LSU Bowl Games

2005 Capital One Bowl

Tiger fans were excited when Nick Saban's 9-2, #12-ranked LSU squad was invited to play New Year's Day in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando against the Iowa Hawkeyes, also 9-2 and ranked #11. But a Christmas announcement would dampen the enthusiasm.

LSU's Season

  • With fan anticipation at an all-time high after the Tigers won the 2003 BCS Championship, LSU was fortunate to win its opener against Oregon State 22-21 because the Beaver kicker missed two EPs. Also, a theme for the season started immediately as neither Marcus Randall nor JaMarcus Russell could play consistently enough to keep the starting QB spot for the rest of the season.
  • The Tigers lost on the road to an Auburn team that would go unbeaten.
  • Georgia got revenge in spades for the two defeats the Tigers hung on them in '03.
  • The next week, Randall came off the bench to lead a 24-21 comeback win at Florida. That started a six-game winning streak to end the regular season.

    25 Tigers on the '04 team would play in the NFL.

LSU QB Marcus Randall
Marcus Randall

LSU QB JaMarcus Russell
JaMarcus Russell

Oklahoma State Coach Les Miles
Les Miles

LSU O-coordinator Jimbo Fisher
Jimbo Fisher

2005 Capital One Bowl Program


LSU 2004
Oregon State
Arkansas State
Mississippi State
Alabama 26-10
Ole Miss
LSU Coach Nick Saban
Nick Saban
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz
Kurt Ferentz
Iowa 2004
Kent State
Iowa State
@Arizona State
Michigan State 38-16
Ohio State 33-7
@Penn State 6-4
@Illinois 23-13
Purdue 23-21
@Minnesota 29-27
Wisconsin 30-7

The Opponent

  • Kirk Ferentz's Hawkeyes did the Tigers one better by winning their last seven outings after suffering a humiliating early loss to Arizona State.
  • It was amazing that Iowa did so well in the Big Ten (7-1) considering their woeful running game that averaged only 74.9 ypg. This put them last not only in the conference but also in the entire nation.
  • A big mitigating factor in the rushing performance was the loss of four RBs to season-ending injuries. Sam Brownlee led the team with only 216y.
  • Iowa ranked 41st in passing offense with 235.8 ypg behind sophomore QB Drew Tate.
  • His team's performance as co-Big Ten champions earned Ferentz the Big Ten Coach of the Year award.

The opposing coaches had served on the same NFL staff.

  • Saban and Ferentz assisted Bill Belichick with the Cleveland Browns in 1993 and 1994. Nick coached the defensive backs while Kirk handled the O line. The Browns made the playoffs in '94 behind the best D in the NFL.
  • Saban took the head coaching job at Michigan State in 1995 before coming to Baton Rouge four years later.
  • After a stint with the Baltimore Ravens, Ferentz became Iowa's coach in 1999. His first Hawkeye team lost to Saban's Spartans 49-3. Thank goodness he is a friend of mind, said Kirk. Because it could have been worse.
  • Belichick, now coach of the New England Patriots, praised his proteges. They're very smart. They're both well-organized. ... They don't get distracted by a lot of stuff. They understand the big picture.

The focus on the Capital One Bowl changed Christmas day.

  • Confirming rumors that had been flying, Saban announced that he was leaving LSU to coach the Miami Dolphins. His salary would be $5 million in a state with no income tax.
  • Discussion of Saban's successor crowded out the bowl game. Bobby Petrino (Louisville), Houston Nutt (Arkansas), Jack Del Rio (Jacksonville Jaguars), Butch Davis (Cleveland Browns), and even Ferentz were mentioned as possibilities, but by New Year's Day the consensus came down to Les Miles of Oklahoma State after Petrino took his name out of contention.
  • Nick refused to be sucked into the discussion other than to offer this: I don't want to see somebody come in here and not continue it in a positive way. ... If the politics of this institution come into play in making a decision about who the next coach is going to be, I would not think that would be in the best interest of the future.
  • AD Skip Bertman insisted that he would make the final decision after receiving the recommendation of the selection committee.
  • Saban said there was never any discussion about letting someone else coach the bowl game. Since the NFL season hadn't ended, Nick didn't need to start his tenure with the Dolphins right away as he would if he were going to another college, where he would need to start recruiting for 2005.
  • Nick: I wanted to do it (coach the bowl game) out of respect for the players. I'm happy that I did do it, and I certainly want to do a great job for these guys on our team that have been the reason that we've had so much success ... This is their reward for having a great season. ... I'm pleased with how the staff has tried to hang in there, but I think uncertainty affects a lot of things ...
  • The LSU players wanted to send their coach off with a victory. Senior DE Marcus Spears: Everybody was still focused and said, "Let's win this one for coach, the last one, and also for the seniors," and I think everyone's committed to that.
  • Saban chose Randall to start in Orlando based on his "fantastic game" at Arkansas (10/14, 173y, 2 TD, 0 INT) to end the regular season.
  • Regardless of the QB starter, Iowa D-coordinator Norm Parker, who served under Saban at Michigan State, thought stopping Jimbo Fisher's offense would be a challenge. They do a lot of the same things from different formations. ... The QBs are different, but they're both good in their own way; so it's like defending two different guys.
The Game

70,229 saw JaMarcus Russell lead a comeback destined to live forever in the annals of LSU football until a miracle finish propelled the contest into Iowa's hall of memories.

First Quarter

  • With both teams having played their last game over a month earlier, it was understandable if they started sloppy, especially on offense.
    But the Hawkeyes showed no signs of rust as they took the kickoff and drove 69y. They scored on their sixth snap by burning a blitz. Clinton Solomon caught a short pass over the middle, shook off a defender, and sprinted to the EZ for a 57y score. The TD was the longest against the Tigers all season.
    LSU did start slowly, gaining a net of only 22y on their first two possessions. To make matters worse, Ryan Majerus blocked Chris Jackson's second punt to give the Hawks the ball on the LSU 27. Ryan explained: I was begging coach on the sidelines to let me try to block one. Three guys up front cleared out a hole for me, and I basically went in untouched. I knew before the play started that I'd be able to block it. Untouched. Unbelievable.
    But Melvin Oliver intercepted a screen pass on the first snap and rumbled to the Iowa 31. It was the first INT of Oliver's career and made him the eighth Tiger to snare an INT on the season.
    But three plays netted -10; so Jackson punted into the EZ.
    After Iowa gained 19y, Tate, under duress, threw another pick, this one by a diving Laron Landry on the 31 with 1:46 left in the period. It was the safety's fourth INT of the season. LSU moved to the 12 as the quarter ended.

Second Quarter

  • Jackson kicked a FG nine seconds into Q2.
    The Tigers sacked Tate twice in a row, one by LB Kenny Hollis, the other by DT Claude Wroten, to force a three-and-out.
    The Bayou Bengals gained great field position when Skylar Green returned the punt 16y to the Iowa 29. But seven plays later, the Tigers had to settle for another Jackson FG, this one 47y with 9:26 on the clock.
    The teams then exchanged punts twice, and it looked like Iowa would take a 7-6 lead into halftime despite gaining only three first downs.
    But the Hawkeyes scored with 64 seconds left thanks to a special teams play. Miguel Merrick blocked Jackson's punt, and Sean Considine scooped the ball at the 7 and ran into the EZ.
    But the scoring still wasn't finished. After the kickoff was returned to the 26, redshirt freshman Matt Flynn took over at QB becauseLB Abdul Hodge had banged up Randall's ribs on a crushing sack. Matt was third-string all season but moved up the depth chart during the 14 days of pre-bowl workouts.
    Flynn took his first snap and handed to RB Alley Broussard, who swept right, cut back, zig-zagged until he sprung loose down the right sideline to the EZ to complete LSU's longest play of the season. Jackson's PAT try went awry to make the score 14-12 at the break.
    HALFTIME SCORE: Iowa 14 LSU 12

Third Quarter

  • LSU received the kickoff but, after gaining 34y with two completions, Randall threw an INT to CB Jovon Johnson, who returned 7y to the Iowa 38. Marcus didn't take another snap. Saban: Marcus convinced me he could play. The other guys out there thought he was really hurting.
    Using more rollouts and screen passes to blunt the LSU rush, Tate completed five of his first six passes to lead the Hawkeyes 60y in 12 plays to set up Kyle Schlicher's 19y FG to make it 17-12 with 9:59 left.
    Green returned the kickoff 58y to the Iowa 26. But after three plays failed to gain a first down, LSU lined up for a FG. Holder Flynn took the snap and ran up the middle only to be stopped a yard short.
    After an exchange of punts, the Hawkeyes took possession on their 28.
    Take away Broussard's run, and LSU's other 47 offensive plays in the first three periods averaged just 2.5y.

Fourth Quarter

  • Iowa took a commanding 24-12 lead at the 9:59 mark on Marques Simmons' 4y run off LT to end the 10-play 72y march. Tate hit three-of-four during the advance, including 20 and 21-yarders to TE Scott Chandler.
    With Flynn struggling (1-of-4 for 11y and a 14y sack), JaMarcus Russell came off the bench to drive the Tigers 74y in 11 plays. He completed 5-of-7 passes, the last a picture-perfect 22y throw to Green on a skinny post pattern. The PAT made it 24-19.
    The Tigers forced a punt after allowing one first down to get the ball back at their 31 at the 5:06 mark.
    Russell found Green again with back-to-back hookups for 9 and 10y to move the ball to midfield. The drive nearly ended when Early Doucet came up a foot short on a 3rd-and-6 pass. But Broussard slashed 8y to gain the first down at the 32. Russell then hit Dwayne Bowe for 18, scrambled for 4y, then dumped a pass over the middle to RB Joseph Addai to convert a 3rd-and-6 by 1y. After spiking the ball on first-and-goal at the 3, Russell fired a laser that Green yanked down on a slant pattern before going out the back of the EZ for a 25-24 lead with just 46 seconds to go. LSU fans rejoiced over one of the greatest Q4 rallies in school history. But not so fast, my friend. The two-point conversion attempt failed.
    Walter Belleus returned the kickoff 26y to the 29 with 0:46. Tate had two timeouts to work with as he tried to march the Hawkeyes into FG range.
    He hit Ed Hinkel for 11, and Warren Holloway for 9. After the second completion, the Hawkeyes hurried to the line of scrimmage, and Tate spiked the ball. However, the referee ruled that they hadn't waited until he marked the ball ready for play. So a 5y penalty was marched off back to the 44.
    Ferentz, thinking the clock would not start until the next snap, failed to call a timeout. Tate and his offense huddled, not realizing the clock was running. Referee Hal Dowden stuck his head in to remind them the clock was moving.
    Tate called "all up," meaning the four receivers run vertical routes down the field. Here's the transcript of the Iowa radio broadcast at this point:
    They wind the clock. 9 seconds to play, and Drew Tate doesn't know that. The game is going to end on this play. He fires downfield. It's caught. And into the end zone! Touchdown Iowa! Touchdown Iowa! No time on the clock! I don't believe what I just saw!
    Video of winning TD with Iowa radio broadcast audio
    Tate took the snap. He faded back but, seeing his first two options (Solomon and Chandler) covered and getting no pressure from the six-man rush, threw the ball down the right seam to Holloway, a fifth-year senior who had never scored a college TD. Wide open because DB Ronnie Prude, thinking LSU was in a zone when man-to-man had been called, moved up to cover Chandler from the slot, Holloway snagged the ball in stride at the 10, escaped S Travis Daniels' arm tackle, and dashed into the EZ as time expired.
    Holloway recalled the winning TD for an article in Athlon Sports' 2018 College Football Preview. As the Hawkeyes broke the huddle, they realized the defense was confused. The defender who lined up on Holloway allowed him to run by, but the S picked up the TE. That meant Holloway was sprinting uncovered toward the EZ. I knew I was open at that point. But the play was supposed to go to the other side of the field. I guess that guy just wasn't as open as me.
    Warren looked back to see the ball sailing in his direction, but it was drifting so far to his right that he didn't think he could catch it. I honestly didn't think he was throwing it to me. But he ran toward the ball since it was the last play, and he wanted to be in position if the ball were tipped. Somebody in an Iowa jersey has to catch this ball, he thought. But the ball seemed to hang up right over his head. He caught it, bounced off a defender, and instinctively put his hands over the ball, in case someone tried to jar it loose. The last 15 yards felt like three steps, he says. I hadn't seen that much green grass since high school. He realized immediately that he had completed a play that would be talked about for years to come. He ended up under a dogpile of dozens of teammates.

Clinton Solomon scores first TD for Iowa.
Clint Solomon scores the first TD for Iowa.

LSU K Chris Jackson
Chris Jackson

LSU T Melvin Oliver
Melvin Oliver

LSU QB Matt Flynn
Matt Flynn

LSU RB Alley Broussard
Alley Broussard

Drew Tate runs downfield after completing winning pass.
Drew Tate runs downfield after completing winning pass.

Winning TD Pass - 1Winning TD pass - 2Winning TD pass - 3
Shots of the winning TD pass.
Holloway escapes Daniels' tackle.LSU sideline reacts to winning score.
L: Warren Holloway escapes Travis Daniels' tackle. R: LSU sideline reacts to winning score.

Tate Hugs HollowayHawkeyes celebrate with Capital One Bowl trophy
L: Tate hugs Holloway after winning TD; R: Hawkeyes celebrate with Capital One Bowl trophy.
Nick Saban leaves field after 2005 Capital One Bowl.
Saban leaves field as LSU coach for last time.

A senior, Holloway had 32 catches and zero TDs before the game winner. It became a running joke in the family. Every game it was, "When are you going to get one?" he recalled years later. My family was like, "It's your last game, last chance to get a touchdown."
  • LSU had won 38 consecutive games when scoring more than 24 points, a streak that started before Saban arrived.
  • The Tigers recorded at least one sack for the 37th straight contest.
  • WR Craig Davis's Q1 catch completed his streak of catching at least one pass in every game of the '04 season.


  • Saban finished his LSU tenure with a 48-16 record. You always dislike losing a game, especially losing a game like this. The last 14 or 20 seconds of this game somewhat tarnish the things that this team has accomplished in its four years. I only feel badly that I could not do more to help the players play better. ... I'm very proud of our players for the way they fought back in the game. ... Mental errors are a terrible way to lose, because that means the other guy didn't really physically beat you. You really beat yourself. ... We just didn't do as good a job on defense. I just didn't think we played with the same kind of intensity. Their QB did a good job. They started moving the pocket almost all the time to move away from our pressure ... That was kind of a new little wrinkle coming out of halftime. We had a couple of opportunities to make plays in the second half which we didn't. We had a couple of third-down situations which we didn't get out of, so I think that was really the difference.
    On his LSU experience: This has probably been the best experience I've ever had as a coach - the five years I spent at LSU. Call them golden years or whatever for me. I hope they were good years for everyone else.
  • LSU CB Corey Webster on the coverage mixup: The offense was rushing to the line of scrimmage right as we got the call in from the sideline, and somehow the guy ended up running free down the middle of the field. We had one guy come up to blitz instead of cover, and that left the rest of us scrambling around to get in position.
  • LSU DT Kyle Williams: The offense gave us the opportunity to win the ballgame, and we blew it. When you get a lead that late in the game, the defense has to stand up and protect it.
  • Spears refused to pin the loss on the distraction of the coach departing. You couldn't tell he was going on to the new job. He was the first to arrive for meetings and the last to leave.
  • Ferentz: I don't know if you could write a better script. Nobody would believe it if you did. ... We were playing for a FG, needless to say. But nobody is complaining about the way it turned out. Concerning the clock mismanagement at the end: I blew it not taking the timeout there. I didn't realize that after a penalty, they start the clock. It was my fault. On his team: The resiliency these guys have shown. It's hard to put into words. For this thing to end the way it did is probably pretty fitting.
  • Holloway: It really hasn't hit me yet. Maybe in a month or so. This is a dream. ... Clint [Solomon] was supposed to get the ball. He thought not calling timeout before the last play ended up helping the Hawkeyes. We lined up fast. It looked like they were running out to cover three, but the guy didn't get out there fast enough over me. When we hiked the ball, I took advantage and we scored.
  • Tate, who shrugged off a slow start to end with 287y passing (20-of-32) and earn the MVP award, on the final play: That probably was the most time I had to throw all day. I thought I overthrew him. Once Warren caught it, he wasn't going down. We ended up with an ESPN Classic.
  • Hinkel on the winning play: We ran that play six times today, I think. That was the first time it went Warren's way.
  • Iowa DT Jonathan Babineaux on his view of the final play from the sidelines: I wondered why we weren't calling a timeout when the clock was running out. I was like - uh - does anyone see the clock running? He added: What that lead did was make us all step it up a notch. Maybe some of our great fans in the stands thought the game was over, but we didn't.
  • DB Johnson on Russell: He had a game. I think if they might've gone to him earlier, they might've been in better shape at the end. But we'll never know that now, will we?
25 Tigers on the 2004 team played pro football: RB Joseph Addai, WR Dwayne Bowe, DB Travis Daniels, WR Craig Davis, DL Glenn Dorsey, WR Early Doucet, QB Matt Flynn, WR Skyler Green, RB Jacob Hester, LB Ali Highsmith, DB Chevis Jackson, DB LaRon Landry, OL Nate Livings, OL Rudy Niswanger, DL Melvin Oliver, DB Ronnie Prude, QB Marcus Randall, QB JaMarcus Russell, DL Marcus Spears, DB Corey Webster, OL Andrew Whitworth, OL Ben Wilkerson, DT Kyle Williams, DL Claude Wroten, TE Keith Zinger


Video Highlights of 2005 Capital One Bowl
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