Points Over Pints: Upsets And Amazing Endings Bring 2013 To A Close
This Week’s Beer
Bitter End Pale Ale.
Hard to believe it, ladies and gentlemen, but it’s all over.
It seems like just yesterday we were popping the tops off our Miller High Life and drinking to the long-awaited return of college pigskin.
Now it’s so cold in New York, I can’t even store my beer in my garage for fear the sub-arctic temperatures might freeze it all solid.
But we all know this isn’t just an end to a season. This year saw the end of the SEC’s seven-year reign over college football. It also scientifically proved that the winner of the Iron Bowl isn’t always the de facto national champion. That hadn’t happened since 2008, either.
Larger view, it’s the end of an era in college football. Everything will be different next year, and while we’re all pretty positive leaving the BCS behind for a four-team playoff will be for the better, it’s hard to not feel a little nostalgic.
Don’t worry folks, its all going to feel eerily similar next year. The SEC will still be the best conference from top-to-bottom, and we’ll still be complaining about how “the system” got it wrong because some school deserved a shot in the national semifinals.
But we’re not here to talk about what’s to come next season. We’re here to say goodbye to our friend and toast the end of the 2013 season.
And what an ending it was.
In honor of an amazing final run of BCS games, we’ll be drinking Bitter End Pale Ale, by Two Brothers Brewing out of Warrenville, Ill. Because it’s sad to see such an entertaining string of games conclude.
The First Sips
The last time college football had a national champion from outside the SEC, George W. Bush was still president, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were still giving out subprime mortgages, the auto industry hadn’t been bailed out yet, John Madden was still calling football games with Al Michaels and I was able to have a few drinks on a Saturday night without having to worry about the dreaded two-day hangover.
A lot can happen in seven years. Heck, a lot can happen over a football season. Back in August a friend of mine was looking for gambling advice and asked if he should take Florida State to cover the points against Pittsburgh.
I told him to hold off only because the Seminoles were starting a freshman quarterback who was supposed to be good, but nobody had enough info on him to say for sure.
Watching Jameis Winston come back and orchestrate the game-winning drive with less than two-minutes remaining after having been beaten into the ground for three quarters confirmed that I will never doubt the kid again. Not as long as he’s wearing a Florida State uniform.
Jimbo Fisher’s call for the fake punt that led to the Seminoles’ first touchdown before halftime may have been the critical play call. Levante Whitfield’s kickoff return might be the most electrifying play. But Winston’s ability to bounce back from being overwhelmed by Auburn, and really, by the moment in general is what put FSU over.
Thanks to Tre Mason, seeing Auburn’s feel-good story fall short didn’t hurt too much, either. His low-class Heisman pose following his final touchdown went a long way to tarnish a virtuoso performance in the biggest game of the year.
• One of the most indelible images from the BCS games were the expressions on the faces of Alabama fans after losing 45-31 to Bob Stoops and Oklahoma in the AllState Sugar Bowl. You can’t blame them. The last time the Crimson Tide lost to a non-SEC opponent was to Utah on Jan. 2, 2009. In the AllState Sugar Bowl.
• We spent the better part of the year putting down the American Athletic Conference, but UCF made sure the conference left the ranks of automatic qualifiers with some style when they "out-Baylored” Baylor. The Black Knights piled up 256 yards rushing, which was just shy of twice the number of yards the Bears gave up on the ground all year. Baylor also gift-wrapped 135 yards in penalties to UCF, which helped make up for the Knights’ three turnovers.
• For years we waited for Michigan State to have an offense that could compliment Mark Dantonio's shut-down defenses in East Lansing. It looks like they found it. Sophomore quarterback Connor Cook threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns in Sparty’s 24-20 win over Stanford. It wasn’t an anomaly. Cook averaged nearly 270 and two touchdowns in his last four games.
• Ohio State was a competent defensive backfield away from being legitimate championship contenders. The Buckeyes were shredded for 1,133 yards and 12 touchdowns in their final three games, including 378 yards and five scores to Tajh Boyd in a 40-35 loss to Clemson in the Discover Orange Bowl.
• Clemson’s Sammy Watkins may have had the record-breaking game with 227 receiving yards and two TDs, but take a minute to watch Martavis Bryant’s absurd scoring grab at the end of the third quarter 10-15 more times. It’s one of the best catches ever made in a BCS game.
The Last Gulp
We’ve regrettably come to our last gulp. It’s time to call it a year.
To close out the 2013 college football season, let's raise our glass and toast whoever decided to throw away the Coaches Trophy when the playoff takes over.
The BCS may not have always gotten it right, but the Waterford Crystal football was one of the coolest trophies in sports.
I’m going to miss the Coaches Trophy. I’m going to miss the 2013 season, and in a bittersweet way, the BCS. From Tee Martin and Peerless Price in 1998 to Winston and Rashad Greene in 2013, the BCS always managed to provide a long-lasting memory or two.
So long, old friends.
Until next season.