Every week this fall, the SI.com team delved into the fun, the weird and the wacky of college football with a series called Between the Hashes. It was a way to decompress from the madness of the games, and to find a few things you might have missed. Here are some of the best from the 2014 season.
Looking back on the 2014 season feels a bit strange. We have most of the picture, with bowl games still to come, and we have enough appreciation for what we saw to highlight some of the best moments of the past several months. The bowls are really a celebration of all the work it took to get here -- and for the four teams competing in the College Football Playoff, a chance to win the national title.
This year brought what we normally expect from a college football campaign: upsets, incredible performances, heartbreak, elation, broken records, mascots, live animals and things that made absolutely no sense. In fact, that's one of the most amazing aspects of this sport. You can watch it your entire life and you're still bound to see something you've never seen, whether it's a guy breaking the FBS single-game rushing record (and then having it broken a week later), or a punter doing the Bernie dance. All of it is college football. And college football is great.
Here are the Between the Hashes Awards, a bunch of completely made-up honors recapping the best, worst and weirdest from this fall.
The People Are Still Nice Award
It was a season to forget for both UMass and Vanderbilt, as the teams combined to go 6-18. But one thing stood out when they met on Sept. 13. The Minutemen had a chance to send the game to overtime with a 22-yard field goal in the waning moments. Should have been easy, right? This is college football. Nothing is easy. The kicker missed.
Still, everyone can relate to a college kicker missing a field goal. Vanderbilt went beyond good sportsmanship and gave the disappointed kicker a hug. I've probably watched this Vine a couple hundred times. It was a really touching gesture.
Photo of the Year
The Urban Meyer pizza picture is perfect. I wouldn't change a thing about it. The location. The context. The tiny Papa John's box. It's wonderful. You know Meyer has thought about it and his team has, too. It would be impossible not to.
So, when Ohio State finally got its redemption in the Big Ten championship game by crushing Wisconsin 59-0 and ultimately earning a trip to the playoff, it was only natural to take advantage of the situation. That's when linebacker Joe Burger swooped in, showed his creativity and captured the moment.
The Uga I – Uga VIII Memorial Mascot of the Year
If we're talking live mascots, there are lots of good ones from which to choose. Still, if we have to go with one, it's Tennessee's resilient and loveable Smokey. Remember when it was cold out during the Volunteers' 50-16 win over Kentucky on Nov. 15? Smokey dressed appropriately: with a blanket and a hat!
Celebration of the Year
Everybody loves Fat Guy Touchdowns. That's science. But Fat Guy Touchdowns partnered with arguably the best celebration of the season? Now that's too much. It might seem excessive, like adding bacon to a fried pork loin sandwich, but then you see it and know it was the right decision. So, thank you, Mercer and lineman Thomas Marchman, for giving us the one-two punch we never knew we needed.
Les Miles Honorary Coaching Decision of the Year
This wasn't a coach's call, but it was still eligible for this award and beat the other nominees by a mile. During the coin toss between Texas and UCLA, the Bruins won. They chose to defer. Standard operating procedure there. But after UCLA deferred, Texas elected to kick. That's fine, right? Plenty of teams prefer kicking to start a game, in order to get their defense on the field and build some momentum.
The only problem: Since UCLA deferred, the Bruins got to decide how to start the second half. Texas kicked off again. Coaches call these teachable moments.
The ref even turned the microphone off to explain to the Texas captain what he was doing. And they still chose to kick.— Bruin Report Online (@BruinReport) September 14, 2014
This Year In Made-Up Trophies
It seems like a new rivalry trophy pops up every year. In the case of Minnesota and Nebraska, there was a new one created. It wasn't the same as the others. The much-beloved @FauxPelini account started a conversation with Minnesota mascot Goldie the Gopher about the upcoming matchup between the Cornhuskers and the Gophers. The exchange was priceless, and a Bits of Wooden Chair Trophy was suggested. Everyone thought it would stop there. Then someone designed a model and Minnesota actually made it. The school went one step further and put it on the sidelines. A 28-24 victory was sweet for the Gophers, and the trophy was theirs.
The Found Poetry Awards
Inspiration is all around us. If you stop to engage with your surroundings, you'll be amazed what you find. Like two Arkansas State players standing next to each other with the names Clark and Griswold, prompting a desire to watch National Lampoon's Vacation series. Or four referees standing neatly in a line, somehow spelling out BRUH. The world is a beautiful place.
Videobomb of the Year
This was the easiest award of the season. It comes from the classic Thursday night game between Florida State and Louisville, in which the Seminoles engineered one of their patented 2014 comebacks in a 42-31 win. I still occasionally see this guy's eyebrows when I close my eyes.
Best Play (That Worked)
I'm convinced there was wizardry afoot in this Indiana State kick return. It's like the team used a Harry Potter summoning charm (accio football!). Regardless, the Sycamores trailed Missouri State 18-17 with about a minute to play on Nov. 1. Then they ran this and eventually got a game-winning field goal. Preparation, execution and a desired result.
Best Play (That Didn't Work)
You know where I'm going with this, don't you? Of course it's the Arkansas State "Fainting Goat Technique." SI.com talked with coach Blake Anderson the week after the play. He explained the hilarious attempt by Booker Mays.
"Luke Paschall is my special teams coordinator and he's like 'Well, what do you think? How about we just have him do the Fainting Goat when the snap starts instead of just standing there? We might as well have him do something. I said it sounds good. The kids will have a good time with it, and it might raise a few eyebrows on the defensive side. They might not know what to think of it. We showed Booker the video. He worked on it all week. We had a great time getting ready for it. That particular technique worked fine. We just did a poor job on the other side. We had a guy open, but we underthrew it and it got picked off."
The Sweet Treat Award
Easy call, here. Congratulations to Dilly Bar Dan, who braved the elements when Minnesota hosted Ohio State on Nov. 15 to enjoy his favorite post-halftime snack. Dan Lehman, a Minnesota staffer, was interviewed by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett and delivered one of the quotes of the year to go with it. "It's never too cold for a Dilly Bar. That's just one of those things that I'll enjoy whenever they give it to me."
Most Memorable Drive Chart
Quote of the Year
There were a ton of deserving candidates, but one quote stuck out from the rest. After Arkansas successfully executed a Fat Guy Touchdown (PASS!) from guard Sebastian Tretola to Alan D'Appollonio on Oct. 25, Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema had this to say in his halftime interview:
Bielema in halftime interview: "Coming to Arkansas, if you're an o-lineman, we'll make you famous."— Adam Alter (@Adam_Alter) October 25, 2014
The Ricky Dobbs All-Stars
Each week we highlighted some of the best stat lines in honor of former Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs. Here are some players who made the list pretty frequently in 2014, along with their season stats.
• Oregon QB Marcus Mariota: 3,783 passing yards, 38 passing touchdowns, 2 interceptions; 669 rushing yards, 14 rushing touchdowns
• Western Kentucky QB Brandon Doughty: 4,344 passing yards, 44 passing touchdowns, 10 interceptions
• East Carolina QB Shane Carden: 4,309 passing yards, 28 passing touchdowns, 8 interceptions; 6 rushing touchdowns
• TCU QB Trevone Boykin: 3,714 passing yards, 30 passing touchdowns, 7 interceptions; 642 rushing yards, 8 rushing touchdowns
• Marshall QB Rakeem Cato: 3,622 passing yards, 37 passing touchdowns, 13 interceptions; 457 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns
• Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett: 2,834 passing yards, 34 passing touchdowns, 10 interceptions; 938 rushing yards, 11 rushing touchdowns
• Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott: 2,996 passing yards, 24 passing touchdowns, 10 interceptions; 939 rushing yards, 13 rushing touchdowns
• Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon: 2,336 rushing yards, 26 rushing touchdowns; 151 receiving yards, 3 receiving touchdowns
• Indiana RB Tevin Coleman: 2,036 rushing yards, 15 rushing touchdowns
• Boise State RB Jay Ajayi: 1,689 rushing yards, 25 rushing touchdowns; 45 catches, 536 receiving yards, 4 receiving touchdowns
• Pittsburgh RB James Conner: 1,675 rushing yards, 24 rushing touchdowns
• Oklahoma RB Samaje Perine: 1,579 rushing yards, 21 rushing touchdowns
• Alabama WR Amari Cooper: 115 catches, 1,656 receiving yards, 14 receiving touchdowns
• Colorado State WR Rashard Higgins: 89 catches, 1,640 receiving yards, 17 receiving touchdowns
• Kansas State WR Tyler Lockett: 93 catches, 1,351 receiving yards, 9 receiving touchdowns; 679 total return yards, 2 punt return touchdowns
• West Virginia WR Kevin White: 102 catches, 1,318 receiving yards, 9 receiving touchdowns
• USC WR Nelson Agholor: 97 catches, 1,223 receiving yards, 11 receiving touchdowns; 2 punt return touchdowns