The holidays gave us some interesting stories in the world of NCAA football. First, the BCS Championship game lived up to its high billing. In what turned out to be a thrilling game of football, Heisman winner Jameis Winston left it until late to lead his Florida State Seminoles past Tre Mason and his Auburn side, becoming the first non-Southeastern Conference team to win the BCS Championship Bowl in eight seasons. Winston demonstrated exactly why he won the Heisman Trophy, throwing for 237 passing yards and two touchdowns. For college football’s best player, it was a tale of two halves. Winston struggled early on in the game, failing to put together cohesive drives. Going into the half, Florida State’s win probability was 18 percent according to ESPN Stats & Information. This was the lowest it had been all season. Winston, however, did his best to change that, coming up big when he was needed most. Winston proceeded to have an amazing fourth quarter, throwing one of his two touchdown passes within the last minute of play to complete the comeback for the Seminoles. Overshadowed in the loss, Tre Mason managed to set the second highest amount of rushing yards in a BCS Championship game with 195 rushing yards.
Despite the loss, the SEC proved that it is easily the strongest and deepest conference. Playing in ten bowls (the conference has 14 teams), SEC teams went on to win seven of them, with only the PAC-12 coming close with six bowl wins out of nine. Regardless of the championship win, the ACC as a whole remained one of the weaker conferences, garnering a meager 5-6 record while also posting a negative six point per game differential. Next season, expect the PAC-12 to be the main contender in terms of bowl wins. With Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Oregon State and Arizona State all retaining their starting quarterbacks and with seven of the top eight teams in the SEC losing their starting quarterbacks to the draft, it’s easy to imagine that change will be in the air for next season.
A story that almost rivals that of bowl season drama is that of — you guessed it! — none other than Johnny Manziel. Not to be kept out of the spotlight, the red-shirt sophomore decided to forego his last two seasons of eligibility so he could enter the 2014 NFL Draft. With so many teams such as Jacksonville and Houston plagued with woes in the quarterback position, it’s easy to see Manziel going early in the first round of the draft. However, the NFL is a league that relies heavily on pocket passers, as shown by the examples of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. When asked whether or not he believed that Johnny Manziel had the arm to succeed in the NFL, Herm Edwards, the former Eagles player and Jets head coach answered concisely, “He does. These are the questions that were thrust upon Russell Wilson when he came out. Can he see over the pocket? He might be too short. I think this guy has a lot of talent.” As one of Manziel’s strengths is rushing, it would be interesting to see where he fits in and how he performs in the NFL. Manziel seemed to be preparing for the different style of the NFL by limiting his high-flying playing style and playing a more reserved, pocket passing role. It still remains to be seen whether or not he can go all the way with this adjustment, but provided that the offense is built around his assets, Manziel could be a future NFL star.