Sunday, October 19, 2014

Why college football beats the NFL, Vol. 2,356

Faithful followers of the Blob -- hi, you two -- know by now its position on college football vs. the pro version: College football wins, and it ain't close. And there any number of reasons why.

Here's one: Florida State 31, Notre Dame 27.

Except that it went the other way this time, it was nearly a carbon copy of the Poll Bowl of 1993, when Shawn Wooden intercepted Charlie Ward in the end zone in Notre Dame Stadium to seal a win for the No. 2 Irish over the No. 1 Seminoles. This time it was No. 5 vs. No. 2, but a more fiercely competed and impeccably played game you won't see this year, Sundays (and Mondays ... and Thursdays ...) included.

The only thing that soured it was the final score really should have read Florida State 31, Notre Dame 27, Zebras 1. That a flag barged into the middle of the proceedings down at the end was a crime against drama, and also a good argument for jail time for the perpetrators.

I've watched the replay half a dozen times, and I don't know if it was offensive pass interference. The Notre Dame guy drives the Florida State guy, and maybe he's holding him and maybe he isn't. But the Florida State guy jams him at the line and appears to be holding him, too. In which case, you call it a draw and keep the laundry in your pocket -- especially with the game on the line.

In that instance, and on that huge a stage, you don't interfere in the play of the game unless it's an absolute clear-cut deal. And this was anything but clear-cut.

But the flag came out, the Notre Dame touchdown was called back, and a great ending to a great game was ruined. And the real shame was, it all but obscured everything that shouldn't have been obscured about this one.

Such as:

* Four times, Notre Dame led. Four times, Florida State responded. The analogy's a tired one, but it really was like a heavyweight fight: Punch, counter-punch. 

* Everett Golson threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns in the biggest game so far of 2014. But Jameis Winston was even better. With no running game to speak of -- Florida State rushed for just 45 yards -- and Notre Dame continually coming after him with all-out blitzes, Winston was nearly flawless in the second half, completing 15-of-16 passes and driving the Seminoles to three scores.

Under the circumstances, it was one of the best halves of football a college quarterback has ever had.

* Florida State won, but in an odd way, so did Notre Dame. By playing the defending national champions nearly dead even -- and even dominating much of the time -- it made a compelling case for one of the four playoff spots. If the Irish can play with the 'Noles, they can play with anyone in the top four.

This isn't 2012, when they were simply overmatched once they got in against Alabama. Their athletes are clearly as good as anyone's now.

And college football?

Never better.

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