Points Over Pints: A Historic Weekend Of Rivalries
By Joe Jenkins
This Week's Beer: Shoppe Bräu Holy S@#t.
I had a beer selection picked out for rivalry week. I even had a nice introduction all about the rivalry week clichés.
Then the Iron Bowl happened. More specifically, the fourth quarter of the Iron Bowl happened. Instead of finishing the article, I hit delete. Time to start over.
I sat back and reflected not only on the Iron Bowl, but on all of the jaw-dropping moments starting Friday and ending just after 11 p.m. ET on Saturday night. If a better 24-hour stretch of college football occurred during my 32 years on this planet, I don’t remember it.
Sometimes the appropriate form of the English language leaves us wanting. Sometimes the only way to describe properly what we saw is to embrace the less-than-graceful four-letter words that fell out of our mouths.
So fill your glass with “Holy S@#t”, an Imperial IPA brewed by Shoppe Bräu in Berlin, Germany.
The First Sips
I’ve seen games end on field goals, blocked field goals, official reviews, defensive stands on fourth-and-short and Hail Marys.
I’ve never seen everything come together in one amazing fourth quarter, and I certainly have never seen a failed field goal attempt get fielded and returned more than 100 yards with no time left on the clock.
Let’s take stock of what the ending of Saturday's Iron Bowl has done for college football. I’ll let you decide for yourself if it’s the most thrilling ending ever seen.
- Auburn put the Alabama dynasty/reign of terror over college football on hold for a year. It was bound to happen. We had seen the Crimson Tide play below their capabilities a few times this season, but never against a team that could take advantage of it.
- AJ McCarron made a 99-yard pass early in the fourth quarter, which should have been his Heisman signature moment. However, the gravity of it evaporated during the Iron Bowl's final moments, likely taking any real shot McCarron had at winning the trophy along with it.
- Gus Malzahn outcoached Nick Saban. When was the last time you could say somebody called a better game than Saban?
- Watch now as teams alter their personnel on long, late-game field goals. Chris Davis was able to streak down the sideline because placekicking units rarely have any skilled players. They’re designed to protect the kicker, not tackle a return man.
- Believe it or not, the BCS is now a bigger mess with two undefeated teams than it was with three. There are murmurs, and therefore potential, for a one-loss Auburn or Missouri to jump over the undefeated Ohio State. I find the prospect highly unlikely, but if it happens, we can go ahead and blow up the concept of “automatic qualifiers” for any non-SEC conference.
I’ll say it again: “Holy $h!t.”
• Believe it or not, the Iron Bowl wasn't the only football game played over the long weekend. It just feels that way.
• At 3:45 p.m., Brady Hoke’s decision to go for two points to win the game against Ohio State looked like it would be the top national story. Let it be known that Hoke made the right decision. The Buckeyes rushing attack had shredded the Michigan defense for nearly 400 yards, and Carlos Hyde was picking up steam as the game wore on. More importantly, Devin Gardner, who delivered his best performance of the season, was playing on one good leg. When your best player is hurt, you look to end the game as soon as possible, not extend it. Hoke should be praised for coaching without fear, not questioned about it.
• It’s funny what a year can do. In 2012, no self-respecting SEC fan wanted to acknowledge Missouri’s membership in the conference. They did not play “big-boy football.” After winning the SEC East with a 28-21 win over Texas A&M, they are the feel-good story of the year. Never mind that they’re playing the exact same brand of football as last year.
• Also, should Missouri beat Auburn next week, is there a one-loss team more deserving of a shot at Florida State? Missouri’s only loss came against a Top 10 South Carolina team in double overtime with backup quarterback Maty Mauk running the show.
• The BCS buster debate cleaned itself up when Fresno State lost to San Jose State 62-52 on Friday night. Quarterbacks David Carr and David Fales threw for a combined 12 touchdowns in the first half. Twelve. They went on to throw for zero in the second. The shame of this is that Fresno would have provided better entertainment than Northern Illinois in a BCS game with that high-octane offense. Now we can see Northern Illinois get outclassed for the second year in a row.
The Last Gulp
I hope you saved one last swallow for the toast.
There are plenty of decisions to question this week, but I’d rather focus on the positive. Missouri fans might talk about the first time they won the SEC East 15 years from now. Big Ten fans will still debate Brady Hoke going for two in 2038. All college football fans will be talking about the end of the Iron Bowl for the rest of their lives.
Here’s to the best weekend of college football we may ever see…
…and to a 24-hour stretch filled with “Holy $h!ts.”