The Top Fan's Top 25 - Final 2013
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Tennessee won the first BCS Title in 1998 with a win over Florida State, and Florida State won the final BCS Title in 2013 with a win over Auburn. Yes, the Seminoles were a part of the opening and closing of the BCS era, also winning a crown in 1999 with a win over Virginia Tech. The BCS era now comes to a close, with a four-team playoff now set to take flight and lead college football into the future. Whether the BCS was - or was not - a good system to crown college football's major champion will be debated for years to come. But regardless of your view, there is no debating that a ton of excitement was generated by the system.
The final season of the BCS era was as exciting as any, with many thanks to Auburn for leaving us speechless watching their final two regular season games. This season will be remembered for years to come as one of the greats. Here are my Top 25 teams as we close out the 2013 season....
1. Florida State Seminoles (14-0) - After steamrolling every team on their schedule all season long, FSU ran into a tough opponent in the BCS Championship Game against Auburn. In a thriller that will go down as one of the best college football games of all time, the Seminoles scored last to defeat the Tigers, 34-31. The win gave FSU its third national title (1993, 1999, 2013) and first under Jimbo Fisher. QB Jameis Winston had a season for the ages for the national champions as he won the Heisman Trophy and promptly guided his team to the national title winning score with under a minute remaining, connecting with Kelvin Benjamin. Next year, Winston will look to guide his team to another championship season.
2. Auburn Tigers (12-2) - Twelve months ago, if you would have told disgruntled Auburn fans that their team would be in Pasadena playing for a national championship the following January, you probably would have been smacked in the face. But sure enough, just one season into the Gus Malzahn era, Auburn made it to the nation's biggest stage, and the Tigers were just a minute away from winning their second national title in four years. The upset bid fell three points short, and heartbreak fell upon the Tiger nation as FSU celebrated, but this season is one that will go down as one of the most memorable ever. At the center of it all was Auburn.
3. Michigan State Spartans (13-1) - The Spartans put together their best season since 1988, defeating #2 Ohio State, 34-24, to win the Big Ten Championship. They followed that up by winning the Rose Bowl Game over #5 Stanford, 24-20. This team was anchored all season long by a solid defense. The offense wasn't going to set the world on fire (although in the final two games they averaged 29 points), but with a defense like this one, they didn't have to. The only blemish on the season for Sparty came back in week four, when they slipped up to Notre Dame in South Bend, 17-13. Coach Mark D'Antonio has this program on the rise and as long as he is around, so too should be MSU.
4. South Carolina Gamecocks (11-2) - There wasn't a team in America playing better than South Carolina as the 2013 season came to a close. QB Connor Shaw was able to run Steve Spurrier's offense to perfection with weapons such as wide receiver Shaq Roland and running back Mike Davis helping him out. On defense, need I even mention Jadaveon Clowney? He will be perhaps the first player taken in the NFL draft in four months. The Gamecocks slipped up on the road at Tennessee in week seven or there is no telling just how far this team could have gone. South Carolina defeated six teams that went on to win a bowl game and defeated rival Clemson once again.
5. Oregon Ducks (11-2) - Each season, in my mind, there are about eight to ten teams that have a legit shot at a national title. This season, with a loaded lineup led by QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon was certainly one of the teams in that mix. The Ducks were the consensus #2 team to Alabama throughout the season until a game against Stanford in week nine delivered a painful dose of reality. A second loss to Arizona a couple of weeks later sealed the fate on UO as far as the natty goes, but in the Alamo Bowl, Oregon flexed some muscle. They ran Texas straight out of San Antonio in a 30-7 decisive victory to end the season, sending Mack Brown out with a loss.
6. Missouri Tigers (12-2) - The SEC East champs closed the 2013 season by blasting Oklahoma State, 41-31, in the Cotton Bowl. Mizzou had a fine season that saw losses come only to Auburn and South Carolina - two top five teams, in my opinion. Over the course of the season, Mizzou defeated five teams that were ranked in the top 25 at the time, led by an offense that finished the season 14th in the nation in points scored at 39 per game. Quarterbacks James Franklin and Maty Mauk combined for 30 passing TDs and nearly 3,500 passing yards.
7. Oklahoma Sooners (11-2) - It is quite clear that Oklahoma was "more excited" to be in the Sugar Bowl than Alabama was, and the result (that will be permanently on the teams' record) was a big win for OU. The Sooners closed strong behind the arm of freshman QB Trevor Knight. This kid is going to lead the Sooners to many, many more wins in his career in Norman and will most-likely see his team start 2014 in the preseason top five. "Big Game" Bob Stoops puts another feather in his cap with a big-time Sugar Bowl showing, and will now try to land some of the nation's top recruits to keep things going.
8. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-2) - The Crimson Tide spent the first twelve weeks of the college football season on top at #1. The two-time defending national champions actually made it all the way to the final play of the final regular season game before giving up the now famous "kick six" to rival Auburn in a heartbreaking loss. A less-than-impressive showing against Oklahoma sends Nick Saban's squad back to the drawing boards for the 2014 season. My bet is that the Tide will be "back" sooner rather than later. This program is stock-piled with talent and will reload and develop.
9. Clemson Tigers (11-2) - Despite a fifth-straight loss to rival South Carolina that will linger for another year, Clemson broke through for a BCS win over Ohio State in the Orange Bowl and what will surely be a final top ten regular season ranking in the major polls. The Clemson offense broke all kinds of school and ACC records in 2013 behind the solid play of QB Tajh Boyd. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins will go down as one of the school's all-time great players after a remarkable showing against the Buckeyes where he looked like a man among boys. Clemson has not yet reached the elite level of college football, but this program has become a legit top 15 team under Dabo Swinney.
10. UCLA Bruins (10-3) - All season, QB Brett Hundley was one of my favorites. The tall sophomore plays hard and with obvious talent. The most impressive win of the season for UCLA - in my mind - was back in week two, when the Bruins scored 38-straight points in a come-from-behind win over Nebraska in Lincoln. To end the season, UCLA trounced Virginia Tech, 42-12, in the Sun Bowl. The battle for Los Angeles is officially on as Jim Mora will go into the recruiting grounds squaring off with new USC head man Steve Sarkisian. This rivalry will be one of the most exciting in the country to watch in the coming seasons.
11. LSU (10-3)
12. Stanford (11-3)
13. Central Florida (12-1)
14. Ohio State (12-2)
15. Baylor (11-2)
16. Oklahoma State (10-3)
17. Louisville (12-1)
18. Washington (9-4)
19. Texas A&M (9-4)
20. Arizona State (10-4)
21. USC (10-4)
22. Wisconsin (9-4)
23. Nebraska (9-4)
24. Duke (10-4)
25. Notre Dame (9-4)
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