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Best of 2013: TSN.ca looks back at the year in college football

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TSN.ca Staff
12/24/2013 11:46:57 AM
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As 2013 winds to a close, TSN.ca looks back at the stories and moments that made the year memorable. TSN.ca's writing staff reflects on the best college football moments from the past 12 months including an unforgettable Iron Bowl, the rise of Famous Jameis and a certain catfishing debacle.

The Rise of Famous Jameis

By: Mike Hetherington

Florida State's redshirt freshman quarterback, Jameis Winston, was the story of the NCAA football season.

Winston led the Seminoles to a perfect 13-0 record during the season and berth in the BCS National Championship game with a first place BCS ranking.

With 38 touchdowns, 3,820 yards passing and 10 interceptions, "Famous Jameis" (as he's become known) became the youngest player to ever win the Heisman trophy and became just the second ever - and second consecutive - freshman to win the trophy.

The Seminoles defeated third-ranked Clemson, seventh-ranked Miami and 20th-ranked Duke all by at least 24 points.

Winston's off-field situation kept him the headlines throughout the week during the season as well. He was investigated for an alleged sexual assault that took place in 2012. In the end, no charges were filed and the case was closed just four days before Heisman votes were due.

He finishes 2013 as the nation's top-rated passer (190.1) and with a strong championship game, he could become the record holder for passer rating in a season (191.78 - Russell Wilson, 2011).

Famous Jameis now turns his eyes to becoming a national champion and become the second ever two-time Heisman winner in 2014. If he does, he'll make this list again.

The Best Day in College Football ever!

By: Ben Fisher

...Well, maybe not ever; but certainly the best day in recent memory.

Saturday, November 30 "Rivalry Weekend" gave fans two of the most exciting games, and craziest finishes, of the year.

It started at the Big House in Michigan where the Wolverines were taking on Ohio State, the fiercest rivalry in college sports north of the Mason-Dixon Line, looking to salvage their mediocre season while at the same time ruin the Buckeyes hopes of a National Championship.

The schools went shot for shot in running up the total score to more than 80 points with less than a minute remaining, and that's when the real fun began.

Down 41-40 and facing an extra point to send the game to overtime, Michigan head coach Brady Hoke instead opted to try a two-point conversion for the win.

Buckeyes defensive back Tyvis Powell intercepted Michigan's two-point try with just 32 seconds left on the clock, effectively preserving Ohio State's undefeated season and BCS Championship hopes (for another week at least!)

But college football fans didn't have long to dissect Hoke's decision, because 800 miles south of Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn Tigers were engaged in another instant classic. Even more was on the line in this equally heated rivalry.

The back and forth tilt was a must-see, but what happened as time expired will live on in infamy at Auburn.

Deadlocked at 28 with just one second left on the clock, Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban opted for a 57-yard field goal attempt knowing his perfect season, National Title hopes, and reputation as one of the greatest college football coaches of all-time was on the line.

The kick fell short however, and that's when Auburn capitalized. Senior cornerback Chris Davis returned the missed field goal more than 100 yards for a dramatic touchdown and the win.

That victory paved the way for Auburn's inclusion in the BCS National Championship (Jan. 6 against Florida State) and led to as many questions about Saban's late-game decision as Hoke's earlier in the day, if not more.

It also led to this man losing his mind.

Four Overtimes Later: Penn State vs. Michigan

By: Mike Hetherington

On a Saturday in mid-October Penn State hosted 18th ranked unbeaten Michigan. The two teams battled for over four hours in front of 100,000 people, most of whom, complying with the Penn State planned white-out.

Down seven points in the fourth quarter, Penn State completed a four play 80-yard touchdown drive to tie the game 34-34 with 27 seconds left.

After Penn State's kicker Sam Ficken missed his kick in the first overtime period, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Michigan would kick a field goal and continue their perfect season. However, kicker Brendan Gibbons had his kick blocked.

On the first play of third overtime Penn State made another mistake, Allen Robinson fumbled the ball on a reserve play. After a fumble recovery, Michigan was once again a field goal away from victory.

Gibbons lined up again, this time from 33-yards away, and missed his kick wide left. He grabbed his facemask in anger and watched as his offence lined up for a fourth overtime period.

Four plays later, Gibbons connected on a 40-yard field goal and with another defensive stop the Wolverines would finally have a victory.

Penn State coach Bill O'Brien decided four overtimes were enough and gambled by keeping his offence on the field on fourth-and-one on the Michigan 16-yard line, his faith in the offence was rewarded with a three-yard run by running back Bill Belton. Four plays after his crucial conversion, Belton scored a two-yard touchdown to finally end the longest game in the history of the Big Ten conference.

The Manti Te'o hoax

By: Isaac Owusu

Nobody expected that media sensational of being "catfished" to be taken seriously outside of MTV, until it did.

On January 16th Deadspin published an investigative piece surrounding Manti Te'o that was so eye-opening that it was hard to believe.

The piece described how Notre Dame star linebacker and Heisman runner-up was caught in the prank, being in a fictional online romantic relationship. Te'o claimed to have long distance relationship with girlfriend Lennay Kekua who he had believed to have died on Sept. 11, 2012.

What followed was almost too uncomfortable to witness. Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick held an awkward press conference and Te'o went public with his vehement denials of making her up. He claimed that rather he was pranked by a man named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.

The saga went as far as to have Te'o stiitng on the couch with Katie Couric to explain his side of the story, and Tuiasosopo on Dr. Phil to explain his.

In the aftermath, Te'o fell to 38th overall on draft day, getting taken by the San Diego Chargers, the second middle linebacker drafted, behind Alec Ogletree.

Te'o has had a modest rookie season, making his regular season debut in Week 4 after battling early injuries.

Freshman Phenom Myles Jack: 72 tackles, seven rushing touchdowns

By: Mike Hetherington

UCLA true freshman Myles Jack was recruited as a four-star outside linebacker. He racked up 72 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble in 12 regular season games.

However it wasn't the defensive statistics that amazed fans this season, but his offensive plays.

In the eighth game of the season, Jack debuted in the backfield for the Bruins and rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown on six, yes six, carries. He also had eight tackles on defence and a fumble recovery as UCLA beat Arizona.

One week later against Washington Jack rushed 13 times for 59 yards, scoring a ridiculous four touchdowns.

Jack rushed 16 times for 86 yards against Arizona State adding another touchdown and a long of 37 yards.

In UCLA's season finale Jack got just two carries but made the most of them with a three-yard touchdown run. Jack also recovered a Trojans fumble in the fourth quarter to seal the Bruins first victory at USC since 1997.

Jack shocked college football with his performances and may have become the best two-way player in a time when the two-way players simply don't exist.

Best of 2013: NCAA (Photo: TSN.ca)

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(Photo: TSN.ca)
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