MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Look, you don’t want me to write about this Orange Bowl. You don’t want to hear about it if you didn’t see it. You definitely don’t want to hear more about it if you saw it. (You watched the whole thing? Was it raining outside? Do you not get HBO? The Internet?)
Let’s talk about something else. The fiscal cliff. New Year’s resolutions. Kim and Kanye’s baby. Anything.
All right, then.
Florida State and Northern Illinois played a football-like substance Tuesday night, bleeding into Wednesday morning. The final score was 31-10. It wasn’t that close. Neither was it that far apart. This game twisted space and time, but not into a pretty shape, like one of those origami cranes. It was more like a dirt clod.
Oh, FSU had the 31.
Northern Illinois had the 10, and to paraphrase the manager in “Bull Durham,” how did they ever get to 10? If you made a film of all the passes NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch overthrew, one-hopped or thumped off his receivers’ heads, it would be longer than the game itself. No, I’m not sure how that could be true. But it is.
This was not all Lynch’s fault, because the NIU game plan called for him to repeatedly run into the middle of the FSU defense. In practice, this resembled a stuntman diving into a cement mixer. Lynch had one run that went 22 yards. His other 22 runs totaled 22 yards. At least there was some symmetry.
I don’t want any of this, or the score, to give you the impression that Florida State played a great game. FSU is beautiful and talented and occasionally dumb as a stump, like a male model who struts down the street and into a light pole.
Quarterback E.J. Manuel threw pass after beautiful pass out into the flats, as if casting for bonefish. The Seminoles would get 40 or 50 yards downfield that way. Then they’d get stuffed on a reverse, or trip over their own shoes, or doink a field goal off the upright. Fullback Lonnie Pryor (the game’s MVP) had 134 yards rushing on five carries, which sounds great, until you think: They gave him only five carries?
So this is where we should stop and talk about the fiscal cliff. By which I mean, the BCS. (Hey, I tried.) A lot of punditeers (notably ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit) said before the game that Northern Illinois, coming out of the Mid-American Conference, with its biggest win over Kent State, didn’t belong in a BCS bowl. Well, Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Oklahoma all finished ahead of FSU in the final BCS standings, but because of BCS rules and conference tie-ins, FSU got in ahead of all of them. Both teams benefited from the same rules. FSU was three touchdowns better Tuesday night. But national championship games have been blowouts, too.
I should mention, under the conditions of the Fairness Doctrine, that there were a few moments during this Orange Bowl when there was actual entertainment and drama and stuff. FSU went up 17-3 early in the third quarter, and that felt like such a big gap that some fans were already leaving. (The Calder Casino, with a promise of better action, is right down the street from Sun Life Stadium.) But Lynch threw a beautiful deep pass (!) for a 55-yard gain from his own 8, and then he had that 22-yard run, and he finished it off with an 11-yard TD pass to Martel Moore, and all of a sudden it was 17-10.
And then … the onside kick! And NIU recovered! I swear, at that moment the whole stadium (and especially the press box) awoke from a deep slumber. NIU got all the way down to the FSU 23. Somewhere, the music from “Hoosiers” started up.
It was third and 8. Lynch dropped back, dodged the rush, rolled right, far right, way right … threw down the sideline … and FSU’s Terrence Brooks intercepted the pass. NIU never got that close again.
None of this is a complaint. In fact, it’s exactly what’s great about sports. It’s a story you read as it’s being written. Sometimes you get Hemingway; sometimes you get a toddler who skips the story and eats the crayons. FSU-NIU was more of the crayon-eating genre.
It was football, and for that we should be thankful. But there’s no need to speak of this again.
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Questions? Comments? Challenges? Taunts? You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tommytomlinson. The halftime show starred country singer Jake Owen. I was really hoping it was Jewish country singer Jay Cohen.