THE CLASS OF '98
Our picks for the best and worst from a most unpredictable season
Most Valuable Player
The Heisman goes to the most outstanding player, not necessarily
the most valuable one, and so it was only fitting that Texas
running back Ricky Williams was handed the trophy last Saturday.
Perhaps there should also be an award for
less-than-Heisman-caliber players who stand between their teams
and a poor record. This year's most deserving candidates:
1. Jarious Jackson, Notre Dame. The senior quarterback got hurt
on the last play of his team's 10th game. The next week, without
him, the Irish lost 10-0 to USC and failed to secure a $12
million bowl berth.
December 21, 1998
2. Torry Holt, North Carolina State. The Wolfpack beat Florida
State and Syracuse thanks to the senior wide receiver, who
caught 15 passes for 267 yards in the two games. Without those
wins North Carolina State wouldn't have qualified for a bowl game.
3. Joe Hamilton, Georgia Tech. Despite a sprained right knee
that limited his effectiveness, the junior quarterback led a
21-point comeback against Virginia. He also kept the Yellow
Jackets competitive with Florida State until a bruised left hip
forced him out in the third quarter. Georgia Tech, 9-2, shared
the ACC title and has won 12 of its last 16 games.
Did the Most With the Least
1. Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin. How to go to the Rose Bowl: Pound
Ron Dayne into the line, play defense, control the clock, avoid
2. Tommy Bowden, Tulane. Two years removed from 2-9, the Green
Wave went 11-0, all but one win by at least a 10-point margin.
Bowden removed himself to Clemson.
3. Mike DuBose, Alabama. With a freshman quarterback and with no
depth as a result of a three-year NCAA probation, the Crimson
Tide, who will be able to offer the maximum 25 scholarships in
1999, cobbled together a 7-4 record.
Did the Least With the Most
1. Gerry DiNardo, LSU. With four-year starter Herb Tyler at
quarterback and future NFL draft choice Kevin Faulk at tailback,
the Tigers finished 4-7.
2. Nick Saban, Michigan State. How does a team that beat Notre
Dame 45-23 and came back from 15 points down to win at Ohio
State end up at 6-6?
3. Bruce Snyder, Arizona State. The Sun Devils, 5-6, never got
over the fourth-down, last-minute, 63-yard game-winning
touchdown pass they gave up to Washington in the season opener.
Savoring Freshman Ryan
Memphis redshirt freshman Ryan White made all 16 of his field
goal attempts this season. Dating back to his sophomore year at
Shiloh High in Lilburn, Ga., he has hit 28 straight field goals
from 40 yards or closer.
Savaging Freshman Ryan
On Oct. 24, with Utah and San Diego State tied 14-14 and 15
seconds left, Utes freshman walk-on Ryan Kaneshiro missed a
35-yard field goal. He then missed an extra point in overtime,
and Utah lost 21-20. Against BYU four weeks later, the Utes
trailed 26-24 when Kaneshiro's 32-yard field goal attempt with
five seconds remaining hit the right upright and fell away.
If Kaneshiro had delivered in those two games, Utah would have
played Air Force for the WAC championship on Dec. 5 and been
virtually assured of a bowl bid. Instead, the Utes' season is
--Las Vegas Bowl
San Diego State (7-4) vs. North Carolina (6-5)
Both schools rebounded after starting the season 0-3, but the
Tar Heels, who lost to uglier opponents (the Aztecs were
defeated only by bowl teams), have no business being in this
game when Miami of Ohio, which went 10-1 and beat North Carolina
to open the season, is staying home. The Aztecs win one for the
Colorado (7-4) vs. Oregon (8-3)
The Buffaloes may be the best four-loss team in the country.
Injuries knocked both teams back a notch this season, but
Colorado quarterback Mike Moschetti's broken ribs should heal in
time. He'll steal the show on Christmas Day in the opener of the
first bowl doubleheader in history.
Air Force (11-1) vs. Washington (6-5)
In the second game the Falcons will give the Colorado schools a
sweep. The Huskies are more athletic, but Air Force plays
defense and knows how to win close games.
West Virginia (8-3) vs. Missouri (7-4)
Can Mountaineers quarterback Marc Bulger continue the best
season (3,178 yards passing and 27 touchdowns) no one knows
about? Can the Tigers do more than almost beat a good team? Yes
and yes. Missouri wins a close one on Dec. 26.
Quote of the Year
"The only thing that can stop us is ourselves. It would be
stupid for me to sit here and say other teams can stop us."
--Joe Montgomery, Ohio State tailback, after the Buckeyes beat
Missouri 35-14 on Sept. 19. Seven weeks later Ohio State blew a
15-point lead and lost 28-24 to Michigan State.