Best player in BCS title game doesn’t go by Jameis – and wasn’t on the winning team

Posted: 01/07/2014 in college football
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Seemed like most of the college football season, we were told Boston College’s Andre Williams was the best running back in the country.

Of course, those of us who live in the West knew that wasn’t true – it was either Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey or Washington’s Bishop Sankey who deserved that title. But you know, the East Coast falls asleep way too early to catch on that USC isn’t the only school West of Texas who participates in college football.

But we all know better now that the BCS title game has been played. It sure isn’t Williams, the Doak Walker Award winner. It sure isn’t Carey, the best running back in Arizona history. And it isn’t even Sankey, who has the looks of a future bell-cow back in the NFL.

Auburn’s Tre Mason is the best running back in college football. By far.

Jameis Winston may have produced the game-ending drive to give Florida State a 34-31 victory over Auburn in Monday’s title game at the Rose Bowl but he wasn’t close to being the star of the contest. That title belongs to Mason, who bludgeoned the Seminoles’ stingy defense for 195 rushing yards. (see stellar game recap here — http://sltrib.sportsdirectinc.com/football/ncaaf-boxscores.aspx?page=/data/NCAAF/results/2013-2014/recap41986.html)

Winston may have the Heisman Trophy on his mantle – wait, do college kids even have mantles? – and will rightfully have his game-winning touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin replayed over and over. But the most enduring memory of the final BCS game will forever be Mason’s scintillating 37-yard scoring run with 1:19 to play.

If Mason wasn’t so good, he might have been tackled on the play. If Mason gets tackled, perhaps Auburn works the clock down and scores a touchdown and Winston has no time to orchestrate a final drive.

But Mason was too good and so, so darn good that he somehow was still going strong on his 34th carry of the game.

He bulled through a tackle attempt by Florida State’s overmatched Jalen Ramsey at the 20-yard line and sailed into the end zone to finish off a scoring run worthy of being the game-winning points of the biggest contest of the season.

Watch the play again. Poor Ramsey couldn’t have tackled Mason if he had O.J. Simpson’s knife, George Zimmerman’s guns or an American tank at his disposal. No chance.

Mason finished the season with an Auburn-record 1,816 rushing yards. He surpassed the school mark of former Heisman winner Bo Jackson.

Repeat – the great Bo Jackson!

Perhaps the oddest part of the entire evening is that Mason felt he let Auburn fans down. Yes, really.

“We wanted to have the biggest turnaround in college football,” Mason said afterward. “I want to apologize for not fulfilling that. I tried to do everything to give us the best chance to win the national championship and I failed.”

Mason is only a junior but you have to figure that he will bypass his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. Running back is the one position where it behooves a player to leave early as there is only so much pounding the body can take before it begins to break down.

One college game typically doesn’t alter a player’s draft stock all that much. NFL talent evaluators rely more on the overall body of work and the measurables as opposed to getting caught up in any single contest.

But when you are the very best player on the field in the BCS title game – and excel like Mason did in the most pressure-packed moments – it tends to elevate your status and people take notice.

Kind of like how the entire sporting world caught on Monday – when Tre Mason was the best football player on the Rose Bowl turf.

By far.

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