FOX Sports Insider
Thank you for the reminder, Jalen Milroe, even if it only served to tell us what we knew already: that the time of year reserved for wild, dramatic, mind-boggling feats of college football unexpectedness is firmly upon us.
The Alabama quarterback’s last-gasp wonder throw on a fourth-and-goal from the 31, and Isaiah Bond’s sure-handed catch in a far-flung corner of the Auburn end zone last weekend, served a few purposes.
It sealed the Iron Bowl for Alabama and broke not only Auburn hearts but maddened everyone hoping for a rare Bama-free College Football Playoff, which may still happen, yet was all but guaranteed for a fleeting moment.
It also kept the urgent countdown to crown the final champion of the CFP’s four-team era fully loaded, with six teams in realistic contention and two more lurking. And it set the table for this weekend’s mouthwatering collection of conference title games that will determine the makeup of the eventual field.
Most of all, it reminded us all that college football’s most exhilarating time window is alive and well and truly open. The sport’s leading lights don’t cruise through the regular season, there’s always far too much at stake for that.
But through the game’s time-honored past, this is the part of the year when the best stand tallest and things get truly spicy as the stakes rise, while the greats and opportunists do special things that tilt games and leave us all open-mouthed.
Which brings us back to Milroe and his wonder throw. It is tempting to see miracle moments and believe that they’re a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, but, in most cases, they’re not.
Indeed, a conversation this week with Milroe’s coach at Tompkins High School in Katy, Texas, revealed he’d had a similar play – as a sophomore no less – in a crucial state playoff game against powerhouse Beaumont West Brook.
“Some guys just have that in them, the ability and the confidence to take what looks like a miracle and just execute it,” McVey told me. “It doesn’t happen by accident. That comes from years of work. Jalen was always the kind of guy who would do a drill and if he felt he could do it one tiny bit better, he would just stay for as long as it took to perfect it.”
Jalen Milroe throws a go-ahead TD, Terrion Arnold follows up with an interception to seal Alabama’s victory over Auburn
Jalen Milroe threw a go-ahead TD with just 32 seconds left and Terrion Arnold followed it up with an interception to seal the Alabama Crimson Tide’s victory over Auburn.
Let’s be real, with all the possible permutations and ramifications to come from Friday and Saturday, the playoff may as well have started already, with no one able to be comfortably certain they have any margin for error.
Georgia – who has won 29 straight – doesn’t have any wiggle room, despite having spent the season at the top of the rankings. An SEC championship defeat to Alabama would still put them in peril of being bounced from the top four. The same goes for Michigan, who takes on Iowa in an intriguing Big Ten title game (8 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app). That game will surely feature lots of emotion with the return from suspension of Wolverines head coach John Harbaugh.
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With four teams at 12-0 and a crew of hungry interlopers seeking to spoil their party, it could be that the last week of action before the final four-team playoff could produce the best drama we’ve seen in the CFP’s 10-year history.
That drama starts Friday night with the last championship of the Pac-12 as we know it kicks off, before Saturday’s tantalizing slate in the Big Ten, SEC, Big 12 and ACC.
Georgia, Michigan, Washington and Florida State hold the keys sitting with unblemished records. While Oregon and Texas might feel like they have the juiciest opportunity. After last week, Alabama still has a shot. Ohio State, meanwhile, can only sit and watch nervously, rooting for complete upheaval.
We won’t know exactly what the championship weekend before a 12-team postseason will look like, but naturally, it isn’t going to be exactly like this one.
This isn’t a call to enjoy this while it lasts, because a playoff expansion will be big and bold and is probably overdue.
Just enjoy it for what it is instead; a blockbuster weekend – and the time when college football’s finest players come to shine.
Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.
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