=http%3A%2F%2Finsider.espn.go.com%2Fnfldraft%2Fdraft05%2Ftracker%2Fschool%3Fname%3Dv NFL Draft Tracker: 2005 "V"] ESPN.com. Accessed August 24, 2008.] Virginia Tech's appearance in the Sugar Bowl helped its recruiting efforts in the state of Virginia, with eight of the state's top recruits (ranked by the "Roanoke Times" newspaper), pledging to attend Tech. [ [http://www.roanoke.com/sports/college/wb/xp-15933 Feeling right at home] Doug Doughty, "The Roanoke Times". December 25, 2004. Accessed May 21, 2008.]
The visiting fans of Auburn and Virginia Tech injected tens of millions of dollars into the New Orleans economy, despite high food, travel, and lodging costs that forced some fans to cut discretionary spending during their trips. [ [http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/xp-16338 Big Easy not the Big Cheap] Mark Berman, "The Roanoke Times". January 3, 2005. Accessed June 24, 2008.]
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