Another Heisman winner comes up short in final game




 
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Another Heisman winner comes up short in final game
 
January 9th, 2007  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Another Heisman winner comes up short in final game


Another Heisman winner comes up short in final game

RUSTY MILLER
Associated Press

GLENDALE, Ariz. - Win the Heisman, lose the national championship. A cruel cycle even Troy Smith couldn't break.
The Ohio State quarterback became the latest winner of college football's most prestigious award to fail in his next and biggest game. With Smith playing the worst game of his career, the top-ranked Buckeyes were beaten 41-14 by Florida on Monday night.
Smith was sacked more times than he completed passes.
"My seniors, I want to apologize to them because I wasn't able to send them out on the right note," Smith said. "I think I could have played better."
That's an understatement. He completed only 4-of-14 passes, lost one fumble, threw an interception and almost lost another muffed snap.
The strong-armed senior from Cleveland came in completing 67 percent of his passes. He had thrown a school-record 30 touchdown passes with only five interceptions - and three of those were off receivers' hands.
Yet he never found his rhythm and never got a chance while being harassed all night by Florida defensive ends Jarvis Moss and Derrick Harvey. Moss sacked Smith twice while Harvey had three sacks.
"They looked fast on film and they proved to be as fast as they looked," center Doug Datish said.
Coach Jim Tressel said it wasn't fair to put the burden for the loss on Smith's shoulders.
"It was a combined effort, starting with the coaches," he said.
Of the last six Heisman Trophy winners to play for a national championship that same season, only one - Southern California's Matt Leinart in 2004 - won the title game.
Most had good numbers. Some did not bear any of the blame for the loss. But they still lost.
Whether it's the increased attention of defenses, the added pressure or the grind of photo ops and interviews after capturing the award - or maybe all of those reasons - it's almost as if the winner is carrying that heavy bronze statue around on his back during the title game.
Until now, Smith had his biggest games when the spotlight was shining brightest against the best opponents. But Monday he appeared out of synch all night.
The Buckeyes - who had scored at least 40 points in four of their last five games - ran three plays and punted the ball away on their first possession.
The second time the offense had the ball, Smith looped a pass into the left flat that was between receivers, with Florida cornerback Reggie Lewis making a diving interception at his own 29.
The Gators ate up the 71 yards in 10 plays, with tailback DeShawn Wynn scoring on a 2-yard run on the first play of the second quarter for a 21-7 lead.
Late in the first half, Smith nearly lost a fumbled snap on a critical third-and-1 play. That led to a Gators field goal and on the next Ohio State possession, Smith fumbled when Moss sacked him. Harvey recovered at the Buckeyes 5.
A few plays later it was 34-14 Florida, and Ohio State never threatened again.
"As the quarterback I am the one guy out there who can pretty much control everything," Smith said. "Florida did some great things defensively, but nothing we couldn't have handled. I take all the blame for that."
Not all of the recent Heisman winners have had bad games in losing in the title game.
USC's Reggie Bush played well a year ago, but USC lost to Texas. Oklahoma quarterback Jason White was ineffective against LSU in the 2003 title game. Nebraska's Eric Crouch had an OK day as Nebraska was routed by Miami in the 2001 national championship game. Florida State's Chris Weinke didn't throw a TD pass as his team lost the 2000 title to Oklahoma.
Florida coach Urban Meyer said in the weeks leading up to the game against Ohio State that Smith would likely draw extra attention from his defense. He was right.
As disappointed as he was, Smith stayed composed as he put the lopsided loss in perspective.
"If this is the worst thing that happens in life to us," he said, "we're pretty cool."
 


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