The Times West Virginian

January 7, 2014

Exciting college bowl season comes to close

By Matt Welch
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — With a 34-31 victory by Flordia State to end the Bowl Championship Series era in college football, an exciting year of college bowl season has come to a close.

Leading up to the BCS title game, 11 teams that had a record worse than their opponents’ took home victories. Of the 34 games played, only two games featured teams with the same record.

Usually leading into the bowl season there are teams and fans complaining that their team was snubbed for certain bowl bids. But after Ohio State, which was previously undefeated, dropped their final game of the season to Michigan State in the Big 10 championship game, Auburn was awarded the final slot into the BCS title game.

No one complained really, looking at the body of work of both teams and already knowing how the computers generally generate the BCS standings.

But Ohio State’s loss, coupled with Auburn’s astounding victory over Alabama, set up some fascinating bowl matchups, including last night’s national title game.

In my eyes, the best game of the bowl season was Michigan State-Stanford. The Rose Bowl, nicknamed “the Granddaddy of them of all,” lived up to the hype.

The game, one which featured two old school-style football teams, finished on a defensive stand in which backup linebacker Kyler Elsworth hurled himself over the pile of offensive and defensive linemen to stop Stanford’s Ryan Hewitt on a fourth-and-1 with 1:46 left in the game.

The play ultimately sealed the deal for Michigan State, which won, 24-20.

Besides that you have the Allstate Sugar Bowl, which featured, who most still claimed as the nation’s best team, Alabama and an Oklahoma team who had a quarterback making his first bowl appearance.

Trevor Knight, Oklahoma’s true freshman signal caller, picked a good game to have his coming out party.

Earlier that season, in a 16-7 victory over West Virginia, Knight was benched in the fourth quarter.

In the Sugar Bowl, though, Knight torched the Alabama defense for 348 yards and 4 touchdowns in an eventual 45-31 wallop of one of the SEC’s finest.

Then there was the Discover Orange Bowl, which became Ohio State’s fate after their loss in the Big 10 title game.

The Orange Bowl pitted Ohio State against Clemson, which still carried the sour taste of a 70-33 onslaught by West Virginia just two years prior.

Despite Clemson breaking out to a 20-9 second quarter lead, Ohio State made a game of it.

Until the end.

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller was sacked late in the fourth quarter, giving Clemson a shot to put the game away for good. But Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, who set the Orange Bowl record for total yards, threw an untimely interception to give Ohio State one final shot with 1:27 left.

But Miller and the Buckeyes faltered again, throwing a pick on just the second play of the drive and Ohio State lost, 40-35.

Besides the games that took the national spotlight for days after their end, college football fans saw Johnny Manziel lead Texas A&M back over Duke, Mack Brown lose in his final game with Texas, Blake Bortles lead UCF over Baylor in a high scoring event and Marshall rout Maryland.

Now that the games are over, though, fans can now turn their attention to the college basketball scene, coaching carousels and recruiting.

So until next season, college football. It’s been good.