UW, OSU Ready To Do Battle In BCS Bowls

Jan. 1, 2001

UW, OSU are ready to do battle. The Huskies put their No. 4 ranking on the line today when they meet No. 14 Purdue in the 87th edition of the Grandaddy of them all - the Rose Bowl. In the final bowl game of the Jan. 1 lineup, No. 5 Oregon State will meet storied Irish of Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. The game will mark the first-ever meeting between the two programs.

2001 Rose Bowl Preview

PASADENA, Calif. - Fourth-quarter magic got No. 4 Washington to the Rose Bowl. At least one member of the Huskies has had enough of the nail-biting finishes.

'They're never that fun,' fullback Pat Conniff said. 'They're great for the crowds. For a player, it takes years off your life.'

The Huskies (10-1), who face No. 14 Purdue (8-3) in the 87th Rose Bowl on Monday, rallied for all but two of their wins. Coach Rick Neuheisel said it was no accident.

When he arrived at Washington in 1999, Neuheisel said, one stat jumped out: The 6-6 Huskies were outscored 97-31 in the fourth quarter the previous season.

'I said, 'If we could just turn around what we did in the fourth quarter, we can win all those close games that got away from us and put ourselves back in the Rose Bowl picture,'' Neuheisel said.

Washington improved significantly last season, scoring 106 fourth-quarter points to 82 for the opposition while going 7-5. But that was nothing compared to this season, when the count was 144-68.

'I have not seen a team that's been so good in the fourth quarter,' Purdue coach Joe Tiller said. 'Look at their fourth-quarter scoring and forget the rest of it, that tells you a lot about this team.'

Tiller hopes his team is in a position to win the game in the fourth quarter. Most of Washington's opponents were, all but one lost.

The biggest comebacks were against California, which led the Huskies 24-13 entering the final period before losing 36-24, and Arizona, which led 25-13 before losing 35-32.

The Huskies also needed a 22-yard touchdown pass from Marques Tuiasosopo to Justin Robbins with 17 seconds left to beat Stanford 31-28.

'We look like Ding-Dong School sometimes the first eight, 10 minutes of the game,' offensive coordinator Keith Gilbertson said. 'Early on, don't judge us. We have a few laughs, then start playing.'

Tight end Jerramy Stevens said the Huskies have a refuse-to-lose attitude.

'You can just see it in all the guys' faces, we're not going to get beat,' he said. 'We hold four fingers in the air, `This is the fourth quarter, it's the last chance.''

Washington, 6-1-1 overall against Purdue, will be playing in its first Rose Bowl game in eight years and 14th overall. The Boilermakers will play in just their second - 34 years after Bob Griese guided them past Southern California 14-13.

Purdue will try to extend the Big Ten's Rose Bowl winning streak to five games and eight of nine.

'This is about us,' Gilbertson said. 'There hasn't been a lot of talk about carrying the (Pac-10) banner.'

Senior quarterbacks Tuiasosopo and Drew Brees of Purdue both will be playing their final college games.

Brees, who finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting, led the nation in total offense, passing for 3,393 yards and rushing for another 546. He was sacked only eight times.

'He's a great quarterback, one of the best,' Tuiasosopo said. 'He's brought his team back a lot this year.'

So has Tuiasosopo, who was eighth in the Heisman voting. He passed for 2,146 yards and rushed for another 394.

'Our plans are to contain (Tuiasosopo), not stop him,' Tiller said. 'I don't think you can stop this guy, he's too talented, too good of a runner. He's going to throw the ball some, too. He's going to make his yards.'

AP Sports Writer

2001 Fiesta Bowl Preview

TEMPE, Ariz. - Notre Dame IS college football - the Four Horsemen, Knute Rockne, the Gipper, classic autumn confrontations, and Touchdown Jesus looking on.

Oregon State's biggest claim to football fame is the longest string of losing seasons in NCAA Division I history, 28 years of rain-soaked misery that finally came to an end in 1999.

So Monday night's Fiesta Bowl is David vs. Goliath - except David is favored to win by three points.

Don't expect any humility from Oregon State in its second bowl appearance in 36 years. Tenth-ranked Notre Dame (9-2) is nothing more than a good team the No. 5 Beavers (10-1) expect to beat.

'We're not playing the name 'Notre Dame.' We're playing the football players that are on that football team, just players like anybody else,' Oregon State coach Dennis Erickson said. 'That's how our football team is approaching it.'

Ken Simonton, the 5-foot-7 second-team all-America tailback, said during the week that the New Orleans Saints couldn't stop the Beavers' wide-open offense.

Big-play wide receiver Chad Johnson said he doesn't think anybody can cover him one-on-one.

The confident talk has irritated some Notre Dame players.

'They are trying to get their name on a national stage,' wide receiver Joey Getherall said. 'We can't let that happen, not with the rich tradition Notre Dame has. We can't let a team come over and think they're going to step all over us.'

When the season began, Notre Dame was almost as much of a long shot to make a major bowl game as Oregon State was. After last season's 5-7 showing, coach Bob Davie was under heat.

He lost his starting quarterback, Arnaz Battle, and standout defensive lineman Brant Irons in the second game of the season, an overtime loss to Nebraska. Notre Dame started 2-2 and Davie seemed on his way out.

But the Irish came fighting back to go 7-0 with poised freshman quarterback Matt LoVecchio.

Even though they were ranked 11th in the Bowl Championship Series standings, the Irish were chosen by the Fiesta Bowl selection committee because of the program's national following.

Based on history, Notre Dame-Oregon State would seem a mismatch.

But Oregon State led the Pac-10 in total offense and defense. The Beavers' lone loss was 33-30 at Washington, a game Oregon State would have sent to overtime had Ryan Cesca not missed a 46-yard field goal with 14 seconds to play.

They've won six in a row since.

'The way I look at it, they're a team that's the Pac-10 co-champion, they're coached by a coach who's won national championships and has been an NFL coach, they're No. 1 in the Pac-10 in all of those statistics,' Davie said Sunday. 'You know they're fifth in the country. They're favored to win this game.

'To me it's kind of silly to say that Notre Dame would not take Oregon State seriously or give them the respect that they would give other teams. I mean, this is about survival for us.'

The biggest advantage for Oregon State is team speed, especially at wide receiver and on defense.

Notre Dame's best hope is to control the ball on offense. Davie said tailback Julius Jones, younger brother of Arizona Cardinals running back Thomas Jones, is as healthy as he's been in an injury-plagued season.

Oregon State's junior quarterback Jonathan Smith, just 5-foot-10, already is the school's No. 2 career passer. Simonton has run for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons.

Oregon State has 49 plays of 25 yards or more this season.

Erickson, who grew up in the Northwest, knows that just getting to this game was an achievement.

'There were times when you mentioned 'I played at Oregon State or I'm an Oregon State alumni,' they were crawling underneath a table,' Erickson said. 'Now they have a lot of pride in it. That's been created before we ever played this football game. The outcome of the game obviously is important ... but getting here is probably the most important thing.'

Not to Davie. The Irish have lost four consecutive bowl games, and their fans aren't pleased.

'We're proud as heck to be one of the eight BCS teams, but it does come down to winning,' he said. 'It's been a long time since we won a bowl game. What happens in the last game stays with you for such a long time that we need to win this game.'

AP Sports Writer

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