By Kevin McGuire
As a long-time critic of the Bowl Championship Series system, this must be said. The BCS, in the final year of existence, will get it right this season. In one corner, undefeated Florida State. The Seminoles completed an undefeated regular season run through the ACC and finished it off with a dominating performance against undermanned Duke in the ACC Championship Game Saturday afternoon in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In the other corner, representing the seven-time BCS champion conference known to us all as the SEC, the Auburn Tigers. Despite the string of national success established by the SEC over the better part of the past decade, the pressure is on for Auburn to keep the streak alive. They will do so as an underdog, but perhaps they embrace that mentality and thrive when doubt is cast upon them. See Alabama and Missouri.
This year, the BCS got it right. Few will question if the best two teams are playing for the championship this season.
Florida State ripped through every opponent placed in front of them and had redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston put together a near-certain Heisman Trophy season. When faced with even an ounce of adversity this season, Florida State responded in a big way. As the only undefeated team in the country and as a champion of one of the automatic qualifying conferences, nobody seems to have much of an issue with Florida State making a cross-country trip to Pasadena next month for the BCS Championship Game.
Auburn does not have many doubters either. Champions of the toughest conference in the country and slayers of the previously top-ranked and perceived team-to-beat Alabama, Auburn has emerged as the nation’s top one-loss team based on their body of work. Along the way, running back Tre Mason became an unstoppable force on the ground, as did Auburn’s entire running game. There had been some discussion about whether or not a one-loss SEC champion, be it Auburn or Missouri, should jump an undefeated Ohio State after Saturday’s championship games. Auburn has as strong an argument as any team could, but may still be thankful for Michigan State settling things for them.
Michigan State ends the season with just one loss (Notre Dame) after upsetting Ohio State and snapping the 24-game winning streak in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis. Despite knocking off the nation’s second-ranked team and ending the year with an identical record to Auburn, nobody was considering Michigan State for a BCS title shot. Michigan State suffered the same problem Ohio State did in that the caliber of the Big Ten is not quite as shiny as it once was.
Maybe you are in the boat that feels Alabama is still one of the top two teams in the country. You may be right. After all, the only loss they suffered came from one of the top on-field miracles in college football history, on the road against a top five team. The two-time defending BCS champs had their chance though and were unable to take care of business, thus lost out on a chance to repeat as SEC champion.
Are the two best teams in the country right now scheduled to collide in Pasadena, California? It would be difficult to prove otherwise.
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Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.