At the University of Nike on Saturday in overtime on national TV in primetime, the peak of this multi-billion-dollar college football business was coming down on a freshman quarterback, Marcus Mariota. He turned 19 a few weeks ago.
He botched it, and then the field-goal kicker missed, too, allowing Stanford to beat No. 2 Oregon 17-14. On a night when BCS No. 1 Kansas State was exposed, crushed at lowly Baylor, the Oregon loss completely turned college football upside down.
"I learned a lot,'' Mariota said. "This was the first overtime I've ever played in.''
His first? In this situation? He just seemed so young, sitting there in a postgame news conference, explaining how he had missed a call on third down in overtime and thrown to the wrong spot in the end zone.
"He was running one way,'' Mariota said simply, "and I was throwing the other. Just a miscommunication. That's on me.''
He also had run frantically on the first two downs and gotten nowhere.
I came to the game thinking ...