Deciding college football's national champion comes down to simple arithmetic for Georgia Tech's Shawn Jones.
"They have one loss, we don't have any," Jones said Tuesday night after watching top-ranked Colorado (11-1-1) edge No. 5 Notre Dame 10-9 in the Orange Bowl.It was earlier in the day that the second-ranked Yellow Jackets made their case for a No. 1 finish, demolishing No. 19 Nebraska 45-21 behind the sparkling play of Jones, who accounted for 318 yards and three touchdowns.
"I think we should be No. 1," Jones said. "We're undefeated."
Tech (11-0-1) completed the season as the only unbeaten major team and extended its unbeaten streak to 16 games - longest in the nation.
"I don't think they deserve to be No. 1," receiver Bobby Rodriguez said of Colorado.
"They lost to Illinois and Illinois got annihilated by Clemson and we beat Clemson," Rodriguez said.
He said there would be controversy no matter which team finishes No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll today, "but not on Georgia Tech's shoulder. We did what we had to do."
Coach Bobby Ross said he saw very little of the Colorado-Notre Dame game, but he did see Raghib "Rocket" Ismail's nullified punt return for a touchdown in the final minute called back for a clipping penalty.
"I thought we had it," Ross said by telephone from his father's apartment in Williamsburg, Va.
Ross left Orlando immediately after the Citrus victory to be with his mother, Martha, who is in a coma after suffering her second stroke.
"I don't know what's going to happen," Ross said. "I'm not going to wave a flag for it. I do feel like we deserve it because of our won-loss record.
"We've always been kind of knocked because of our schedule, but I think the ACC was kind of vindicated in the bowl situation," he said.
Tech, the Atlantic Coast Conference champion, and fellow ACC members North Carolina State and Clemson won their bowls. Maryland played to a tie and Virginia lost to Tennessee in the final minute of the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday night.
"All but two teams we played had winning records," Ross said. "I don't know what else we can do."
A group of Tech players watched the Orange Bowl together.
Defensive back Willie Clay said they "blew the top off the Peabody (Hotel)" when Ismail returned the punt against the Buffaloes, and then began groaning when it was called back.
"I feel like there's no way that people can deny us and say that we're not the No. 1 team in the country," All-American safety Ken Swilling said after Tech's victory.
Ross, who had downplayed Tech's bid for its first national crown until the season was over, said his team deserved the title before leaving Orlando.
"We should be No. 1," he said. "I feel that we deserve it right now. We're the only undefeated football team in the country and I think we won well. I don't thing we looked sloppy."
The Jackets got after the Cornhuskers from the start, moving 70 yards on nine plays with the opening kickoff to score on Stefen Scotton's 2-yard run after 3:15 had elapsed.
Jones had a 46-yard run in that drive, and came back to give Tech a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter by throwing touchdowns passes of 22 yards to Emmett Merchant and 2 yards to William Bell.
At that time, the Huskers had netted one first down and 37 yards.
Nebraska (9-3) began a rally after a 3-yard loss on the first play of a 71-yard scoring drive that took four plays and ended on Tom Haase's 30-yard pass to Johnny Mitchell.
A Tech fumble enabled the Huskers to score again, 1:14 later on Derek Brown's 50-yard run.
After Scott Sisson kicked a 27-yard field goal in the final two minutes of the first half and Jones capped a 78-yard third-quarter drive on a 1-yard run, Tech was never in serious trouble.
The Huskers, who lost their fourth bowl game in a row, cut the lead to 31-21 on Haase's 21-yard pass to William Washington with 30 seconds left in the third. But Bell put the game on ice for the Jackets with touchdown runs of 6 and 57 yards in the fourth quarter.