2006 Sugar Bowl
|2006 Nokia Sugar Bowl|
|Date||January 2, 2006|
|MVP||West Virginia RB Steve Slaton|
|Referee||Jay Stricherz (Pac-10)|
|United States TV coverage|
|Announcers||Brad Nessler, Bob Griese and Lynn Swann|
The 2006 Nokia Sugar Bowl game was played on January 2, 2006, as part of the Bowl Championship Series. This 72nd edition of the Sugar Bowl featured the West Virginia Mountaineers, champions of the Big East, and the Southeastern Conference Champion Georgia Bulldogs. Double-digit underdog West Virginia's upset victory bolstered the Big East's profile in the wake of losing three members to the ACC, and likely preserved the conference's automatic inclusion in the BCS. The game was played in Atlanta, as its traditional site, the Louisiana Superdome, was unfit for use in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The freshmen-led West Virginia team stunned Georgia—playing in what amounted to a home game in the Georgia Dome—by opening a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. While West Virginia pushed the lead to 28-0 a minute into the second quarter, Georgia rallied to close the gap to 31-21 at halftime, behind quarterback D.J. Shockley. The 52 first-half points were a record for a single half in a BCS game.
In the third quarter, Georgia cut the lead to 31-28 following a 68-yard scoring drive.
Freshman quarterback Pat White led West Virginia on a 9-play, 95-yard drive to extend its lead to 38-28 with 8:32 remaining in the game. Georgia responded with a 90-yard drive of its own to cut the lead to 38-35 with 5:13 left.
With 1:26 remaining in the game and facing a 4th-and-6 near midfield, West Virginia's Phil Brady ran for 10 yards on a fake punt to seal the win. West Virginia's freshman running back Steve Slaton was named the game's MVP, having rushed for a Sugar Bowl-record 204 yards and 3 touchdowns, including two separate scores of 52-yards each. Fellow freshman Darius Reynaud, a wide receiver, scored the Mountaineers' other two touchdowns.
West Virginia capped off an 11-1 season ranked #5 in the nation, while Georgia fell to 10-3. The win was the first of four bowl victories for West Virginia QB Pat White.
As of the 2016 season, this is the most recent Sugar Bowl to host the actual SEC champion. The SEC champion would play in the BCS title game each of the following eight years and 2014-16 SEC champion Alabama has been in the College Football Playoff semifinal and final games each season since it came into existence. In most of these years, the Sugar Bowl has had to settle for a runner-up in the SEC.
- Bennett, Brian. "Big East players of the decade - College Football Nation Blog - ESPN". Espn.go.com. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
- ESPN - Longhorns, Trojans played in game for the ages - College Football