It wasn't the best BCS Championship game. It wasn't the most bizarre. And it certainly wasn't the most hyped or compelling matchup coming in.
Heck, for large portions of the game, it wasn't even that captivating. But oh, that finish. Florida State's 34-31 victory over Auburn was highlighted by the team's 21 fourth-quarter points (and 10 from Auburn), leading to one of the finest quarters in the history of the BCS national championship.
It had a little of everything. Jameis Winston added to his legend, leading Florida State to a comeback win and capping his Heisman season. There were memorable plays—Kermit Whitfield's kick return, Tre Mason's tackle-breaking touchdown run just minutes later—memorable players and, finally, the end of the SEC's domination atop the college football world.
And, if nothing else, we'll always remember this game as the swan song of the BCS, as college football finally reverts to a playoff system starting next season.
So how do we judge it amongst the other BCS title games?
Sure, this game can't compare to the 2005 championship between Texas and USC, arguably the greatest game in college football history. In that back-and-forth contest, Vince Young led the Longhorns past Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and the insanely talented Trojans, 41-38.
Keep in mind that USC went into the season as the No. 1 team and Texas was No. 2, and it stayed that way the entire season. Or that USC had two Heisman winners (Leinart and Bush). Young won it on a touchdown scamper with seconds remaining, capping off a night when he accumulated an amazing 467 yards from scrimmage, including 200 rushing yards and three rushing scores.
In every sense of the word, it was epic. And it is unquestionably the finest BCS Championship game ever.
This game didn't have the incredible ending of the 2002 iteration between Ohio State and Miami, either. That game went into overtime, was affected by a terrible pass interference call in the end zone and had a pretty shocking result. Miami was chock-full of future NFL players and had won the title the year before.
On most lists of BCS title games, this one would justifiably earn the No. 2 ranking.
As bizarre games go, the 2010 BCS Championship between Cam Newton's Auburn and Chip Kelly's Oregon takes the cake. While the game itself wasn't terribly memorable, the key play on the final drive was Michael Dyer's long run after the entire stadium thought he had been tackled.
Play to the whistle, kids.
There were more hyped matchups: Obviously, USC versus Texas. Wire-to-wire No. 1 Florida State in the 1999 championship game against Michael Vick's Virginia Tech. Alabama and LSU playing in a rematch two seasons ago, even if that matchup earned the nation's ire.
But let's be honest, those were clearly the two best teams in the country.
While Winston seems destined to be a star, we've seen bigger ones on this stage (at least at that time in college football). Newton. Vick. Tim Tebow. Leinart, Bush and Young.
But when you add everything together, this was a top-three BCS championship. Texas and USC can't be touched, while the finish and upset of Ohio State defeating Miami will always be iconic. But after that, the fourth quarter of this year's BCS Championship vaults it to the No. 3 spot.
A last-second, game-winning touchdown. A fourth quarter that saw three lead changes. A kick return for a touchdown. The Heisman winner leading his team to three touchdowns down the stretch.
It was one of the finest quarters you'll see, and despite being a less-than-thrilling matchup in the pantheon of great college football games, it turned out to be an excellent contest. Remember this game fondly, folks—in a see of underwhelming BCS Championships, this game was pretty special.
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