MT. VERNON —
I almost turned it off.
I can't really blame anyone who did.
The Florida St.-Auburn BCS Championship was headed for a rout in the first half.
Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston was wildly flinging the ball all over the field and not in a good way. Auburn jitter bug running back Tre Mason was sawing through the Seminoles vaunted defense.
It all led to a 21-3 Tigers lead late in the first half. I figured if Auburn scored another touchdown I would give up on the game and focus my attention on video games or a good book.
None of that happened.
Florida State's offense rallied together and went in for a late touchdown in the first half. The score gave the Seminoles a lifeline.
After halftime, Florida State continued clicking on offense and chipped away at the Tigers lead. The game got more interesting as the Seminoles defense clamped down as well.
Midway through the third quarter and into the fourth, everyone watching should have known they were involved with something special.
Florida State was being pushed for one of the few times all season. The Seminoles were trying to rebound, rally and win a title to polish off a perfect season. Auburn on the other hand experienced several serendipitous endings to get to the championship. In the back of any fan's mind was the question – were we in for an inconceivable ending? Would it match Auburn's win in the Iron Bowl or the Georgia tipped pass that dropped down to a Tigers' receiver.
In the end, Florida State's comeback (times two) was kind of conventional but extremely exciting. There weren't any Auburn-sized miracles, just one of the largest big game college football comebacks of all time.
The Seminoles got their first lead since a first quarter field goal after a 100-yard kickoff return. Auburn answered with a score of its own to go up 31-27 with 1:19 left.
Then everyone's eyes turned to Winston. He completed a short pass. He followed with another short completion, but this time his receiver slipped between a pair of Auburn tacklers and broke free for a yard-eating gain. Winston finished off the late-game heroics with a passing touchdown with just 13 ticks left on the clock.
College football like most things has its flaws if you concentrate and pick away at it. I don't like that fans have to wait about a month until the big game. Then once the big games arrives it hardly lives up to the hype.
This time it did. Fans who stayed up late, which was around midnight in the East, were treated to a fantastic finish.
One that won't soon be forgotten. And I'm one fan who's glad he stuck with the game and didn't switch it off. Switching off would have meant I missed out on a little slice of sports history.
Paul Hines is the sports editor at the Register-News.