Ten Things - Week 15
Posted By:Wes Mewbourne - Birmingham, AL Tags:
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Once again, Championship Saturday blows up everything we thought would happen in the BCS. Buster got busted, another undefeated falls, and an SEC team is in position to get yet another crystal football. The Bowl Championship Series has had a spectacular impact on college football – both good and not so good. As the final standings come about, let’s take a look back at the week that was with an eye toward the future…
1. The BCS Swan Song – In 1998, the BCS started as a system designed to find a true #1 vs #2 matchup. Sometimes it was hugely successful (OSU-Miami 2003, USC-Texas 2005). Others, it was an absolute joke (USC-Oklahoma 2004). While the matchups in the title game were more hit than miss, the system as a whole suffered year after year. Changes were made in each of the first six years in how to determine the rankings, the computer component was always heavily scrutinized since its formulas remained private, and it seemed almost every year that there was at least one deserving team left out. But with all the heartache and stress, college football never previously enjoyed so much exposure and financial interest. Let’s remember the BCS for what it was, a step in the right direction.
2. Florida State Dominates – No two ways about it, the Seminoles earned their ranking. While others around them have fallen to lesser foes, FSU is averaging a winning final score of 53-11. That’s just crazy. Detractors will point to a schedule that is the second easiest of any title game participant (2010 Oregon had the easiest). They will point to a conference that has been the worst in the BCS era and a team that has gone 2-5 in BCS games, with their best win coming in the 1999 season. Supporters will point out, though, that Florida State won the Orange Bowl last year, and that momentum paired with one of the best quarterbacks in the nation gives plenty of reasons to believe the Seminoles are truly back.
3. Coach of the Year, Gus Malzahn – With a nod to Art Briles (Baylor) and David Cutcliffe (Duke), one simply cannot overlook the impact the Gus Bus has had on the Plains. The fact that Auburn went from 3-9 with zero conference wins a year ago to 12-1 and SEC champs is nothing short of a miracle. You know, like a 109-yard field goal return with no time left to beat your most hated rival (who just happens to be ranked #1). Or an underthrown Hail Mary that gets tipped by two defenders into the receiver’s hands. In just one season, Malzahn has lifted Auburn from the cellar to one win away from winning it all.
4. Heisman Winner, Jameis Winston – And it’s not even close. All of the more experienced, more well-known players that had a shot (remember Marcus Mariotta and AJ McCarron?) couldn’t hold serve with the freshman phenom. Winston ranks in the top ten nationally in all major quarterback stats, including second best touchdowns (38) and number one pass efficiency (190.06), the latter narrowly falling short of the best all time – Russell Wilson’s 191.78 in 2011. Being the face and power behind the #1 team in the country doesn’t hurt. Everyone else who goes to New York should take in the sights, but don’t waste any time writing an acceptance speech.
5. Projected Title Game, Florida State vs. Auburn – This should shock no one who’s been paying attention. Florida State has been utterly dominant, and Auburn seems to be a team touched by destiny. Both teams are known for offensive explosions – Florida State comes in averaging 53 points a game and Auburn puts 40 up every Saturday. The Seminoles have a solid run defense, but so did Missouri and Alabama. But will this actually be an offensive shootout? In 2010, Auburn played Oregon in what many thought would be 50-49 (in actuality, a game winning field goal made the final 22-19). Smart money says yes, because both offenses are better than either defense. But that’s why they play the games on the field.
6. Rose Bowl, Stanford vs. Michigan State – I would say projected, but they both won their respective conferences and neither of them are playing for the crystal football, so it’s safe to lock ‘em in now. Stanford, after blasting Arizona State in the PAC-12 Championship, looks to win back to back Rose Bowls for the first time since 1971-72. Meanwhile, Michigan State is fresh off derailing Ohio State’s title hopes and enjoying their first trip to Pasadena since 1988. This is going to be one of those slugfests, as both teams rank in the top-10 scoring defenses and Stanford’s 39th best scoring offense is a bit better than Michigan State’s rank of 60th. It’s safe to say that the Grandaddy Of hem All will certainly live up to its billing (and its history) this year.
7. Projected Fiesta Bowl, Baylor vs. Central Florida – With Oklahoma State’s loss in Bedlam, Baylor secured its first outright conference title since 1980 and first BCS appearance with a 30-10 win over Texas. Meanwhile, Central Florida is also making its BCS debut as the champion of the brand new American Athletic Conference. There’s a lot of firsts going on here, but be sure that both teams are thrilled to be where they are. The Knights, whose only loss was to South Carolina, come in on an eight game winning streak while the bears are coming in just two wins removed from a heartbreaking loss. Given that both teams are experiencing unprecedented success, good luck calling this one. Baylor could win in a rout or UCF could play them down to the wire.
8. Projected Sugar Bowl, Alabama vs. Oklahoma – While many, myself included, would love to see 10-2 Oregon in this spot bowl politics just aren’t going to allow it. With the need to replace SEC Champ Auburn, fellow SEC team Alabama gets the nod here. For the other at-large selection, given that next year begins the agreement between the bowl and the Big Twelve, expect the fine folks at the Sugar Bowl to give a nod to 10-2 Oklahoma which finished the season by knocking off Oklahoma State. Sorry Oregon, but politics trumps fan desire. At least fans of yesteryear will enjoy seeing these two longtime powers collide in a classic setting.
9. Projected Orange Bowl, Clemson vs. Ohio State – Another bowl seeking to replace a title game participant will also be able to do so from within the same conference. Even though Clemson lost their season finale against in-state rival South Carolina, at 10-2 they are still eligible for the spot. And since the Orange Bowl gets first pick from the true at-large teams, when given the choice of Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, or Central Florida, it’s really a no-brainer. The one-loss Buckeyes will flock to Miami to see their team.
10. Three To See:
a. Florida State-Auburn – As if you needed me to tell you. Florida State is the latest team with a chance to stop the SEC’s streak. Auburn has a chance to extend the state of Alabama’s streak to five. Fitting how that little streak started in Pasadena. It may very well be where it ends.
b. All of the others – Seriously. Bowl season is like the Hanukkah of football; it lasts for what seems like forever, and then it’s gone. The BCS lineup will have a little something for everyone. Once the rest of the bowl games are set, there will be plenty of great matchups all over the place. Indulge yourself because with the playoffs and other potential changes on the horizon, who knows what will become of the bowl games. Enjoy them while you can.
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