Jameis Winston was deservedly named MVP of Florida State's BCS National Championship win on Monday night, but the Seminoles wouldn't have won if it weren't for Rashad Greene.
Although the dynamic junior wide receiver piled up 147 yards on nine receptions in the instant-classic 34-31 victory, his numbers—as crazy as it sounds considering the enormity of them—don't quite do his performance justice. It was the timing and the importance of his catches that set his outing apart.
We might as well start with the most crucial of the bunch.
With Florida State trailing by four and just over a minute remaining, Winston looked Greene's way—and it paid off in a massive fashion. Greene, who early became the first 'Noles wide receiver to tally 1,000 yards in a season since Anquan Boldin, pulled in an eight-yard reception on the first play of the drive. On the next, he turned a seven-yard route into a 49-yard gain to set up the 'Noles for the national championship-winning score.
John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader summed up the moment, calling it the "play of the drive":
Rashad Greene splitting Auburn tacklers to turn a short pass into 49-yard gain was play of the drive.— John Clay (@johnclayiv) January 7, 2014
Greene talked about the integral play afterward, via ESPN's Joe Schad:
Rashad Greene's long catch and run to set up winning score was K 2 Roger Panther. "I just saw daylight," he said.— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) January 7, 2014
I'd say so.
The speedy receiver was clutch for the entirety of the game. Let's take a look at some of the numbers.
Of his nine receptions, six went for first downs, including a 29-yard grab on 3rd-and-16 that set up an opening field goal for the 'Noles.
Moreover, every time he was involved in the offense, good things were happening for Florida State. Greene caught passes on five of FSU's 12 offensive drives. On four of those, the Seminoles put points on the board. For comparison, they had five scoring possessions (not counting Kermit Whitfield's kickoff return for touchdown) all game.
Who was Florida State's MVP?
Essentially, in one way or another, getting the ball in Greene's hands typically equaled points of some kind.
It's not surprising Winston won MVP. He put together a tremendous second half after a forgettable start, and considering the sexy story (freshman quarterback, Heisman winner, etc.), there was really no way he wasn't going to be given the award.
But Greene deserves praise for one of the most underrated, clutch performances you'll see in a national championship. Without him, the Auburn Tigers and Tre Mason are celebrating right now.