PASADENA (CBSMiami) – As much as the Bowl Championship Series was maligned; when the system wrote its final chapter Monday night at the Rose Bowl, it closed the book on an era of college football with one of the best championship games ever.
Florida State looked like it was going to pull away from the Auburn Tigers after the Noles returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
Auburn wasn’t done and marched down the field when running back Tre’ Mason ran through and over the Noles’ vaunted defense for a 37-yard touchdown with a little more than a minute to go in the game.
Then Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston came into the most pressure-packed situation of his young career and proceeded to drive the Seminoles offense down to the two yard line with just 17 seconds to go in the game.
Auburn’s defense, which had played exceptionally well against the Noles, made a key mistake on the 1st and Goal play. Auburn lined up a cornerback one-on-one with FSU’s 6’5” receiver, Kelvin Benjamin. When Winston saw Benjamin lined up with one-on-one coverage, he knew exactly where he was going with the ball.
Auburn brought pressure up the middle trying to throw off Winston’s timing, but it wasn’t enough. Winston lobbed a pass into a spot where only the 6’5” Benjamin could catch it and when the receiver’s hands wrapped around the ball, the Seminoles were the new national champions.
It was a fitting ending to the BCS era that saw controversy and in recent years blowouts in championship games. The SEC dominated the BCS championship until FSU ended a streak of seven straight national championships Monday night.
It was arguably the most thrilling BCS Championship game since Texas and USC played in 2006. In that game, Texas’ Vince Young quarterbacked his team to the nine-yard line but was facing a fourth and five and needing a touchdown to win the game.
Young saw his pocket collapsing around him and began to run towards the end zone. A few key blocks later, Young scampered into the end zone with a touchdown and at the time the closest game the BCS era had seen.
Then Monday night happened and Jameis Winston and Florida State became legends with their version of “The Drive,” all due respect to John Elway and the Denver Broncos.
The BCS era will not be missed by most college football fans, although, for the most part the system did put a worthy champion on the podium at the end of the year. Next season, the college football playoff will begin with four teams playing two games for the right to be the national champion.
But for one final night and for one final play, all was right in the college football world as the game had a new national champion and FSU had its third national championship in the last 20 years.
If the college football playoff can produce games as good as the final BCS national championship game, college football fans will be in for quite a ride for the next several season.