The common refrain of the Bowl Championship Series era was that, frustrating as it was to only have two teams to pick, the system picked the right two more often than not. Had the BCS met its death date in 2014 rather than 2013, Florida State and Alabama would be preparing for the national championship game right now.
God bless the College Football Playoff.
Here are 10 thoughts from an unprecedented New Year’s Day.
1. Jameis Winston made a habit of pulling rabbits out of hats, but his talent does not extend to ducks. After a solid year of comeback after comeback, this was the way Florida State’s 29-game winning streak had to end: emphatically. What many thought would be Oregon’s Achilles heel – its defense – turned out to be its strength, coming up with a critical goal-line stand before the game turned into a blowout, and then turned the game into a blowout by forcing five turnovers in Florida State’s first six second-half possessions. And they also did this:
2. New reality show: Tom Herman teaches fourth graders, your grandmother and inanimate objects how to play quarterback. Making just his second start, Cardale Jones threw for 243 yards and rushed for 43 punishing yards to lead Ohio State out of a 21-6 hole and into a 42-35 win over No. 1 Alabama. Most importantly, he never got too high or too low and got better as the game progressed.
Gashing the nation’s No. 1 rush defense for 281 yards and 6.7 yards per carry didn’t hurt. Neither did holding Alabama to 2-of-13 on third down and intercepting three passes.
3. Mark Dantonio will be a highly-sought after interview request this week. He’s the only coach to face both of the national title combatants, and they’re the only teams to beat him this year.
In case you weren’t aware, Dantonio is 53-14 in the past five seasons. Take that, Harbaugh.
4. How long has it been since the the SEC did not play for the national championship? NFL Network just released a documentary about the last time it happened.
5. After starting 30-0 in non-conference play, the SEC West finished the season on a five-game losing streak. If this bowl season has taught us anything, may it be that we stop viewing college football through the conference kaleidoscope in 2015 and beyond. All of the Power Five leagues were more or less equal in 2014, with the difference boiling down to individual teams and matchups.
6. Baylor will have no trouble motivating its players for the next nine months. Those who choose to naysay Baylor and its 26-4 record over its last 30 games gained more ammunition Thursday as the Bears turned a 41-21 lead into a 42-41 loss. Art Briles and company will have from now until September to think about all the different things that had to happen – or not happen – for them to lose that game. Here’s hoping, for their part, they use this loss as a launching pad. 7. Baylor’s kicker got wiped out.
8. And lived to tell about it.
Baylor’s kicker is alive! pic.twitter.com/YG9oVx0HIU
— FootballScoop Staff (@FootballScoop) January 2, 2015
9. Two long-time, celebrated defensive coordinators go out on top. Pat Narduzzi’s bunch took a beating through three quarters but held Baylor to minus-20 rushing yards and shut the Bears out in the fourth quarter. In Orlando, Dave Steckel said goodbye after more than a decade and a half on Gary Pinkel’s staff with a 33-17 win over Minnesota.
10. Here’s something Barry Alvarez never anticipated a month ago:
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) January 2, 2015
The College Football Hall of Fame substitute teacher led Wisconsin to an overtime defeat of Auburn, running the ball exactly twice as many times (54) as he threw it (27). And facing the prospect of a touchdown beating him, defensive coordinator Dave Aranda pushed Auburn two yards backwards in the bottom of the first overtime, forcing the fateful 45-yard missed field goal.