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BCS Championship: Auburn vs. Florida State

Rest of BCS Field Comes Into Focus

by Dave Congrove
CollegeFootballPoll.com
December 8, 2013

The stage is set for the title game as the SEC backs into a shot at an 8th straight title with Ohio State's 34-24 loss to Michigan State, Auburn's 59-42 win over Missouri, and Florida State's 45-7 demolition of Duke. That combination of events triggers a certain BCS showdown between Auburn and Florida State.

Conference Champions (x-clinched BCS bid)
ACC x-Florida State
American x-Central Florida
Big Ten x-Michigan State
Big 12 x-Baylor
CUSA Rice
MAC Bowling Green
MWC Fresno State
PAC-12 x-Stanford
SEC x-Auburn
Sun Belt La.-Lafayette, Arkansas State (co-champs)

The rest of the BCS bowl field will definitely include UCF, Michigan State, Baylor and Stanford. At-large berths will surely go to Alabama and Ohio State, and the final two spots will come from the trio of Clemson, Oklahoma and Oregon.

Auburn completed its 1-season turnaround, from 3-9 overall and 0-8 in the SEC a year ago, to 12-1 and SEC champions. Auburn outscored Missouri 14-0 in the final quarter to secure the Sugar Bowl bid.

Michigan State claimed the Big Ten title as it scored the last 17 points of the game to overcome a 24-17 deficit after blowing a 17-0 lead. The Spartans won their last outright conference title in 1987, though they were co-champs in 1990 and 2010. They were Legends Division champs in 2011, but lost 42-39 to Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game.

Florida State sparred with Duke for most of the first half before exploding for a 45-7 win. It was just 7-0 with under 4 minutes to go before halftime, but the 'Noles tacked on a second touchdown and a field goal in the final 3:37 of the second quarter. FSU then dropped 21 on Duke in the 3rd quarter and another score midway through the fourth to build a 45-0 cushion. Duke saved some face with a TD at the 1:01 mark. It is FSU's fourth BCS title game appearance, but the first since 2000. Florida State played in the first three BCS Championship contests (1998, 1999 and 2000), winning only the 1999 title over now-ACC member Virginia Tech.

Oklahoma scored with 19 seconds left and added a fumble recovery TD with :00 left to beat Oklahoma State 33-24. The loss knocked the Cowboys out of an automatic BCS bowl berth and opened the door for that honor to go to the winner of Texas-Baylor game. In that contest, Baylor broke away from a 3-3 halftime tie to drop the Longhorns 30-10 and wrap up a certain Fiesta Bowl bid. Baylor's last outright title came in 1980 in the Southwest Conference. Baylor was given co-champion status of the Southwest in 1994 after Texas A&M had to relinquish that title due to NCAA sanctions and the Owls shared it with Rice Texas, TCU and Texas Tech.

Also on Saturday, Rice knocked off Marshall 41-24 to win the CUSA crown. It's the first outright conference title for the Owls since taking those honors in the Southwest Conference in 1957. (See above paragraph regarding share of 1994 title).

Saturday night's final game to conclude was the Mountain West championship at Fresno State where the Bulldogs held off Utah State for a 24-17 victory and their first outright conference title since 1989 as a member of the Big West. Fresno State shared the 1991 Big West title, as well as the the 1992, 1993 and 1999 WAC crowns, and the 2012 Mountain West title. In two seasons under Tim DeRuyter, the Bulldogs and have shared or won the conference each season and compiled a 20-5 record.

Also on Saturday night, South Alabama whipped Louisiana-Lafayette 30-8 in Mobile. In doing so, the Jaguars became the 7th of the 8 Sun Belt teams to be bowl eligible. However, with a surplus of teams to pull from, USA has a 0% chance of getting a bid. UL-L (New Orleans) and Arkansas State (GoDaddy.com) have already accepted bids, and Western Kentucky (8-4) is the only other team in the conference with an above-.500 record.

It didn't take long for week 15 of the college season to cast its importance on the BCS bowl scenarios as the first game out produced the first team in.

The week kicked off on Thursday night with an overtime thriller in the cold and rain at Cincinnati that saw Louisville win 31-24. It meant an 11-1 season for Louisville, but it meant even more for UCF as the Golden Knights clinched the American Athletic Conference's automatic bid to a BCS bowl. UCF then went out and beat SMU 17-13 in Dallas on Saturday to finish 11-1.

The first of seven conference championship games was staged on Friday night in Detroit where Bowling Green ended the BCS-buster run of Northern Illinois with a 47-27 rout of the Huskies. The computer had projected a Bowling Green win by 5-1/2 points.

The MAC title is the first for Bowling Green since 1992 and 11th overall. The loss kept NIU from a three-peat.

COMPUTER SUCCESS:
In a difficult week for football predictions, the computer still managed a 7-7 record in picking the winners, and went 7-7 against the spread. For the season, it has forecasted the winner of 78% of all games played while hitting 57.2% against the spread.

CollegeFootballPoll.com's Feature Picks writer Mike Mitchell is 171-26 with his selections after going 1-3 this week. He is 114-83 against the spread. The computer was 1-1 in outright upset projections (1-1 ATS) and is now 43-45 straight up and 55-33 against the spread with those games.

The preseason forecast nailed the exact records of 30 teams and missed by 1 on 36 other schools. It also picked the winner of the Sun Belt and PAC-12 titles, in addition to the winners of both PAC-12 divisions, the Big Ten Leaders and the Mountain West Mountain division.

UNDEFEATED AND WINLESS TEAMS:
Only Florida State finished the season unbeaten. Georgia State and Miami (Ohio) were the only teams to go season winless.

FBS vs. FCS:
FBS schools were a collective 95-16 (.856) in FBS-FCS matches this season and are 831-81 (.911) since 2003.

Here are the results of the FBS losses to FCS schools this season:
8/29: Towson 33, Connecticut 18
8/29: Southern Utah 22, South Alabama 21
8/30: Samford 31, Georgia State 21
8/30: North Dakota State 24, Kansas State 21
8/31: Northern Iowa 28, Iowa State 20
8/31: Eastern Washington 49, Oregon State 46
8/31: Eastern Illinois 40, San Diego State 18
8/31: McNeese State 53, USF 21
9/7: UT-Chattanooga 42, Georgia State 14
9/7: Maine 24, Massachusetts 14
9/7: Nicholls State 27, Western Michigan 23.
9/14: Fordham 30, Temple 29
9/14: Bethune-Cookman 34, FIU 13
9/21: Jacksonville State 32, Georgia State 26 (OT)
11/9: Old Dominion 59, Idaho 38
11/23: Georgia Southern 26, Florida 20

Eastern Washington, McNeese State and North Dakota State also had wins vs. FBS teams last year.

Originally, 106 FBS schools scheduled a total of 110 games against FCS foes this year. But Colorado later replaced a game it lost vs. Fresno State (due to flooding) with Charleston Southern. Thus, 106 FBS schools played a total of 111 games vs. FCS foes. The schedule change also made Colorado the 4th FBS team to face at least two such schools this year. The others are Clemson and Georgia Tech with 2 apiece while FBS newcomer Georgia State scheduled 3 FCS teams and lost to each of them.

STREAKS:
Ohio State - 24-game winning streak (FBS longest) ended with 34-24 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship at Indianapolis on Saturday.

Northern Illinois - 25-game winning streak vs. conference foes ended when Bowling Green prevailed in the MAC Championship game. NIU still has streaks of 26 straight at home (FBS longest) and 15 straight true road games (FBS longest). Lost 47-27 vs. Bowling Green in the MAC Championship at Detroit on Friday.

LSU - Won 45 straight regular season nonconference games (FBS longest). Regular season complete.

Georgia State - Lost 16 straight (tied for FBS longest). Regular season complete.

Miami (Ohio) - Lost 16 straight (tied for FBS longest). Regular season complete.

Kansas - Lost 24 straight road games (FBS longest). Regular season complete.

Kentucky - Lost 16 straight conference games (FBS longest). Regular season complete.