Life begins anew in college football

When historians look at the 2013 season, they may see that Florida State returned to the top after 14 long years on the outside, that the Pacific-12 Conference provided the first threat to SEC hegemony in many seasons, that the traditional have-nots (Baylor, Duke, Michigan State, Stanford, UCF) morphed into haves, that "targeting" became a synonym for "good intention, bad rule."

They will see that when the year ended, Condoleezza Rice had a job in college football and Lane Kiffin did not, that USC employed four head coaches in a 12-week period and the Pelini who got fired was not the Nebraska coach.

That last point may hold the key to the season that concluded last week with Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher holding aloft the crystal football. The defining memories of the 2013 season center on who didn't win, what didn't happen and what came to an end.

In no way should that be construed as a negative, except, perhaps, in the crimson-and-white portions of Alabama, where disbelief over the end of the Iron Bowl reigns. Surely by now Auburn defensive back Chris Davis' 109-yard field goal return is the most replayed kick return in the history of the game, and deservedly so.

Auburn's 34-28 upset of No. 1 Alabama not only ended the Crimson Tide's two-year reign atop the sport, it propelled the Tigers onto the national stage, within sports and without. Davis' Kick Six rendered obsolete the Prayer at Jordan-Hare that Auburn wide receiver Ricardo Louis gathered in two weeks earlier, giving Auburn a stunning 43-38 victory over its other archrival, Georgia.

Davis' return against Alabama cemented Auburn in our collective memory, and yet the Tigers lost the BCS National Championship Game to the Seminoles 34-31 on a touchdown pass with 13 seconds to play (defensive back beaten: Chris Davis).

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