Florida State claimed their first national championship since the 1999 season and snapped the SEC's BCS title streak at seven. Photo: USA Today Sports
Talk about going out in style. The Bowl Championship Series may have saved its best batch of bowl games for the last year in existence. Before turning things over to the College Football Playoff the BCS served up five tremendous games, and the grand finale in the grandest stage there is in college football was no exception. Florida State, the team that lost the first ever BCS title game to an SEC team, was responsible for bringing an end to the SEC's streak of dominance with an exhilarating finish against Auburn. With the Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston leading his team to two touchdown drives in the clutch on his final two possessions of the season, there may have been no better way to put a lid on the BCS era.
This game had everything you could have wanted. The Heisman Trophy winner leading his team 80 yards for a championship-clinching touchdown. A 100-yard kickoff return to give Florida State their first lead of the game since it was 3-0 in the first quarter. Auburn's Tre Mason showing why he was one of the top running backs in the country with a touchdown run slightly reminiscent of a key run the last time Auburn played for the BCS championship. With the SEC's proud BCS title winning streak on the line, Auburn may have just simply run out of time. Florida State, faced with concerns about how they would handle being in a tight game after being the most dominant team from start to finish this season, answered with authority. Down 21-3 in the second quarter, the Seminoles rallied by outscoring the SEC champions 31-10 the rest of the way. Put all of that drama inside one of the best venues for college football, the Rose Bowl, and you could not have put together a much better grand finale.
The Seminoles, one of the nation's truly dominant programs at the beginning of the BCS era, took a while to get back to this level of play. Their return to glory started with a victory over BCS buster Northern Illinois in last season's Orange Bowl and was confirmed with their 2013 championship season leaving no doubt who the best team in the country was.
Next season the dawn of the College Football Playoff will be upon us. Four teams will be selected to participate in a four-team playoff, with national semifinal games being played in the current bowl structure and the winners facing off with each other the following week. The mathematics to determine a national championship pairing will be replaced by a selection committee to determine which four teams will be deemed worthy of a championship shot. Florida State and Auburn should each be considered teams capable of being selected for that, and a rematch of this game may not come as much of a surprise a year from now.
Whether the new format will be better or worse than the now defunct BCS system will be a topic for debate for another time. The BCS served its purpose. If the ultimate goal of the BCS was to pit the two best teams together and provide for the best possible bowl match-ups, the system overall worked well. It was not without flaws and certainly had a healthy share of critics, but it did go out in style.