Oh What a Night, Cotton Bowl, Orange Bowl Give Us Best Night of Bowl Season

Adam Kramer@kegsneggsNational College Football Lead WriterJanuary 4, 2014

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 03:  (L-R) Sammy Watkins #2, head coach Dabo Swinney and Tajh Boyd #10 of the Clemson Tigers celebrate after defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 3, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Clemson defeated Ohio State 40-35.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Friday night was an evening built for multiple televisions, a full fridge and an extra set of eyeballs. And if you were functioning with only one screen at your disposal, hopefully your remote-control skills was up to par.

All the while, Texas might have found a new head coach. 

This was, without question, the most exciting, most exhausting night of the college football bowl season. There were 147 points in 120 minutes and 2,013 combined yards, a strange, gargantuan and fitting tribute to the year that was. 

The action at the Cotton Bowl and the Orange Bowl was relentless, chaotic and a pleasurable conundrum to have in terms of viewing options. Starting these two prestigious bowls at nearly the exact same time didn’t seem like the brightest idea as the night fired up.

In the end, however, it worked out brilliantly. 

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 03:  Evan Boehm #77 and Anthony Gatti #70 of the Missouri Tigers celebrate after the Tigers defeat the Oklahoma State Cowboys 41-31 during the AT&T Cotton Bowl on January 3, 2014 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Gett
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Cotton Bowl was the first game to kick off, but it was also the last to finish. This was a product of a rough start, as early returns were not for the faint of heart for either Missouri or Oklahoma State.

Offensively, both teams struggled. It got better, though, much better.

After sputtering through the better part of three quarters, the fourth quarter morphed into a touchdown buffet. The two teams combined to score 41 points in the final 15 minutes, although the last seven proved to be the most significant.

With Oklahoma State down just three and driving with a little more than a minute left in the game, the Cowboys looked poised to tie up the game or take the lead, but linebacker Michael Sam knocked the ball out of quarterback Clint Chelf’s hands. 

Missouri defensive lineman Shane Ray grabbed the ball and took it 73 yards the other way.

This play locked up a thrilling 41-31 win for the Tigers, capping off an unexpected season for a team that was nowhere near the radar of most college football fans before the season began. This, of course, called for a little celebratory dancing from the team's head coach.

While it would have been enough in and of itself, the Cotton Bowl finish was just a nightcap. Getting there included the Orange Bowl conclusion, a game that reached emotional swing capacity.

Like the Cotton Bowl, it didn't come with the best of starts. The night felt like it would be over early, as Clemson jumped out of the gates fast and showed no signs of slowing down. Ohio State battled, however, and two second-quarter Braxton Miller touchdowns gave the Buckeyes the lead at half.

From there, Clemson wideout Sammy Watkins went to work, playing in what was likely his final collegiate game. Watkins finished with 16 catches for 227 yards and two scores, one of which was a pretty 30-yard score late in the third quarter.

Despite Watkins' incredible evening, the Buckeyes were able to respond time and again. Running back Carlos Hyde caught a touchdown to put Ohio State ahead in the fourth. Clemson then regained the lead five minutes later on a Tajh Boyd touchdown pass.

After Miller fumbled on a tough hit—a theme throughout the evening—Ohio State gave the ball back to Clemson with only a few minutes remaining. Only then, Boyd gave the ball back to the Buckeyes with his second interception of the game, giving OSU a chance to win with less than two minutes on the clock.

Only Miller gave it back to Clemson one final time, throwing his second interception of the night and thus ending the shootout. When it was all said and done, and the final bit of momentum was swung in the Tigers direction, Clemson bested Ohio State 40-35.

The "Clemsoning" alarm was silenced.

Head coach Dabo Swinney celebrated the victory slightly different from Gary Pinkle, although the results were equally as impressive. Swinney, often times a verbal jab partner with South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier, unleashed this trolling fury with his postgame remarks:

Dabo says during #OrangeBowl trophy presentation "we're the only team from South Carolina to win a BCS game."

— ESPN ACC (@ESPN_ACC) January 4, 2014

All of the action: the fantastic plays, the fantastic players, the mistakes, the points, the destruction and the trolling occurred during one brilliant evening of football.

This is why you watch, hoping to see the game’s best players perform on the biggest stages imaginable and maybe something unexpected along the way. Rarely, however, do these performances coincide with tight games, and rarely are we treated to multiple showings at once. 

The bowl season can be a mixed bag, often times delivering blowouts and a lack of competitive moments. That has not been the case in recent days, although Friday night’s action somehow topped it all. 

Perhaps the final BCS National Championship will top this remote workout, although it certainly has its work cut out for it.