Auburn won't get half-a-loaf
Charles Prince, Sports Editor
After the final college football polls for the 1974 season were released, Oklahoma and USC shared the National Championship. The Trojans were voted the nations best team in the UPI poll, and the Sooners were voted the top team in the AP poll.
When Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer was asked how he felt about having to share the title, his reply was, "Half-a-loaf is better than none at all."
This season Auburn fans would be happy for half-a-loaf of the national title.
Tiger fans are hoping for a close game in the Orange Bowl between USC and Oklahoma, in addition to a Auburn blowout of Virginia Tech. Should those two things come to pass, the Tiger faithful are trusting the voters in the AP poll to award Auburn the title. The voters in the USA Today/ESPN poll, formerly the UPI poll, are obligated to name the winner of the Orange Bowl as its National Champion.
We'll look at whether the Tigers can grab part of the title, but first let's look at how the team from Tuscaloosa will do in their bowl game.
Music City Bowl
Minnesota (6-5) vs. Alabama (6-5)
The Crimson Tide face a Minnesota team, which runs the ball well, but just doesn't make many plays in the passing game. If the Alabama defense can stop the run and force the Golden Gophers to pass, they can win.
It will probably be a low-scoring game, but even with Spencer Pennington leading a meager passing attack, the Crimson Tide should score enough to get Mike Shula a seven-win season…Crimson Tide 17, Golden Gophers 10
Virginia Tech (10-2) vs. Auburn (12-0)
The Hokies come into New Orleans with an eight-game winning streak, including a win at Miami. Senior quarterback Bryan Randall is a good passer, but better runner, especially when he is flushed from the pass-pocket.
Randall's running will cause problems for an Auburn defense, which took advantage of several teams this season suffering with quarterback dilemmas. For example, LSU wasn't settled at quarterback. Coach Nick Saban was alternating two quarterbacks, neither of which played with confidence when Auburn whipped the Bengal Tigers. Then the Tigers recorded two wins over Tennessee, a team which used three quarterbacks this season. The only win Auburn posted this year against a team with a top-flight quarterback was Georgia. However, the Bulldogs David Green has no mobility and wasn't a threat to run.
The difference-maker in this match-up is Randall, a mobile quarterback, who can make things happen on the ground and in the air. Auburn hasn't faced a dual-threat quarterback this season of his skill…Hokies 24, Auburn Tigers 21
USC (12-0) vs. Oklahoma (12-0)
This will be the most revealing game of the bowl season. Most people in the South felt Auburn should have been ranked No. 2 behind USC and ahead of Oklahoma after the Tigers whipped Georgia down on the plains on Nov. 13.
Everyone who thought so will find out they couldn't have been more wrong.
USC began the season ranked No. 1 mostly because of the controversy of last season when the Trojans were left out of the Bowl Championship Series title game.
If you have seen them play, you should know they aren't the best team in the country. The Trojans took advantage of a weak PAC-10 conference, with the exception of California, to run up their 12 wins this season.
Take note of USC's performance against cross-town rival UCLA. They struggled to whip the Bruins, who lost to Wyoming in the Las Vegas Bowl.
On the other hand, a lot has been made of the Sooners surrendering 35 points in back-to-back weeks to Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. It should be noted those two teams which averaged over 30 points per game this season.
Yes, the Oklahoma pass defense was shaky those two weeks. But, it was due to injuries, not lack of talent in their secondary. Antonio Perkins was out for four games, including the Texas A&M and Oklahoma State games.
Perkins is the Sooners best cover-corner, having been named All-American last year as a junior, but now he's back and according to his coaches 100 percent healthy.
For anyone who assumed USC is the best team in the nation because they received the No. 1 ranking, the Orange Bowl will be an eye-opener…Sooners 31, Trojans 17