The collective coaching IQs on the field for the second of two New Years Day national semifinals made Ohio State and Alabama seem like a meeting of the world’s greatest mathematicians at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman, the 2014 Broyles Award winner as the nation’s top assistant vs. his Alabama counterpart Lane Kiffin, another 2014 Broyles Award nominee.
'Bama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart may be Saban’s successor one day and Luke Fickell was actually Meyer’s predecessor at Ohio State in 2011. The headliners though, are Urban Meyer and Nick Saban.
If Meyer is interested in picking up an extra check, the arm-less Arizona Cardinals are blowing up his cell for his assistance as a temporary consultant. The Ohio State Buckeyes may have one of the great quarterback depth charts in the history of college football and the coaching mind of Meyer is the architect.
If Braxton Miller was Woody Dantzler, JT Barrett was Meyer’s latest Tebow model, then Cardale Jones was the hulking mass behind center playing the Cam Newton role. Meyer never got the opportunity to unleash Newton in his Florida offense before the future Heisman winner left the Florida program in ignominious fashion as a sophomore.
He nearly didn’t get a chance to work with Jones, who gave coaches headaches with his apathy towards academics.
The 250 pound Jones plays from the pocket and rifles spears into the chests of his receivers, but he also exhibited exceptional north-south mobility sprinting towards his own endzone.
Ohio State is the closest thing to Alabama you can have in a cold weather state. Seven claimed national titles and 862 wins is nothing to sneeze at—unless you’re the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Fifteen national championships, three in the last five years and 850 wins stands as the standard for SEC football. However, in the last two decades, the SEC has reached the top of the college football food chain, with Alabama being the most feared creature in the vast college football landscape.
Alabama is the fabled sea monster that shipwrecked the Whaleship Essex crew on an island in the 19th century and inspired Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.
Ron Howard is adapting the non-fictional account of the Essex’s crew into a film, but Urban Meyer is college football’s Captain Ahab archetype, harpoon in hand with the sea churning and wind swirling, obsessed with unseating the SEC’s immovable object from his lofty perch.
He failed at Florida—and nearly died trying.
Hours after their loss to Alabama in Tim Tebow’s final SEC game, Meyer collapsed in his home and resigned only days later to focus on his ailing health.
Just as nobody is as joyless winning as Saban, nobody takes losing harder than Urban Meyer.
After last December’s Big Ten title loss knocked the Buckeyes out of the BCS national title game’s No. 2 slot, a photo of Meyer eating cold pizza on a golf cart was taken and immediately went viral, representing the portrait of a broken man heading up a crestfallen program.
Ohio State has been victimized by the SEC for two decades. In nine chances, Ohio State was winless in bowl games against the mythical beast of the SEC.
When the Buckeyes were buried beneath an early 21-6 rubble, the coffins were being shipped for the Big Ten’s representative.
Oregon and Alabama have been great, without question, but Florida State and Ohio State have looked like chumps and not contenders.— Michael Wilbon (@RealMikeWilbon) January 2, 2015
Then, in the final minutes of the first half, Ohio State caught a wave and never let go. The Buckeyes ended the half trailing by just one.
The Crimson Tide built their lead off of a first half Ezekiel Elliott fumble and were fittingly sent out to pasture following Elliot’s 85-yard touchdown run—the longest scrimmage play allowed by Bama all season.
There was no running away from this challenge. Instead, the Buckeyes and Ezekiel Elliott permeated through and leaped over the Crimson Tide’s vaunted defense.
For the first time since USC and Texas’ climactic 2005 Rose Bowl finish, the national title game will not feature an SEC team.
The best collegiate football conference in the nation has been shut out, however, the most prominent brain in the sport has made his return to the grandest stage at the perfect time. The Big Ten has been Ohio State’s playground for over a decade, but just when they conquer the SEC, Harbaugh’s soft launch in Ann Arbor figures to make their own backyard rivalry a tougher battleground.
Doors are open at Schembechler Hall. Look forward to getting knee-to-knee with the current team. Players, stop by and say hi!— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) January 2, 2015
But before Meyer begins recruiting against Harbaugh he’ll have to prep for Oregon on Jan. 12.
Jameis Winston doesn’t do anything quietly. He rose to the peak of his prominence as the rambunctious, grandiloquent leader of the Florida State Seminoles offense.
On New Years Day 2015, he finally discovered his football mortality and quietly walked off of a college football field with his first loss as a starter, but not before spectacularly imploding. #BlameJameis is a popular Internet hashtag that has been commonly used for much of 2014, but in 2015 it came to be used as an overly simplistic explanation for FSU’s loss.
The truth is that the Rose Bowl parade continued into the afternoon as Oregon’s offense proceeded to matriculate the ball up and down the field on Florida State’s limp defense. Winston was the only reason Florida State reached Pasadena or for the Seminoles even keeping it slightly competitive.
A cold snap lingered in Pasadena, California on Thursday, which may explain FSU coughing up the ball five times in their 59-20 loss to Oregon.
Marcus Mariota’s performance was solid, but not transcendent enough to account for a 59-20 final score.
In the macro, Oregon’s statement win was another boost for the Pac-12 which has been absolutely taking names in bowl season.
Oregon’s physicality was established when they thrashed FSU in the trenches on a pair of goal line stops in the first half
The narrative of Oregon’s finesse is one that has proliferated because of their style of play and preference for lighter offensive lineman, which is why the Ducks victories in the trenches must have been so shocking to the hoi polloi fan.
Oregon smashed AND dashed Florida State on both sides of the ball. To top it off, they used the Jameis Winston five-finger discount to abscond with five turnovers including a slip and phantom fumble while he scrambled, then set up to throw on fourth down, which resulted in a runaway Oregon defensive touchdown that’s become known as the “Bumble Stumble”, which essentially sealed the deal on any rally plans.
Twitter and social media have had Photoshop fun with the play at Winston’s expense, but it’s essentially the same play Winston has made throughout his career against Boston College and Maryland.
Oregon’s system was too much for Winston’s gridiron magic.
ON THE SIDELINE: 8 IS THE MAGIC NUMBER
While it’s true that the BCS National Championship would have left out the semifinal winners, the four-team playoff may also have omitted the nation’s most deserving team. As Oregon and Ohio State pack for the national championship game in Dallas, TCU begins is offseason on the heels of a 42-3 dismantling of Ole Miss.
New Year's Six was the moniker ascribed to the six major bowl games that included the playoff semifinals, but eight is the magic number.
At the earliest possible point, the shift to an eight-team playoff should be enacted.
Any number higher than that is excessive. However, eight is enough to appease the elite one-loss and even an occasional two-loss team.
Conversely, Michigan State and Baylor’s dramatic finish in the Cotton Bowl could have been a playoff thriller in an eight-team playoff. Baylor’s glaring absence from the semifinals has been harped on for nearly a month, but the eighth-ranked Michigan State Spartans’ only blemishes this season have been to Ohio State and Oregon. Do those two teams sound familiar?