- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 5, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. Ken Dorsey sat crumpled in a corner of the Miami locker room. Instead of yet another crown, the Heisman finalist wore a towel over his head, leaving no doubt as to his assessment of his performance in Miami's stunning 31-24 loss to Ohio State in Friday's night's Fiesta Bowl.
Here was a player who had lost just twice in 40 career starts at Miami reduced to shame and anguish in his final hour as a Hurricane. Here was the leader of Miami's epic 34-game winning streak openly weeping after one of the greatest title games in college football history. Could Dorsey appreciate the unmatched theater provided by the first BCS game ever settled in overtime?
"Not now, probably not ever," Dorsey said quietly. "I still can't believe it ended like that."
Honestly, few can. If there is one criticism of Friday's finale at Sun Devil Stadium, it's that such an entertaining game and such an awesome Miami run had to end in such unfortunate fashion.
Why unfortunate? For several reasons.
First, the game-extending, first-overtime flag on Miami for pass interference was a questionable call on two counts. For one, the officials let both teams play all night. So why, on the game's most pivotal play, did they decide to step in and make a game-altering call?
"You just can't do that if you're an official," said Miami senior defensive end Jerome McDougle. "If a guy gets pulled down or hit early, that's one thing. But to call a guy for a little jostling on the most important play of the season is ridiculous. Hey, I'll be the first to say we shouldn't have been in that position, but, man, that was a tough way to lose it."
Not only was the call on Miami defensive back Glenn Sharpe extremely suspect, the flag didn't fly until nearly four seconds after the ball fell incomplete. The entire population of Coral Gables was on the field by the time the hanky hit the turf.
"He definitely hesitated," said Ohio State's Chris Gamble, the receiver supposedly held in the end zone on a fade-stop route with Ohio State trailing 24-17 in the first overtime. "I didn't think he was going to pull it out. I thought the game was over. Then hallelujah! out it came."
Predictably, Gamble agreed with the call, but he did admit, "They got their share of close ones, and we got ours."
Second, it was unfortunate that in the second overtime Miami had to take the field for its most important possession of the season without tailback Willis McGahee, arguably the team's most valuable player. Watching the sophomore's left knee defy the laws of physiology on a hit by Will Allen late in the fourth quarter was painful enough; it wasn't quite Tim Krumrie ghastly, but it was wince-worthy.
"Ghastly," however, was the best description for the Miami goal-line offense without McGahee. After Ohio State's Maurice Clarett scored for Ohio State in the second overtime, it would have been nice to see if McGahee could have answered. Instead, on first-and-goal from the Ohio State 2, Jarrett "Never Played" Payton and Quadtrine "Never Carried" Hill each rushed once for a total of one yard.
It's easy to argue that a healthy McGahee would have scored. Perhaps he wouldn't have, but in a game of this magnitude, at least he deserved a chance.
Finally, it was unfortunate that Dorsey saved his worst for last. He was intercepted twice, fumbled once and three times overthrew wide-open receivers for certain touchdowns.
The most glaring of those overthrows came on second-and-goal in the second overtime. Knowing Ohio State was keying on tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., Miami offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski called the perfect play for the situation, a play-action toss to rarely used, opposite-side tight end Eric Winston. The Buckeyes ignored Winston, and he sneaked uncovered into the right flat. But Dorsey chose that moment to throw a wide wobbler. It was his worst pass of the night.
"I didn't do my part, and that's the hardest thing to swallow," Dorsey said. "We turned it over five times. We didn't have that many once this season. But you have to give them credit, too. Ohio State played great defense."
Indeed they did. The Buckeyes held the nation's most balanced offense to 56 rushing yards and 17 points in regulation both season lows. Not that the Buckeyes did much with the ball. Clarett finished the game with just 47 yards rushing on 23 carries. And eventual offensive MVP Craig Krenzel had just five completions entering overtime.
You want a real MVP? How about the entire Ohio State defensive line, which kept steady pressure on Dorsey while snuffing the Miami running game?
Or maybe Ohio State punter Andy Groom? He flopped the field on Miami all night, averaging 47.7 yards on six punts.
Then there's Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, who found a way to steer his team to comeback victories in its last seven games. That stat isn't likely to be seen again from a championship team.
Or maybe just Fate, which has been wearing scarlet and gray all season long, won the trophy.
Perhaps Ohio State deserved to win the game based solely on the fact that it committed only two turnovers to Miami's five. And despite the game's somewhat frustrating finish, there's no denying an Ohio State victory was the best thing for college football.
For one thing, dynasties, by definition, can become tedious. The Buckeyes ear-holed Miami's aura of invincibility. For another, it's nice to see a school that has been such a staple of college football's upper echelon win its first title since 1968.
And finally, it's nice to see a team from the Big Ten, routinely criticized for its lack of team speed and offensive creativity, prove once again that the college football world hasn't left it behind.

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