It was not the finish that Auburn had scripted and certainly a loss that will sting for a while.
The Tigers controlled the lines of scrimmage from the outset and really looked like the better team for three quarters. However, in a strange twist of fate the tables would get turned on them in the quarter that had brought them so many memories. This was a great football game and in many ways could be the best of the BCS era considering all the dynamics leading up to it.
The setting was quite remarkable too with the backdrop being the Rose Bowl and beautiful Pasadena, Calif. It was amazing to be there and take it all in, and all the credit in the world goes to Florida State, however I can't help but think of a few key moments that could have and should have gone Auburn's way. These would have definitely changed the outcome.
- On the first series Auburn had a sure touchdown from Nick Marshall to Ricardo Louis. The ball was underthrown and it was dropped, equaling two no-no's. Against a great team you’re only going to get so many wide open looks and that was one.
- The missed field goal by Cody Parkey was very makeable. It was one that he should have hit and ultimately was the difference in the game. It was early enough not to linger too much on people's minds, but once again you only get so many opportunities against a great team.
- The Florida State fake punt was one that everyone credits changing the momentum of the game. In my opinion that was an easy call for Jimbo Fisher and FSU. Down 21, he had to roll the dice and Auburn should have been ready.
- Finally, I think the short pass to Rashad Greene on the last series cost Auburn the game at the end. It was a simple hitch route in which two defenders missed a tackle on the spot and allowed a big play. I don't think FSU would have had enough time to get the looks at the end zone they wanted without that huge play. At the end of the game you defend your end zone by being the deepest and the widest. I just cannot believe a short throw and catch would have resulted in such a big gainer with less than a minute to play.
This and That
- James Franklin needs to take the Penn State job. I have been very impressed as anyone with what he has done at Vanderbilt. In the coaching profession either your moving up or moving down and opportunities come when you least expect them. Just look at Charlie Strong and what a tough decision it was to leave Louisville, the school that gave him his first job. I am sure Franklin would feel similar emotions, but in the end he should take Penn State if it’s offered to him.
- I think Auburn is the favorite to win the SEC next season. I know it’s early and so much can change, but assuming Tre Mason goes pro they still return plenty of weapons on offense. The defense will be in Year 2 under Ellis Johnson and I expect Carl Lawson to replace the production of senior Dee Ford. There is no reason to believe Gus Malzahn’s offense is going to slow down and with quarterback questions at Alabama and LSU, I like Auburn to repeat as SEC Champions.
- Next season is the four-team playoff and if it was in place this season the commissioner said it would have sent Auburn out to the Rose Bowl to face Alabama. FSU would have squared off with Michigan State in the Sugar Bowl. This tells me two things: 1) Two-loss champions of a conference would fall behind a one-loss team. This means they are putting value in overall record. 2) It will be important to be the top seed so you don't have to travel.