NCAA football just keeps getting wilder

Published 8:23 pm Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The NCAA football season is quickly drawing to a close in the most hair-pulling, jaw-dropping fashion I’ve ever witnessed. November is the season to remember, as they say.
I had the pleasure of visiting one of my best friends in Columbia, S.C., last weekend to watch No. 10 South Carolina play No. 6 Clemson. For both teams, the annual showdown conjures up similar feelings of good-old-fashioned hate that Georgia and Goergia Tech fans feel toward each other (maybe even to a greater degree).
South Carolina fought hard, pulled off a couple amazing stops and emerged victorious 31-17. What a game. I’m a Dawg fan at heart and am supposed to dislike my SEC East competition, but I had a blast cheering for the Gamecocks. It also helped they were playing the team that gave Georgia their first heartbreaking loss this season.
Columbia was in full-blown party mode. We stopped at a restaurant and watched the highlights from earlier that evening. The Dawgs somehow, someway managed to escape the sting of the Yellowjackets in a 41-34 double-overtime win. Good for Hutson Mason, the redshirt junior quarterback who was thrown into the starting position after Aaron Murray’s ACL tear last weekend against Kentucky. Mason threw for 299 yards, two touchdowns and only one interception. He’s looking good for next season, especially with some amazing receivers returning and all that leg power Georgia will have in the backfield.
The highlights continued to spotlight another rivalry. I watched as No. 3 Ohio State almost collapsed from Michigan’s unexpected rally. The Wolverines could have tied the game at 42-42 in the final seconds with a field goal. But they went for two points. They went for the win and Ohio State survived.
I was baffled and confused by the call to go for a 2-point conversion, but even more confused why Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner threw the ball into obvious double-coverage. It might have been the last option, but running the ball I think would have given them a better shot. Or even better, kick the extra point and send the game to overtime. Hindsight is 20/20, I guess.
Then I saw it, and everyone who watched football last weekend knows what “it” is. No. 4 Auburn defeated No. 1. Alabama in the craziest football moment I’ve ever witnessed.
The game was almost over. Saban demanded one last second on the clock after Crimson Tide running back TJ Yeldon stepped out of bounds and seemingly ended the game. The officials reviewed the play and granted Saban’s request. Kicker Adam Griffith attempted a 57-yarder. It was short of the goal post, but caught by Davis in the back of the end zone.
Off he went. He bolted around the left side. He’s at the 20-yard line, the 25-yard line. He had the blocks. Now he’s at the 40-yard line. He was picking up speed. He teetered and danced mere centimeters inside the sideline. Then he was at the 50-yard line, Alabama’s 45-yard line. Was this real? Then he was gone, home free, straight across the goal line.
That one hurt. After Auburn’s miraculous touchdown catch against Georgia a couple weeks ago, this once-in-a-lifetime missed field goal touchdown return was like the knife being twisted. Dynasty faced Destiny last Saturday, as an ESPN analyst put it, and Destiny walked out with the win.
Auburn’s touchdown was all we talked about the rest of the night. My friends and I moaned and groaned with every replay and analysis of the Chris Davis run. But I learned something. One second is sometimes all you need to make a play, whether it’s the Auburn Tigers or the Bainbridge Bearcats. They scored a legitimate touchdown in the most unpredictable way possible. Certainly, there’s something to be said for that.
Regardless of what happens to the Tigers, this season will be forever remembered. The manner in which it’s remembered, though, will seriously vary.