2013 was an exercise in patience

Newfound patience fortified Minnesota coach Jerry Kill through the biggest health scare of his life. As he fought to overcome his epilepsy, his Gophers scrapped their way to an 8-4 season. Patience revealed the dedication of fans at Rice, which won its first outright conference title since 1957, at Michigan State, which won its first Big Ten championship since 1987, and at Duke, which won 10 games for the first time since forever.

Patience illustrated the talent of Boston College tailback Andre Williams, the forbearance of Texas coach Mack Brown and the competitive fire of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, who led the injury-ravaged Bulldogs to seven wins before his knee left him crumpled as well.

And as the season ended, we saw patience being called upon at Alabama, whose two-year reign atop the sport ended on the short end of the War Damn Miracle. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Heisman favorite for most of October before a knee injury hindered his mobility, didn't hesitate before deciding to delay his entrance into pro football for at least one more year.

They'll need a little patience at Ohio State, where a great season ended with a fourth consecutive season without a Big Ten championship, the Buckeyes' longest drought in 20 years. They began Saturday with a 24-game winning streak. They ended it with a one-game losing streak. In a season in which unpredictability reigned, belief in the power of the 12-game regular season (plus conference championships) to identify the best became its own reward.

All it took was a little patience.

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