You're a champion now, Jameis. It's OK. Let it all out. (Harry How/Getty Images)
It's the end of the BCS. Let's take a second to remember the good, the bad and the only in college football moments from the last 16 seasons. Pasadena delivered an unforgettable sendoff on Monday night, with Florida State edging Auburn 34-31 in a thrilling game that came down to the final seconds. With a slow burn through the first three quarters, this contest had a spacey feel to it. Then the beat dropped and all the beeps and bloops came raining down so fast that fans barely had time to keep up.
Here are a few awards and thoughts from Monday's wonderful game. Don't come down from that high too quickly. The crushing depths of the offseason will hit us all soon enough.
Stat of the night
14-0: That was the record of teams leading at the half in BCS championship games coming into Monday night's showdown. The Tigers led 21-10 at intermission, and the Seminoles appeared overmatched and confused. Things changed after the break, however, as Florida State chipped away bit by bit, slicing the score to 21-20 before Auburn kicked a 22-yard field goal with 4:42 remaining in the fourth quarter. Then madness ensued. Levonte (Kermit) Whitfield broke free for a 100-yard kick-return touchdown to put the Seminoles up 27-24, and then Tigers running back Tre Mason scampered for a 37-yard score that temporarily looked like the game-winner.
It wasn't. Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston hit wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin from two yards out with 13 seconds to play, and the above stat went from 14-0 to 14-1.
Play of the game
Winston's game-winning touchdown pass narrowly beat out Whitfield's thrilling return and Mason's impressive touchdown run. Three plays in rapid succession, like some sort of Wagner-orchestrated crescendo.
Play of the game (Part deux)
Shout out to the special teamers. How important were the punts in Monday night's game? An Auburn punt pinned the Seminoles at their own two-yard line in the first quarter. A poor Florida State punt led to the Tigers' first touchdown of the game. A successful fake punt gave Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher and his team new life late in the first half.
Auburn fumbled three kicks or punts and somehow recovered them all. Then, of course, there was Whitfield's return, which reinvigorated Florida State, giving the Seminoles their first lead since 3-0 in the first quarter.
Kicking matters. Kicking is back en vogue. Wear it with pride and confidence.
The Dante from Clerks award
Remember in Space Jam where the Danny DeVito alien tells Michael Jordan that he’s going to make him play one-on-one against a bunch of little kids while Jordan is chained up? You know, so the kids will keep winning over and over again for eternity? That was Jordan’s personal version of hell.
Tonight was Nick Saban’s. He was on national TV. He was asked about the title game -- particularly about the team that knocked him out of BCS championship contention. And he had to do this instead of sitting in a film room stewing about Alabama's 45-31 Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma a few days earlier. That’s why Saban forced out laughs. If those laughs didn’t come, you would’ve seen literal smoke coming out of his ears, and the mercury in one of those cartoon thermometers would risen until it cracked the glass.
Best reason Auburn could have won
Makes perfect sense. One would think Florida State shouldn't have even bothered to show up if the Tigers had Jay-Z and Beyonce blessing their play calls and the Illuminati in their logo. This thing seemed like it was over before it started.
Then again, maybe Fisher is Illuminati, too? Think about it. He sure talks faster than any of us. Maybe there are some hidden keywords and messages in there. We never can be too sure.
ESPN’s MegaCast seemed like a novel idea coming into the game. After all, who would want to watch anything other than the game itself? But aside from the clunky and outright weird ESPN2 version (which featured Cheryl Hines and Taylor Hicks at various points), the outside-the-box options were great. I watched ESPNews for the majority of the game, as Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin and Boston College coach Steve Addazio were joined by Chris Spielman, Tom Luginbill and Matt Millen.
Although Millen needs to let people talk instead of cutting them off when he’s overly excited, it was great to hear coaches break down plays and penalties in real time. This is an idea that can translate to other events -- the NCAA tournament, the NFL playoffs, etc. -- and judging by the reaction on Twitter, plenty of other people seemed to like it, too.
Tweet of the night
It isn’t even about the national championship. In a major upset, it comes from Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, who randomly dropped in to call out @FauxPelini, one of the Internet’s most beloved parody accounts.
Pelini has tweeted like four times since the beginning of November, and he chose the second quarter of the BCS title game to drop this bomb. Take note, Texas. If you want to disrupt the flow of an event and make it your own, Bo Knows.
Best dressed award
Goes to Johnny Manziel and (gasp!) Tim Tebow. The two spent some time together on ESPN2 and got along just fine. This was a good time for ESPN to roll out Tebow. He sounded calm and comfortable, and even though he was mostly lobbed softball questions during the pregame show, he gave intelligent and detailed answers. I know Tebow is a polarizing figure. But if he’s the one telling the story, he's no longer the story any more. Isn’t that better for all of us?
As for Manziel, he seemed completely in his element. This guy is a star and he knows it. He still has yet to make his NFL draft decision officially, but he looks ready both physically and mentally. Day by day, he's becoming an easier guy to root for, and he’s already one of my favorite players in the league -- even though he won’t be on a team for (at least) another three-plus months.
12th man award
(Via SB Nation)
How can we give this to anyone other than Red Lightning? He’s been a force of nature all year. He has his own YouTube videos. He got a shout out on ESPN during the ACC championship game. He’s had profiles written about him. And he’s still out there doing his thing, trying to will the Seminoles to victory. Celebrate, buddy. You certainly earned it.
Lasting memory In moving pictures
(Via Spencer Hall)
That was fun. Let's do this again sometime.