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Jon Nelson

In With The New Playoff, Out With The Old...

By Jon NelsonPosted January 7, 2014 1:33pm (EST)
The Rose Bowl: The Last Home For The BCS Championship

The Rose Bowl: The Last Home For The BCS Championship


I'll admit it...

I was walking around in 70-plus degree weather yesterday...

All day...

I have seen all the different photos on social media from all of my friends and fellow media describing something going on in most of the country, but I'm going to have to say that I have no immediate recollection of what you're talking about. I remember walking through some jet ways in Minneapolis where I felt like I was walking through that beer commercial where the spelunker is trying to save the very meal his bartenders are trying to serve by bringing the glass bottle they just carved out of the nearest, ultra-convenient mountain side with an ice pick...

And, I dropped to my knees in profound thanks when I got into the concourse where the heat was working...

I'll admit it again...

I'm a very poor responder to cold... and the epic cold the east is taking care of for me can be sent on its way, thank you, by the time I return...

I had a football game to watch...

As someone who was a victim of the "Wide Right" and "Wide Left" eras at my alma mater where your time is marked by missed field goals at the most key moment against your hated rival- and you can recite the kickers who missed them and the direction the missed kicks missed- all of this talk about shoo-in national titles came across my ears with all the smoothness of a 7-year-old kid playing the cello for the first time- because his grandmother thought it would be a good idea...

The chalk across the chalkboard feeling when the kaolin fails to do its job because it isn't pointed enough to create the quadratic equation for Geometry class...???

That feeling...

And as the point spread against an "underdog" Auburn team climbed from 8 to 10 or 10-and-a-half points (depending on the independent businessman you follow for such advice), your hands go straight into "earmuffs" mode the closer you got to kickoff. Sure, the younger generation attached to the current Heisman Trophy winner came into the Arroyo Seco with entirely too much confidence. But they will understand, some day, not necessarily this one- that when you're given all the information and get to study from all angles that nothing is as easy as it's made to look...

I'll say this without qualification...

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn is crazy...

And I don't mean that in a bad way at all...

He's the guy who works in his basement at all hours trying to figure out how to make time travel economical for the middle-class family of four. He'll be more than happy to figure out a way to make your sedan run on something that smells like cooking grease, but gets 427,000-miles per gallon. And, if there's a bomb set to go off attached to your ankle, and all he has is a plastic six-pack holder and a to-go bag from In-n-Out Burger...

He'll figure something out...

Defensive Coordinator Ellis Johnson isn't too far behind Malzahn, either... he just needs to figure out the cooking grease equations his boss has on the whiteboard...

In the first half of this title game, Malzahn ran his game that got Auburn to the last game of the year. It included a pass down the seam to a tall receiver that you had to go deep into the stat book to ask yourself who he was and did he, in fact, exist before Monday night. To even find who Melvin Ray exactly was, you had to know exactly where North Florida Christian School was and that Casey Weldon was his high school coach (Yes, the FSU Casey Weldon, but hang on to your conspiracy theories- for now).

Ray had caught only four other passes the entire season and his 6-3 height advantage was used mainly on special teams...

Until he was so blatantly ignored travelling down the seam, that it was 14-3...
((HT: ESPN))

Johnson dialed up 30 days worth of coverages that freaked out Jameis Winston and kept him in the pocket- and also kept the Seminoles from running their offense quickly enough to tire a defense that had given up yards all year...

They, simply, weren't doing it...

But football is all about adjustments... and you can talk about the fake punt Jimbo Fisher called being absolutely huge to keep his team from getting blown out of the gym...

It was...

And you can talk about how FSU pushed everything offensive from the tackle box (where Auburn likes to make it's three and four-yard gains all night if you let them) to the edges where their superior pursuit speed gave it more of a shooting gallery look going from side-to-side and gaining little yardage in the second half...

It did...

But it took a kickoff return by Levonte Whitfield...

And a 50-yard pass that set up the winning score as part of a 21-point fourth quarter to turn Auburn's last chance with the football into something that looked like a failed attempt at a Cal-Stanford play to chase one more miracle...

It took an entire half for Winston to find Kelvin Benjamin as a receiver and, doing the math, Devonta Freeman only got to run the ball 11 times in the entire game.

"Fortunate" is a word I would use as an alum to determine what happened at the Rose Bowl for Florida State fans. And with Tre Mason, Nic Marshall, and a lot of people returning, I look at Auburn to do some strong things next season...

Even if, with this new playoff system, the arguing will only escalate since more teams will be left out of the loop when you even get to choose more to be involved in a four-team playoff...

A few non-game points to close:

The Rose Bowl has no concept how to deal with incoming crowds...

Ushers and "Yellow Jackets" hold up signs saying "Tunnel Full, Please Wait..." And it was a microcosm of the day... they actually use it to keep some kind of control from the moment the gates allow you into the stadium proper and attempt to get to your seat. And, this "crown control" actually kept a lot of people from missing a lot of the pre-game activity on the field.

Do not misunderstand... the Rose Bowl is a gorgeous venue for football...

They just need a lot of Ess-E-Cee ushers and state troopers to get you in and out in the fashion with which the rest of the world is accustomed...

Translation: "A timely fashion..."

And, the other note...

The beauty of coming to Southern California is getting to sample some of the best food ever...

The unifier of all faiths from the Rose Bowl...
In-n-Out Burger...

Our besieged and overrun In-n-Out was across the freeway from our hotel in Universal City. They didn't think that there would be a big crowd after the game, so they were understaffed...

Woefully so... but there were fans from both teams there- and the crew that keeps the Florida State appaloosa, Renegade, happy for his cross-country ride back to Tallahassee.

One FSU fan, obviously, dialed up on liquid courage wanted to know if there were any "National Championship winners" in the building. And yelling this question made him the envy of none...

A Seminoles fan waiting to place his own order in front of him turned and requested that he stay classy about the win...

"You don't want us compared to those 'Canes, do you?"

Eastern rivalries are never far from anyone, anywhere...
And that's football for you...

Enjoy the off-season people, National Signing Day is only a month or so away...
And it starts all over again...

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