The final year of the BCS is upon us. While the most polarizing postseason format in a major sport is on its way out (good riddance), it did leave us with some interesting matchups, including a national title between two of the hottest teams in the country.
Florida State and Auburn will play for it all in the BCS National Championship. Meanwhile, Ohio State, whose loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten title knocked the Buckeyes out of the championship hunt, will play Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
Alabama gets Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, a game many thought should be between the Tide and Oregon, and the Big 12 champion Baylor gets UCF in the Fiesta Bowl.
Finally, the Rose Bowl figures to be a good 'ol fashioned slugfest between Michigan State and Stanford, the Big Ten and Pac-12 champions, respectively.
How will the five BCS games unfold before the College Football Playoff takes over next year? Let the guessing begin.
(All rankings reflect the final BCS standings. All stats courtesy of the NCAA.)
2013-14 college football predictions transitioned from projecting which teams will be in bowls to which teams will win bowls when the postseason bowl schedule was released on Sunday night.
Here is a definitive guide to the entire bowl season, as well as a breakdown of its best games.
BCS Title Game: Florida State vs. Auburn
Auburn earned a trip to the championship in dramatic fashion, defeating Missouri by the score of 59-42 (and seeing previously undefeated Ohio State lose to Michigan State). In the process, Auburn did something that Florida State hasn't done all season long—it surrendered 42 points.
That's why the Seminoles will beat the Tigers in Pasadena, Calif. on Jan. 6.
Auburn has more than enough offense to keep up with Florida State. The Tigers average over 40.0 points per game this season, despite playing in the SEC. Auburn fields the No. 1 rushing offense in the nation, averaging 335.7 yards per game on the ground.
However, the Seminoles field the No. 1 defense in points allowed. They surrender an average of 13.3 points per game fewer than the Tigers. Auburn's offense is amazing, but its defense is somewhere between solid and mediocre.
Florida State is not only the better overall team, but it boasts the best player—Jameis Winston. The Heisman hopeful has amassed 4,013 yards from scrimmage and 42 total touchdowns this season. The freshman hasn't lost a game in his college career, and he won't have a blemish on his record when his sophomore campaign starts, either.
Florida State by seven
Rose Bowl: Michigan State vs. Stanford
While the combined score of the BCS title game is sure to climb up into the 70s, if not 80s, the Rose Bowl will be a defensive battle. Michigan State and Stanford both boast top-10 defenses in points allowed per game. They each have a victory against an elite offense on their resumes, the Spartans holding Ohio State to 24 points and the Cardinal holding Oregon to 20.
But in a showdown highlighting both defenses, Stanford's offense is what will give it the edge. The Cardinal have the best quarterback, running back and wide receiver in this matchup.
Kevin Hogan has a passer rating 20.2 points higher this season than Connor Cook. Tyler Gaffney has accumulated 280 yards and three touchdowns on the ground more than Jeremy Langford. And Ty Montgomery has reeled in 24 receptions for 412 yards and four touchdowns more than Bennie Fowler.
Also in Pasadena, Calif., Stanford will have home-state advantage. Sure, it has two losses while Michigan State has only one. Well, the Spartans also only have two wins over top-25 teams, compared to seven for the Cardinal.
Stanford actually went undefeated against top-25 teams this season. It'll maintain that perfection on New Year's Day.
Stanford by three
Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Missouri
This isn't a BCS bowl, but it will be more exciting than the Orange, Sugar and Fiesta Bowls because it actually features an even matchup. And not only are Oklahoma State and Missouri an even matchup, but they both boast high-powered offenses. Don't brush it off because they both suffered last-week letdowns—the Jan. 3 Cotton Bowl could ultimately be the most exciting showdown of the bowl season.
The Cowboys and Tigers combine to average 78.9 points per game. Each also fields a top-40 passing attack. While the former has a slight defensive edge—allowing 2.5 fewer points per game than Missouri—it will be the latter's running game that carries it to victory.
The Tigers rush for 64.5 more yards per game than Oklahoma State. On the season, their duo of Henry Josey and Russell Hansbrough has combined for 1,734 yards on the ground (Josey on 6.6 yards a pop and Hansbrough 6.3) compared to the Cowboys' Desmond Roland and Jeremy Smith's 1,187 yards (Roland on 4.7 yards per carry and Smith on 3.8).
Missouri's wideout duo of L'Damian Washington and Dorial Green-Beckham also trumps Oklahoma State's Tracy Moore and Josh Stewart in receptions, yards and touchdowns. Again, this game will be close, but the Tigers possess a slight yet noticeable edge.
Missouri by three
David Daniels is a breaking news writer at Bleacher Report and news editor at Wade-O Radio.
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The past two weeks of college football have been exhilarating, but they have also given us a good look at some top prospects in high-pressure games.
Rivalry week and championship week allow prospects to shine (or falter) on the biggest stage of the season, and therefore these games can have a sizable impact on draft stocks.
Here are some top prospects who played this past Saturday and have taken advantage of the spotlight, along with a few others who have come up short.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
It's hard to stand out in this year's crowded wide receiver class, but Benjamin has been absolutely unbelievable in his past three games.
The redshirt sophomore is a little raw, but he's an impressive athlete at 6'5", 234 pounds and will be skyrocketing up my (and probably everybody else's) big board soon.
He has 17 catches for 392 yards and seven scores in his last three games, and he helped Florida State dominate in the ACC Championship Game with 119 yards and two touchdowns.
Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Gilbert has gotten better all season and has put himself in the first-round discussion after an exceptional past month. He uses his speed and instincts to make an impact on every play.
The senior took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown four games ago against Kansas and then had two interceptions (one of which he took back for a score) the following week against Texas.
Gilbert's speed is impressive, but Jalen Saunders also found out how strong he is this past Saturday. Oklahoma State may have lost out on a Big 12 title, but Gilbert looked good with three solo tackles and two passes defended.
Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
People are just starting to bring up Bortles' name as other top quarterbacks are returning to school or getting hurt, but I've been high on Bortles for a couple months now.
He was rising up my board regardless of what the players around him were doing, as he has shown a lot of potential while shockingly leading UCF to a Top 15 ranking. Don't be surprised if his team is in the Top 25 next spring.
The junior has been outstanding in his past four games with a 68.9 completion percentage, 1,200 passing yards and seven touchdowns. He showed off his athleticism in clinching the AAC title with 31 rushing yards and two scores on the ground.
Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
After having a good but not great first half of the season, Shazier has been one of the best defensive players in the nation over the past four games.
He has averaged 15.25 tackles and 2.875 tackles for loss over that span, and he has been playing really inspired football.
The junior had an unbelievable 19 tackles and five TFL against Indiana on November 23. Then in the Big Ten Championship Game, he racked up 12 tackles, 1.5 TFL and a blocked punt. Shazier is the best 4-3 OLB prospect in the country.
Greg Richardson, OT, Auburn
Richardson is only a redshirt sophomore, but he has some serious potential and is getting better every single week.
He was a huge catalyst for Auburn's dominating offense in its SEC Championship victory. Richardson helped pave the way for the Tigers to rack up 545 yards on the ground.
He was very solid against Alabama as well. NFL scouts probably wish that he'd get to pass block a little more often, but they have to like what they see.
Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford
As a redshirt senior, Murphy has really had a breakout campaign in 2013. The 6'6" linebacker/defensive end hybrid is a freak athlete and has a great motor.
The team captain was phenomenal in Stanford's Pac-12 Championship victory over Arizona State with seven tackles and a sack while also just wreaking havoc and helping stuff ASU's running game.
Over the most recent four-game stretch, Murphy has been equally as impressive with 7.5 TFL and four sacks. He's pretty much a first-round lock at this point.
Michael Sam, DE, Missouri
Mizzou got absolutely annihilated by Auburn's rushing attack in the SEC Championship Game as Tre Mason was able to go for a record 304 yards on the ground.
Just the week before, Mizzou also got shredded on the ground by Texas A&M for 184 yards. Sam had just 0.5 sacks, one TFL and eight tackles in those two games, which were the biggest of the season.
He doesn't have the athletic upside that Kony Ealy does, so those kinds of games hit Sam's stock pretty hard. He's been neutralized against two of the best offensive lines he's faced, which isn't good.
Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
After a breakout sophomore campaign last year, Coleman's lack of production this year is pretty strange. He came into this year as a potential first-round pick, but he's looked incredibly mediocre for most of the season.
Rutgers didn't play in a conference championship game this past weekend, but the Scarlet Knights did beat USF in a matchup where Coleman recorded only one catch for 14 yards. He had just three catches for 56 yards and no scores in the two games prior.
Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
Sutton (somehow) was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year over Trent Murphy, but he has hurt his draft stock this season.
The redshirt senior hasn't been bad by any means this year, but he's just left a lot to be desired this season, especially in the past few games.
He has just two sacks in his past four games and averages one TFL over that same span. ASU's defense was lit up by Stanford's uninspiring offense, and Sutton just didn't make a big impact with a lot on the line.
Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
All season, some people were saying that Ohio State was not anywhere near as good as its record and that the Buckeyes looked impressive because they played inferior competition.
This past Saturday, those critics were proven correct. Miller made his mark running but went just 8-of-21 passing for 101 yards and was inconsistent.
You can't play QB in the NFL if you can't throw, and Miller's 38.9 completion percentage over the past two weeks (against the two best teams OSU played all year) will really damage his stock.
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The AdvoCare V100 bowl may not sound like something to plan your holiday festivities around, but as it features two BCS-conference programs, you'll certainly want to add it to your December football menu.
Arizona will represent the Pac-12 in this bowl game. The Wildcats are one of the more interesting teams of the 2013 season, if only for the fact that the coach is spread guru Rich Rodriguez and the offense can score points in a hurry.
Meanwhile, Boston College has one of the best running backs in the country in Andre Williams, and the Eagles will look to establish the ground game and notch a fifth win in their past six games.
The two teams have never met on the gridiron, which only adds to the intrigue of how each squad will prepare for the matchup. Let's take a look at some keys to the game, players to watch and make a prediction on how it will all go down.
Date & Time: Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m. ET
Place: Shreveport, La.
All stats courtesy of ESPN, unless otherwise noted.
AT&T Stadium will be lit up with fireworks in early January for the Cotton Bowl.
Missouri will face off against Oklahoma State in one of the most fascinating bowl matchups this holiday season. The Tigers and Cowboys can score points in a hurry, so expect another shootout in college football's best non-BCS bowl.
Both teams are coming off losses that cost them a chance to be in a BCS bowl this season.
Missouri finished a surprisingly successful season with 11 wins. But the Tigers lost last week in the SEC Championship Game to Auburn, costing them an opportunity to play in the BCS National Championship.
Oklahoma State rolled to another 10-win season under Mike Gundy. Yet it ended sourly when the Cowboys allowed in-state rival Oklahoma to sneak away with a win last week.
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Date: Jan. 3, 2014
Place: AT&T Stadium; Arlington, TX
The 2013-14 bowl season will run from Dec. 21 to Jan. 6, according to ESPN. It's a great time for college football, but also a crucial time in recruiting.
A lot of different events take place, including postseason all-star games that give recruits a national platform to announce their decisions. Several elite prospects appear likely to make a commitment on these platforms during bowl season.
The nation's top player will be making his decision next month, while a linebacker is getting ready for an announcement in December. Plus, an offensive tackle could pick a school in a matter of days.
The 2013 college football bowl season begins in earnest with a potential high-scoring matchup of teams from the Mountain West and Pac-12 conferences, as Colorado State (7-6) and Washington State (6-6) will meet in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.
Colorado State is making its first appearance in a bowl since 2008, when the Rams downed Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl. For Washington State, the bowl game is its first since 2003, when the Cougars beat Texas in the Holiday Bowl.
Both teams are led by coaches in their second year at the helm. Jim McElwain was 4-8 in his first season at CSU after a four-year stint as Alabama's offensive coordinator, while Mike Leach had WSU at 3-9 last year following a brief coaching hiatus. Leach was head coach at Texas Tech from 2000-2009.
It will be the first ever meeting between the schools, which are separated by about 1,100 miles of mostly Rocky Mountain terrain.
Colorado State (7-6) vs. Washington State (6-6)
When: Saturday, Dec. 21, 2 p.m. ET
Where: University Stadium, Albuquerque, N.M.
Radio: Colorado State Rams Radio Network; Washington State IMG Sports Network
Choosing the lineup of BCS games is anything but a perfect science. It’s more about ticket sales, shoulder rubs and favors for particular conferences and, of course, money. It’s always about money.
In the final year of this soon-to-be retired system, however, we have been handed a lineup of captivating matchups. It isn’t perfect—and the shoulder rubs are clearly in play yet again—but there is variety.
More importantly, there are quality teams playing against one another in a buffet of football intrigue.
The intrigue begins at the top with the BCS National Championship. While the maligned system has taken its lumps over the years, it has often delivered the appropriate teams in the final showcase. This is again the case as Auburn and Florida State will meet.
Over the next month, you will likely hear “Dominance vs. Destiny” roughly 42,000 times before the actual game. Perhaps it’s appropriate given the past four weeks, although this is about more than just a few outstanding plays that will be featured on repeat.
Florida State has seemingly destroyed everything in its path and has Jameis Winston, the best player in college football this season. Auburn has improved drastically throughout the year and has a running attack that is absolutely terrifying.
It's the best team versus the hottest team, and this game requires no further hype. It’s the correct matchup, and it has the potential to be magnificent with star power—with likely two of the top three finishers in the Heisman going toe-to-toe.
It's not just this game, the undercard delivers as well. And the excitement begins with the Orange Bowl.
Ohio State’s loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Football Championship Game is our gain in a strange way. The Buckeyes will take on Clemson, and the possibility for an obscene amount of points and endless touchdowns seems likely.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney wasted little time showing his appreciation for the team he's facing next.
Dabo Swinney says Ohio State is "quite possibly the best team in the country."— Kyle Rowland (@KyleRowland) December 9, 2013
Braxton Miller, Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and Carlos Hyde will all meet on the same field and the result could be scoreboard destruction. You’ve been warned.
On the completely opposite end of the spectrum—but on par in terms of excitement—is this year’s Rose Bowl matchup.
Michigan State and Stanford will meet up in a game that your grandfather would adore. You should as well. Both defenses have been exceptional in 2013, and the blueprints for both teams are pretty clear: Run, stop the run, win the line of scrimmage and hit people into oblivion.
That kind of hitting probably won't be found in the Fiesta Bowl, although this could prove to be the hidden gem of the BCS. Baylor’s magnificent season—led by a high-power offense and an underrated defense—will be matching up against Central Florida.
The Knights’ presence in this game will likely bring an assembly of sighs, although it shouldn’t. UCF didn’t exactly close out the season strong, but it finished with only one loss against South Carolina. UCF quarterback Blake Bortles is outstanding, and the matchup against Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty is one of the better quarterback showdowns we will see this season. The matchup between running backs isn't too shabby, either.
There will be points. Lots of points.
The Sugar Bowl is where the BCS embraces its frustrating roots, although even this game is not without intrigue. Alabama will take on Oklahoma in a matchup that looks incredibly lopsided on paper. Although many—including myself—were hoping to see Alabama-Oregon under slightly different circumstances, this will do just fine. It’ll have to.
It will serve as AJ McCarron’s final collegiate game, and Nick Saban vs. Bob Stoops will be entertaining regardless of the circumstances. Following the announcement, Saban expressed his appreciation for the matchup.
Nick Saban on playing #Oklahoma: "It's a real honor"— Dylan Buckingham (@DylanBuckingham) December 9, 2013
Let’s not sugarcoat it, though.
This is BCS having its “remember me?” moment before the lights are turned off.
The entire platter, however, is encouraging. A combination of unique styles, big brands and quality teams make this a banner year for the BCS in its final year. It’s not perfect—and it rarely is—but given the circumstances and archaic guidelines it has to follow, it did quite well.
It's also the last line of defense between you and the offseason, and this cannot be stressed enough. The fact that the flawed system was able to offer up quality on its final run is most appreciated.
Now, feel free to unplug it on your way out.
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Bowling Green just snatched away Northern Illinois' chances at a BCS berth by capturing the MAC Championship.
It's reward? A date with the Pittsburgh Panthers in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
And the Panthers will be no pushover. Although they finished just 6-6, the Panthers have wins over the likes of Notre Dame and Duke. However, they also have losses to teams like Navy and Georgia Tech.
Time: 6 p.m. ET, Dec. 26, 2013
Place: Ford Field, Detroit, Mich.
Radio: TBC Sports Radio
In a city that cherishes championships, nobody will confuse a Notre Dame-Rutgers game for the apex of college football. But the New Era Pinstripe Bowl gets one of the more interesting non-BCS games of the postseason, matching up two teams that would like to stake their claim as New York's team.
The Irish already have a loyal following in New York, with thousands of subway alums tracing back generations. That bond brought the Irish into new Yankee Stadium, part of a sold-out first football game in the "House that Steinbrenner Built" in 2010, as part of the Shamrock Series. Rutgers played in Yankee Stadium a year later, and with its inclusion into the Big Ten next season, the team wants this game to help it reclaim a turf war for the Big Apple.
Neither team has reached their goals this season.
The Irish's BCS dreams were dashed after a disappointing loss to Pitt in early November and a slew of injuries that derailed the season. Rutgers coach Kyle Flood very nearly lost his job. He was forced to fire three coaches on Sunday, according to the team's website, with defensive coordinator Dave Cohen, quarterbacks coach Rob Spence and offensive line coach Damian Wroblewski not taking part in the bowl game.
Let's get you up to speed on the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
Date and Time: December 28, 12:15 ET
Place: Yankee Stadium, The Bronx, N.Y.
Radio: ESPN Radio, SiriusXM Channel 129
The BCS bowl games are set, so let's take a look at which bowls are the winners and the losers.
The Fiesta Bowl features a pair of one-loss conference champions in UCF and Baylor. Is the matchup a win or loss for the bowl in Arizona?
Watch college football analysts Adam Kramer and Barrett Sallee break down all of the BCS games and discuss which matchups they're most excited to see.
Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.
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The 2013 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl will host one heck of a matchup when Middle Tennessee squares off against Navy.
On one side, the Blue Raiders (8-4) will be entering in the midst of a hot streak. After starting the season off slow, the team has now won five consecutive games.
On the heels of back-to-back eight-win seasons, Middle Tennessee will be feeling confident.
On the other hand, the Midshipmen (7-4) come in riding a strong rushing attack. Win or lose, the team has successfully pounded the ball on the ground.
In fact, the team has done so better than almost any other team in the nation, coming in ranked No. 3 in the category.
Who will get the upper hand in Forth Worth?
Time: Dec. 30, 11:45 p.m. ET
Place: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Tx.
TV/Radio: ESPN/ESPN Radio
The final BCS rankings are out, meaning the countdown for bowl season has officially begun.
This winter's marquee matchup will feature two storied programs with rich traditions as Florida State and Auburn will play for the BCS National Championship on Jan. 6. The two contenders won their respective conference championships in convincing fashion on Saturday and the Tigers got some help from Michigan State to secure the coveted No. 2 spot in the final year of the BCS.
Here's a look at the final standings:
Florida State was a four-touchdown favorite coming into its ACC Championship Game showdown with Duke on Saturday, and unsurprisingly covered the spread, dismantling the Blue Devils in Charlotte to secure its first national championship appearance in 13 years.
Having led the Seminoles to their first undefeated season since 1999, freshman quarterback Jameis Winston has built an impressive case for the Heisman Trophy. Winston has been one of the most dominant forces in all of college football this season, throwing for 3,820 yards and 38 touchdowns and breaking the single-season record for touchdown passes by a freshman.
Meanwhile, Ohio State's 10-point loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game derailed the Buckeyes' title hopes and ensured that the SEC would have a team in the championship game for the eighth straight year.
The Buckeyes will have a month to regroup before taking on Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
Auburn won the SEC Championship Game for the second time in four years on Saturday evening, racking up a ridiculous 545 rushing yards and putting 59 points on the board in the 17-point win.
Two-time defending national champion Alabama will miss out on the title game for the first time since 2010-11, when they finished the regular season 9-3 and had to settle for a trip to the Capital One Bowl. At 11-1 overall, the Crimson Tide will still appear in a BCS bowl in January as they are scheduled to represent the SEC in New Orleans at the Sugar Bowl against No. 11 Oklahoma.
Speaking of the Sooners, Oklahoma knocked off rival No. 13 Oklahoma State in Bedlam on Saturday afternoon to open the door for Baylor to win the Big 12 Conference. The No. 6 Bears beat Texas in a winner-take-all battle in Waco to earn their first-ever Big 12 crown and BCS bowl bid. They'll head to Glendale, Ariz. for the Fiesta Bowl against No. 15 Central Florida.
No. 5 Stanford beat No. 14 Arizona State in Tempe to win the Pac-12 title for the second straight year. The Cardinal will head to the Rose Bowl for the second straight year, where they'll play Big Ten champion Michigan State on New Year's Day.
Central Florida beat SMU to conclude the regular season, but had already locked up the American Conference and an automatic BCS bowl berth.
With bowl season still two weeks away, die-hard college football fans can look forward to Army vs. Navy on Saturday afternoon and the FCS playoffs, which will continue this coming weekend with four pivotal quarterfinal matchups.
Otherwise, let the countdown begin.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.
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The 2013 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl will feature the Utah State Aggies (8-5, 7-1 MW) versus the Northern Illinois Huskies (12-1, 8-0 MAC). It will be the second time the Huskies have played in this bowl, but it is a debut for the Aggies.
This game will showcase one of the top offenses in the FBS, as NIU and senior quarterback Jordan Lynch will be looking to show off some of that fire power in San Diego.
Utah State has a highly ranked defense, however, and the Aggies will no doubt be looking to shut down Lynch and the rest of that Huskies offense.
For the Aggies, this will be the first time in school history that the team has gone to a bowl game in three straight seasons. For the Huskies, it will be its sixth consecutive bowl game.
Of course, it could have been a second BCS game in a row for NIU if it hadn't lost in the MAC Championship Game against Bowling Green. It will be interesting to see if the team can bounce back from that disappointment.
This will be the second-ever meeting of these two schools on the football field. The Aggies won the first one at home, 42-7, but that was all the way back in 1995.
This game should be much closer.
Bowl Game: The San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Date: Thursday, December 26, 2013
Kickoff: 9:30 p.m. ET
Location: Qualcomm Stadium
In its final year, the BCS did exactly what it was designed to do once again. With the final BCS Standings revealed, No. 1, Florida State will be taking on No. 2 Auburn in Pasadena to grab hold of the crystal football and be crowned as champions. The biggest "bad guy" in college football's history again serves its purpose.
Prior to the final weekend of the regular season, the arguments about who would be left out and who was deserving were raging quite loudly. Ohio State fans fought against Auburn fans as the SEC and Big Ten battled to decide who was truly more deserving.
People readied themselves to spend Saturday night into Sunday evening making their case for their team. Yet as Michigan State took down the Buckeyes, 34-24, in Indianapolis, the echo chamber never got truly fired up for action. There would be no stump speeches needed on the part of a one-loss SEC champ.
College football in the BCS era has a knack for sorting itself out. 2013 is not unique; it is the norm for the Bowl Championship Series. Folks spend October and November gearing themselves up, fighting battles that, come December, tend to not matter much.
In 2013 alone, the college football world has dealt with Baylor's lack of respect and Ohio State's schedule controversy. Oregon and Alabama went undefeated and left a flawless Florida State out in the cold. At the end of October, there were five BCS conference undefeated teams, and on December 8, there is only one.
Baylor eliminated itself when its receivers failed to get off press coverage against Oklahoma State and handed the Cowboys a big win. Oregon shrank away in the face of Stanford's power and then stayed on the mat as Arizona trounced it. Alabama's inability to commit to stopping the run sank its chances in the final week of its regular season.
And, of course, Ohio State dropped to the Spartans in the Big Ten Championship Game.
That left the undefeated Seminoles and the Auburn Tigers, the nation's strongest finishing team, set to meet for the Coaches' Trophy. This self-sorting ability is the norm on the collegiate landscape.
Back in 2006 the nation seemed poised to get an Ohio State-Michigan rematch for a BCS Championship. Yet America's strongest finisher, the Florida Gators, would find its way into the game on the strength of an SEC Championship win. Of course, people often forget, it was not just the Gators' win, but the USC loss to UCLA which gave the No. 4 Gators a push to the second spot.
2006 was a sloppy ending, but one that ultimately worked itself out.
Other years, such as Virginia Tech and Florida State in 1999, USC and Texas in 2005 and 2002 Ohio State and Miami make things far easier. Two undefeated teams at the top create an easy remedy and the BCS has supplied the matchup that was desired.
It is not always as cut and dry as two undefeated teams battling it out, or a hot finishing squad rising above a slower start, but the BCS still finds a way to work more often than not.
In 2009, a season where five teams finished undefeated and in the Top Six, the system did the heavy lifting, putting Alabama and Texas ahead of the pack.
The same goes for the messy 2007 season where the only two-loss BCS Champion was crowned, LSU. Eight two-loss teams were eligible for the BCS, and the system found a way to make sure that the most qualified team, Les Miles' Bayou Bengals, got to play for the hardware.
To start November, there were seven undefeated teams, Florida State was ahead of Oregon and both Ducks and Seminoles fans were gearing up to argue about the right to play Alabama. Ohio State was set to tout its win streak as a reason it should move up and both Fresno State and Northern Illinois were fighting for a BCS spot.
What a difference a month makes. November is when title shots are earned and lost. Going undefeated in college football is easier than in other sports, but it is by no means a task many accomplish. Ask Alabama, Ohio State, Baylor, Fresno State and the rest of the nation that's not Florida State.
The BCS got it right again. From the first season to its finale, the often despised structure has done its job. The BCS is what people hate in September, October and November. Then, December comes around, and more often than not, the college football world gets what it has been looking for all season: some clarity.
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Week 15 of the 2013 college football campaign showcased a number of championship games for many conferences, as well as the end of the regular season for a handful of marquee programs.
There were a number of exciting results that drastically shifted the order in the latest BCS Top 25 rankings, the final release of the season.
Let’s take a look at the updated polls and recap the top action from this past week.
No. 1 Florida State handled business against a feisty Duke team in the ACC Championship. The Seminoles' critical win over the No. 24 Blue Devils punched their ticket to Pasadena to contest for the national championship.
No. 2 Auburn will be the challenger after their thrilling 59-42 win over No. 8 Missouri in the SEC Championship.
Ohio State blew their shot at landing in the BCS Championship game as the No. 7 Buckeyes fell to No. 4 Michigan State in the Big Ten title game 34-24. It was Urban Meyer's first career loss as head coach of the Buckeyes.
No. 3 Alabama moved up the rankings despite not having a scheduled game in Week 15. The Crimson Tide had their hopes of making the SEC Championship and a third-straight national title game dashed when Auburn upset them in the Iron Bowl.
The Bedlam Series was once again a great one, with No. 11 Oklahoma coming out on top over their bitter Big 12 rival No. 13 Oklahoma State by a score of 33-24 in a wild finsh.
No. 6 Baylor will be heading to their first ever BCS bowl game after their 30-10 win over Texas.
No. 5 Stanford took care of business against Arizona State 38-14, and will now meet Michigan State in the Rose Bowl.
With Army vs. Navy on Dec. 14 serving as the only regular-season game left on tap, it’s time to say goodbye to the 2013 college football season. It is a bittersweet ending, as we can now say hello to bowl season now that we have the latest BCS rankings in hand.
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Nebraska football fans were probably not envisioning a trip to Jacksonville, Fla., to see NU play in the Gator Bowl at the start of the 2013 season. But coming off an ugly home loss to Iowa to conclude an 8-4 campaign, and all of the drama surrounding head coach Bo Pelini’s job status towards the end of the season, focusing on any bowl game will be a welcoming change.
So what should Nebraska fans be looking for as they prepare for NU to take on the Georgia Bulldogs in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1? Here are five things that are on the menu this holiday season.
With the whirlwind surrounding Washington football, a bowl game may not be on the front of most Huskies' minds. After head coach Steve Sarkisian left Seattle for USC, UW announced that Boise State's Chris Peterson would fill the coaching void.
But Washington will face Sarkisian's alma mater, BYU, in this year's Kraft Fight Hunger bowl. Both teams had highs and lows during the season, and their contrasting styles will make for an interesting game.
BYU started out on a roller coaster for the first few games, looking dominant in one and awful in the next. The Cougars rattled off five wins in the middle of their schedule, but ended the same way they started, not showing much consistency.
Washington came into the year as a borderline-Top 25 squad with high hopes. The team didn't disappoint, winning four straight before losing a trio of in-conference games. The Huskies ended strong, winning four of their last five contests, and earned a third-place finish in the Pac-12 North.
BYU and UW haven't met since 2010, when Riley Nelson and Jake Heaps squeaked past the Huskies, 23-17.
Time: December 27, 6:30 p.m. PT
Place: AT&T Park (San Francisco, Calif.)
The field is set for college football bowl season. The matchups for all 35 postseason bowls were announced on Sunday night.
With the way the conference championship games unfolded, there weren't any real shocks among the BCS bowl selections.
Ohio State's loss to Michigan State ended any sort of controversy about the national championship. Florida State will meet Auburn in Pasadena in what will be the biggest must-see matchup of bowl season.
It will be great to see Jameis Winston and the balanced Seminoles offense go head to head against Tre Mason, Nick Marshall and that splendid Auburn running game.
Among the other four BCS games, the Rose Bowl stands out. Both Stanford and Michigan State play a physical style of football. The Cardinal and Spartans have strong defenses and offenses predicated on running the football. Don't be surprised if this game proves to be the most enjoyable in Pasadena this January.
Clemson and Ohio State is also an intriguing matchup in the Orange Bowl, as many were criticizing the Tigers and Buckeyes' resumes throughout the season. Both teams need a quality win to silence some of the doubters and begin the hype train for 2014.
Of course, bowl season isn't all about the big boys.
Many fans argue that it's foolish to have over half of of the teams in the FBS qualify for bowl games, as it devalues qualifying for a postseason bowl. There's some validity to that criticism.
On the other hand, bowl games are often the biggest showcase schools from non-AQ conferences can get. It's a chance to play in front of a national audience with the lights on bright and plenty of NFL scouts in attendance, and a bowl is a great reward for guys like Jordan Lynch and Derek Carr, who've done so much for their respective schools.
Plus, the smaller bowls are a great proving ground for potential BCS busters. Boise State made the slow climb up from the Humanitarian Bowl to the Liberty Bowl and then eventually a win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
Chances are, a future BCS buster is lurking among those lesser-considered bowl games.
Without further ado, here's the schedule for bowl season.
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The 2014 Allstate Sugar Bowl is set to feature two of the nation's greatest traditional powers, and two of the most recognizable brands in college football, when No. 3 Alabama meets No. 11 Oklahoma.
The matchup marks a meeting of two teams at a crossroads. The Crimson Tide will enter the Superdome looking to recover from a jarring loss to archrival Auburn and hoping to set Nick Saban's recent dynasty back on course going into the 2014 season and beyond.
Across the way, the Sooners are flying high after a thrilling upset win over rival Oklahoma State and making their first appearance in a BCS bowl since 2010.
Alabama is looking to hold onto its place among the elite programs in college football, while Oklahoma is beating on the door, trying to break into that upper echelon.
Under the bright lights of the Superdome, something will have to give.
Time: Thursday, Jan. 2, 7:30 p.m. ET
Place: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La.