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By Ben Troupe
SouthernPigskin.com
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Former Florida Gator All-American Ben Troupe looks back at the college football season.

What's going on, everybody?  It's your boy representing Swainsboro, Georgia, checking in for the latest edition of the greatest and most dangerous blog on the planet, "Troupe Talk".  I feel by now that we have grown together throughout the course of this season, so I feel comfortable calling you guys my family, even if you do root for that team out of Athens, Georgia.  Hey, if i didnt take a stab at the Bulldogs, I would not be able to call myself a true Gator. As always, if this is your first time, welcome to an experience like no other experience, and if you are a repeat visitor, welcome back.  Let's get right into it.

The college football season has come and gone, and it was nothing short of amazing because of how it started and the even better way which it ended.  Going into the season all eyes were on the Alabama Crimson Tide and if they would be able to capture a record-setting three national championships in a row.  That is a lot of pressure on any team, but when your coached by Nick Saban, arguably the best coach in college football and definitely one of the best to ever do it, then those lofty expectations were definitely doable. 

The best part about any season is the old faces and the emergence of the up-and-coming superstars; the usual suspects of college football passing the torch to the new faces that wwill take the game into the future.  From A.J. McCarron, Tajh Boyd, Braxton Miller, Aaron Murray, and the electrifying Johnny Manziel, we moved to the young guns, Teddy Bridgewater and the Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston.  Every team started off the season as every season does - with that optimism that this will be the year that they will be the last team standing.  Johnny Manziel had the entire sports world at a stand-still because of the season he had last year. Everyone was intrigued to see if he could put together another Heisman Trophy campaign this year.  I feel as though he more than lived up to the hype, which is extremely difficult to do in this day and age, but he more than solidified his place in college football history and the record books. He will truly be missed as he takes his talents to the NFL. 

Jadaveon Clowney was supposed to rewrite the record books and completely change the way in which defensive ends play the game.  That didn't happen to any degree this year because these offenses and offensive coordinators had two years of tape to gameplan against Mr. Clowney. It proved to be too much for him, and he wasn't able to live up to his potential this year because he had so much attention given to him on and off the field. His talents will still be utilized immensely on the next level, though, which will actually work out great for him seeming as though he can't seem to drive the speed limit these days.  He will be able to pay those tickets now. 

In Athens, the Georgia Bulldogs thought that the combination of Aaron Murray returning for his senior season and a powerful running attack would be enough to finally silence all the doubters, and Mark Richt finally would win the big one and make it to a national championship.  The only problem was that they had to play defense. Poor defense was something they weren't able to overcome all year.  Well, if you know anything about the Bulldogs and their tradition, you would know that it does not include winning the big game; only enough games to make it to a bowl.  They definitely kept that tradition alive.  I just couldn't resist, because if Florida cannot win, then Georgia will have to suffer through my criticism, or feedback as I like to call it.  Feedback just sounds better.  Especially if it's the truth.

Did someone say the University of Florida or was that just my inner-thoughts speaking to me?  I guess it was just me. Well, since we are on the subject of the greatest university ever created, let's dive into its season, or lack thereof.  Coming off that 11-2 season in 2012, everyone around the nation - correction, everyone around the world - couldn't wait to see what type of product Florida would put on the field this year.  Unfortunately, our product didn't sell the way we intended, and we had to go back to the drawing board and re-think our strategy.  I understand that injuries are a part of the game, but I felt as though the injury bug bit the Gators far too many times this year.  I have never seen a team get decimated with injuries like Florida was last year.  It proved to be too much to overcome and, well, you saw the end result.  As Forrest Gump would say: "that's all I have to say about that."  Trust and believe, though, just like the New Orleans Saints proved this year, you can't keep a great team down long, and we will be back.  I repeat, we will be back and we are going to remember everybody who tried to kick us when we were down. Know that we do hold grudges and we will get the last laugh.

One of the best stories of the year were the Auburn Tigers and the season they were able to put together.  No one thought that Auburn would make a bowl game, let alone go to the national championship and almost pull off one of the biggest upsets in recent memory.  Gus Malzaln coached out of his mind with his up-tempo running attack that left most defenses gasping for air and totally out of their element.  Tre Mason put up some incredible numbers and even broke Bo Jackson's single season yardage record.  The Tigers, or War Wagles, or whatever their mascots name is, provided three of the best games of the year.  They had two of the greatest finishes you will ever see in football history, but the fairy tale came up a little short on the biggest stage of the year. Auburn has nothing to hang its heads about and should be extremely proud of its accomplishments, which should serve as motivation for next season.  Worst to first is an understatement as it pertains to the Tigers because, let's face it, the nation watched them silence all doubt and put everyone in college on notice. Much respect to them because they earned it.

Florida State put the university back on the map by going undefeated during the regular season and winning the national championship, led by Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.  It has been a long time since the Florida State Seminoles won anything worth mentioning, but that was all put to rest this year.  Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles came to play.  They set records on offense for points scored, and the defense made life tough on every offense that it faced. They were loaded at every position and proved to be too much for every team they faced to handle. It was an exciting time in Tallahassee, and they are still celebrating right now.

The best story coming out of Tallahassee was the emergence of Jameis Winston.  This guy, from the first snap he took against Pittsburgh, showed that he was ready for the spotlight.  It has been a long time since a guy has been able to do some of the things he was able to do in his first year playing college football.  His command of the offense and his respect for and from his teammates was anything short of magical throughout the season.  His energy and humble approach is what most young players take time to develop.  Like I said, he is poised far beyond his years, and the future looks very bright for the Seminoles for years to come.

Congratulations to Coach Charlie Strong for becoming the new head football coach of the Texas Longhorns.  During my time at the University of Florida, Coach Strong was the defensive coordinator.  He was, and still is an excellent coach, and the players, coaches and fans are getting a great coach and an even better person. 

The national championship in Pasadena, California, was nothing short of breathtaking.  The game lived up to the billing with the Auburn Tigers taking the Florida State Seminoles to the brink.  It took all the Seminoles had to pull off the victory.  The greatest thing about the game was the unsung heroes who helped get the win.  It had everything from fake punts, to kickoff returns for touchdowns, to overcoming adversity to get the win.  Jameis Winston was not his usual self, and he had to battle through a rough start and just keep plugging away at it.  He showed resolve and the ability to not play his best game and still help his team get the victory.  The stage was set on the final drive of the game, and Winston was able to come up big in the biggest moment and walk away with the trophy.  This game rekindled my love for college football and made me become a fan all over again. 

After the game, Winston, who had just played in a hard-fought game, was out of breath, but still had to do a postgame interview.  His comments showed humility and showed why he is the ultimate team guy.  A.J. McCarron's mom had some criticism for the young man, which she more than regrets now.  I bring up her comments to say this: people are envious and jealous of certain people's success, and it showed its ugly face through her comments.  She later deleted her tweets because, as the great Herm Edwards once said, "it's not what you type; it's when you push the send button."  It was handled by Winston with class, as always.  The young guy is a role model to many, and continues to grow up in front of our eyes.  I am a big fan and pray that this guy continues to blossom, except for one Saturday of the year. 

Well, my Troupeaholics, it has come to that unpleasant time of the evening when we must part ways, but know that I will be right back next week.  This college football season has come and gone, but know that I have a lot on my mind, and you will get to feel it all year long.  Be sure to come back to Southern Pigskin to check out my blog, "Troupe Talk", the greatest and most dangerous blog on the planet, and leave your boy a comment.  Understand that in life you do not have to be perfect; you just have to be willing.  Sometimes the biggest opponent is the moment, so when that moment comes, leap with faith and watch impossible become possible right before your eyes.  Two fingers.

Ben Troupe - Troupe played tight end for the Florida Gators from 2000-2003, and earned first-team All-SEC recognition and first-team All-American honors from ESPN, Rivals and Sports Illustrated as a senior. After a standout college career, Troupe was selected 40th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft, the first pick of the Tennessee Titans that spring. Currently, Troupe is a representative for the NFL Ambassadors via the College Outreach Program and the USA Football Youth and High School Program while also serving as an assistant master trainer for Head's Up coaching initiative. Troupe can be heard on ESPN Coastal's "Three & Out" with B.J. Bennett and Kevin Thomas.