You put in a lot of time at the tailgate, on the couch and in the comment section. Countless hours are spent engulfed in the greatest sport on earth—college football, of course—hoping that the weekly hype will somehow match the results.
If we're being honest, it rarely does. But Week 14 was a glaring exception. Week 14 was the game's symphony.
From start to finish, it delivered. Chaos arrived in many ways, rivalries were decided in the final seconds—some beyond—and this past Saturday will go down as one of the greatest regular-season days of all time.
Of course, it began well before Saturday. It started with Northern Illinois quarterback—and Heisman contender, whether you like it or not—Jordan Lynch running for 321 yards against Western Michigan on Tuesday night.
In doing so, he broke the FBS single-game rushing record for a quarterback…for the second time this season.
It’s easy to criticize the competition—after all, Western Michigan is now 1-11—but the show itself was worth the price of admission. Also, midweek #MACtion rarely disappoints.
Moving to Thanksgiving, we were treated to the Egg Bowl on full stomachs and in a tryptophan haze.
Mississippi and Mississippi State did not deliver the cleanest of games. In fact, much of the game was a collaboration of missed opportunities, blunders and the opposite of touchdowns.
In a lot of ways, however, it was wildly entertaining in a “let’s never speak of it again” sort of way. It went to overtime, and after a Mississippi State touchdown it ended with a fumble by Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace.
A wild finish for a wild rivalry.
Rivalry week got the ball rolling early. Perhaps it was simply foreshadowing.
The following day wasn’t supposed to be riveting. The Friday slate was filled with enormous point spreads, although no Top 25 team won by more than four points.
With Zach Mettenberger injured, LSU needed a 99-yard drive from freshman Anthony Jennings to secure a comeback victory against Arkansas.
BCS buster hopeful Fresno State—ranked No. 16 in the country at the time—fell to unranked San Jose State in a game that featured 12 passing touchdowns…in the first half. The final score of 62-52 ended Fresno’s BCS hopes. It also featured 1,382 yards of offense.
The nightcap was just as good.
Oregon needed some late brilliance from quarterback Marcus Mariota to get by the Oregon State Beavers, and the Ducks’ late touchdown pass to Josh Huff with less than a half-minute remaining gave them a final 36-35 edge in the Civil War.
At almost the same moment, Central Florida mounted a comeback against South Florida to give the Knights a share of the AAC title. Quarterback Blake Bortles delivered a late touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman to keep the hopes alive.
And then there was Saturday, a buffet of intrigue from start to finish.
Ohio State and Michigan may have one of the most storied rivalries in college football, but the matchup in The Big House wasn’t supposed to be competitive. Oh, it was.
The game featured plenty of offense, a scrum followed by three ejections—including a parting gift to the fans in attendance—and it ended on a bold two-point conversion call that went in Ohio State’s favor.
This gave Ohio State a 42-41 victory—just like they drew it up—and the Buckeyes won their 24th game in a row. The ultimate ramifications of this win weren’t felt until later on.
Throughout the daily madness, Baylor nearly lost a shootout to TCU. Wisconsin took the “almost” one step further and lost outright at home to Penn State. The Badgers’ loss provided yet another BCS shakeup of its own, although it was seemingly forgotten in the headlines.
Playing without quarterback Aaron Murray and down 20-0, Georgia staged an enormous comeback against Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs clawed back into the game and eventually took the Yellow Jackets down 41-34 in double overtime.
Along the way, running back Todd Gurley tried to fly. He came close, too.
Other rivalries were decided. South Carolina continued its dominance over Clemson. Notre Dame put forth a game effort against Stanford, although the Cardinal were too much. Arizona State blasted Arizona to lock up home-field advantage in the Pac-12 Championship.
In the SEC, Gary Pinkel and Missouri capped off a brilliant regular season, beating Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel to secure a spot in the SEC Championship. It was elsewhere in the conference, however, that put an enormous, shiny, Lexus-sized bow on the weekend.
The 2013 Iron Bowl was built up to be the biggest rivalry game between Alabama and Auburn in quite some time, maybe of all time. It was reasonable to assume that the game itself would fall short of expectations.
Yet, that was not the case. It was the opposite, really.
The Iron Bowl was more than just one play. It was a football novel, with different chapters and an ending you couldn’t fathom manufacturing.
A 99-yard touchdown pass felt like the moment we would watch for eternity—perhaps it would be A.J. McCarron’s “Heisman” moment—although the game had other plans.
With one second on the clock—a second that was tacked on—Auburn’s Chris Davis returned Alabama’s missed field goal 100 yards in a play you’ve watched a few dozen times by now. You will see plenty more of it in the future.
The ending will be embedded in your brain for eternity. It will live on well beyond us. It was that special—ultimate heartbreak in one corner; overwhelming joy in the other. For those with no dog in the fight, it was simply remarkable.
And yet, it was just another piece of the most spectacular college football puzzle in recent memory. It was the most significant piece, of course, but Week 14 was more than just one unimaginable return.
It was a reminder that the unexpected does happen—especially when you least expect it—and the College Football Gods will eventually have their say. It was reminder of why you put in all those hours hoping you'll see one weekend like this that delivers from start to finish.
Week 14 was perfect.
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