Holy f*cking football, Batman. There might be something to this whole “rivalry week” thing.
The day started with a one-point victory in one of North American sports’ two or three biggest rivalries. “The Game” between Ohio State and Michigan included a 58-yard touchdown run from Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller, a massive brawl that led to three ejections and a ballsy last second two-point conversion, which failed, to end the game and hand the win to the No. 3 Buckeyes, 42-41. And it wasn’t even CLOSE to being the most exciting game of the day.
Where were you when you saw the ending to the best Iron Bowl in history, when No. 4 Auburn beat No. 1 Alabama 34-28? Maybe even one of the best regular season games in history? Make no mistake: that was one of the best regular season games ever and almost certainly the most stunning ending since Stanford’s band decided it belonged on the field.
Let’s start with the ending. If Nick Saban was going to lose this year, it was only going to be because Nick Saban willed it, damn it. And what is a more Nick Saban way of losing a game than fighting tooth and nail for a second (A SECOND!) to be put back on the clock, only to watch that second turn around and stab you in the gut*.
Nick Saban got his second and ‘Bama took the field for one last shot at the end zone. But then Saban Saban’ed himself again and sent the field gold unit out instead. When you’re the smartest man in the world, sending out a freshman kicker with two kicks under his belt in the biggest Iron Bowl of all time can seem like a sound decision.
Funnily enough, the kick actually looked good for a moment, or at least it did to me. It was pretty close to being through the uprights but it just didn’t have the distance. We all know what happened next.
Prior to that Jason Statham movie of an ending, the Iron Bowl was still an all-time classic. Auburn’s punter, Dee Ford, pinned the Tide on its own goal line two series in a row, only to see AJ McCarron gun it to Amari Cooper for 50+ yards twice in a row. The second McCarron-to-Cooper bomb became the longest play in Iron Bowl history until well, you know.
The Tide may have lost and AJ McCarron can probably kiss his sympathy Heisman goodbye, but at least we got an epic game…and AJ got this:
Shots all around! Take us away, Charles:
– One last Iron Bowl bit. Nick Marshall had “STFU” on his wrist.
Look at Nick Marshall's wristband — hey does anybody out there know what "STFU" stands for? pic.twitter.com/R7mAvucHia
— SB Nation (@sbnation) November 30, 2013
Fitting for how the game ended.
– The OSU/Michigan game deserved better than to be eclipsed by an absolute barnburner but such is life. It looks like Ohio Governor John Kasich’s plan to eliminate the letter “M” worked as there is no “M” in “two-point conversion.” The real question is if Ohio State could somehow still be passed up for the BCS National Championship at 12-0. That 12-0 against a relatively weak Big Ten schedule may look suspect now, but with a Michigan State win it will be impossible to keep them out. If they lose, however, and Auburn takes care of business against Mizzou, then the Tigers will and should play Florida State in the NCG. If Florida State loses to Duke, however… Let’s just deal with all this next week.
Anyway, enjoy this for now, Buckeyes fans.
No caption required. pic.twitter.com/uPsZX8bG4b
— _ark Schwab (@MarkSchwab) November 30, 2013
– The Civil War definitely got lost in the OSU/Michigan/’Bama/Auburn madness, but it was still awesome. The Ducks nudged past the Beavers by one point, 36-35. Oregon’s season is utterly inconsequential at this point with no Pac-12 Championship, Rose Bowl or Championship game, but at least Mark Helfrich proved that he can coach at or near Chip Kelly’s level. A slightly disappointing season may actually encourage Marcus Mariota to come back for his junior season.
– Speaking of disappointing seasons… Bo Pelini had a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day on Friday. During Nebraska’s 38-17 loss against Iowa, Pelini finally decided just to give in to his baser instincts and do his best to justify all the mean things Deadspin says about him. Bravo, Coach! And again: welcome to the Big Ten.
Here’s a fun mean Pelini GIF from this weekend. Save for future disagreements you might have in internet comment sections.
– Is Georgia Tech sure Calvin Johnson doesn’t have one more year of eligibility?
Bad news: Paul Johnson can't die until he experiences every possible way to lose to Georgia. Good news: he's only got 2 or 3 left.
— sir broosk (@celebrityhottub) December 1, 2013
– Duke football deserves yet another round of applause for their remarkable season. The Blue Devils beat North Carolina 27-25 on Saturday. They are going to get absolutely trounced in the ACC Championship game, but still: good on y’all for a 10-2 regular season.
– Remember when Florida was ranked No. 10 at the beginning of the season? LOL, enjoy your 2012 USC Trojans Memorial Disappointment trophy, Gators.
– With Fresno State’s loss, No. 18 Northern Illinois officially moves into pole position as the Mid Majors’ last, best hope. Pay close attention to Northern Illinois and Central Florida’s BCS rankings over the next couple of weeks. Northern Illinois should be comfortably ahead of UCF this week; but for the Huskies to crash a BCS Bowl for the second year in a row, UCF will have to finish below No. 16 in the BCS rankings. Northern Illinois will play a feisty Bowling Green in the MAC championship, while UCF has already clinched the American conference.
– Weird stat of the week: All six of Mississippi State’s losses are against ranked opponents with a combined record of 58-10 record.
– Baylor has not responded well after falling out of the National Championship race, barely beating TCU 41-38. They’re like a fired Ron Burgundy, walking the streets of San Diego, drunk off milk.
– If college football had an NFL-style Rookie of the Year award, Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg would win it. That doesn’t mean he’d deserve it… But he’d win it.
* — For the rest of 2013 and most of 2014 “put a second back on the clock” is going to be a fun catchphrase to indicate that you screwed yourself over. “Yeah, man, things were going well with Catherine but then I put a second back on the clock and called her my ex-girlfriend’s name
Photos: (Top) Getty, (Charles Barkley) @JClem718 via Busted Coverage; GIFs: @SBNation, @CJZero