As a college football fan, what more could you have asked for this past weekend?
Rivalry week is always billed as "can't miss television," but this weekend, that was a vast understatement.
In the Southeastern Conference alone, rivalry contests changed the national title landscape, while Michigan and Ohio State gave fans a final-minute thriller.
Closer to home, we had the often-neglected and slighted Georgia Tech take on big, bad Georgia, but a hot start left the Yellow Jackets exasperated after giving up a 20-point first-half lead.
But, before we get into a few of the rivalries that impacted the national football picture, I was burned this weekend...by one of our own, no less.
Sitting in Kenan Stadium watching North Carolina and Duke kick off for the 100th time, I got to see first hand the impact of former Alcovy standout DeVon Edwards. With Duke down 15-10 immediately after a UNC score, Edwards returned a kickoff 99 yards, giving the Blue Devils a 17-15 lead. Duke never surrendered the lead after Edwards' return, defeating the Tar Heels for the second consecutive year to hold on to the Victory Bell and send the Blue Devils into the ACC title game.
I want to thank Edwards for providing me with something to fill up our pages today, but DeVon, can you please only do it during the other 11 scheduled regular season games?
Kidding aside, Edwards' return was part of what makes rivalry week special. Something that you weren't expecting always happens.
I doubt many, including Alabama coach Nick Saban, expected a 100-plus yard field goal return to be the nail in the coffin of his dynasty dreams.
Usually, when games are as hyped as the Alabama vs. Auburn game this past weekend, the actual result falls short.
Not this time, however.
I got back home from Chapel Hill in time to catch most of the second half of the Iron Bowl. I was sitting downstairs with my brother, who was casually surfing the web, when, with one second left, the Tide's kick left the foot of freshman kicker Adam Griffith.
The kick looked good, but it started to veer right and fall short. Then, there it was, in the hands of Auburn return man Chris Davis.
Davis ran out of the end zone, and then, things got interesting.
A block here, a missed tackle there.
I told my brother to look up. Look what was happening. It was a moment in sports you don't forget.
Like Vince Young’s Rose Bowl run or Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary, Davis' return was felt by the entire college football community.
That it came in the biggest rivalry game of the season - that was just icing on the cake.
Finally, we have the most recent edition of Good, Old-Fashioned Hate.
I bet many here didn't expect a 20-0 first-half lead for the Yellow Jackets, despite the Bulldogs being without starting quarterback Aaron Murray.
On the way back from the UNC game, I checked the score and saw that Tech had, what appeared to be, an insurmountable lead. The Yellow Jackets' offense lends itself to maintaining large leads, and I thought maybe injuries finally had caught up with Georgia.
But then, Todd Gurley happened. I'd seen Gurley play in high school - he was a big-time recruit in North Carolina whom everyone wanted. He'd shown his dominance already, but against Georgia Tech, when his team needed it the most, Gurley was unstoppable, scoring four touchdowns, including three on the ground in the fourth quarter.
Gurley finished with 122 total rushing yards - a highlight performance. I know many Georgia fans won't say that the Tech game is a big one for them, but Gurley's performance allowed the Bulldogs to save face during a disheartening season.
So with the country’s annual rivalries renewed, all that's left for fans this year is a handful of conference championship games and bowl season.
It's sad to see the football year come to a close, but at least rivalry weekend gave us a reason to remember why we love the game, with a few unforgettable finishes sprinkled in.