The confetti from Alabama's victory in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game is barely in the recycling bin, but the entire nation—including Nick Saban—is already looking ahead to the next, and final, BCS title game in 2014.
The SEC has had an unprecedented string of national championships and will be looking to finish out the modern BCS era with eight straight crystal footballs. But would that be the best scenario for the final BCS National Championship Game? Are there better matchups out there for 2014?
Since Alabama's head coach is already looking ahead to the 2013-14 season, that gives us license to do the same. Here are our picks for the seven best possible matchups for the 2014 BCS National Championship Game.
How could a repeat of the 2013 BCS National Championship Game possibly make the list of best 2014 matchups? After all, Alabama steamrolled Notre Dame in Miami, and no one—outside of die-hard SEC fans or Notre Dame haters—wants to see that again.
But as has so often been proven over the years, college teams can change dramatically from season to season.
And you can bet that this loss from 2013 will long linger on the minds of Notre Dame fans, coaches and players. What better way to exorcise the demons of 2013 by redemption in 2014? On top of that, it would be an interesting experiment in year-over-year gains and losses by both the Fighting Irish and Crimson Tide. If Brian Kelly says to use Alabama as the measuring stick, who are we to argue? (h/t MLive.com)
Measure yourselves against this. It's a great, great opportunity that we had here. It's disappointing we lost the football game, but it's going to make my job very easy when it comes to talking about how you win a national championship.
This was probably the 2013 title game many people around the country wanted to see, and in hindsight, probably should have seen.
The Oregon Ducks took it to the Kansas State Wildcats in a 2013 Fiesta Bowl blowout. While it wasn't quite as lopsided as the BCS title game, but the Ducks proved that they were deserving of a shot at the title.
When's that playoff start again?
With so many superstars returning for both programs, a long overdue meeting between the Ducks and Crimson Tide seems very possible. And there's little question it would be entertaining to see how that Oregon offense does against the suffocating SEC defense of Alabama.
It doesn't matter if you love the Irish or you hate the Irish, you can't laugh at the Irish any more.
OK, you can a little bit for their performance in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game, but looking at the totality of the program, we can't help but get the feeling that Notre Dame is on the verge of a dynastic return to glory, especially when you take a look at how recruiting is shaping up under Brian Kelly.
In fact, we get the same kind of feeling we have a half decade ago when Oregon decided it was time to introduce itself to the nation as the new up-and-coming national power. How great would it be if these two programs met in the title game next year? The Pac-12 power striving for its first national championship in program history against the once dominant college football mecca; that's a game a lot of people would find very entertaining.
For two great, historic programs located just a few hours' drive apart, it's odd that Georgia and Florida State have met just 11 times. The last regular-season meeting was in 1965 and there have been just two bowl collisions since (1984 Florida Citrus Bowl and 2003 Sugar Bowl).
Apparently, there isn't much desire for these two could-be rivals to start up a series, so we're left waiting for more bowl matchups.
With the success both programs have had over the past few seasons, it's not completely out of the realm of possibility to see the both teams atop their respective conferences when the 2013 season comes to a close. We can almost guarantee the SEC champ will get a spot in Pasadena, but what about an ACC trip out west?
Win or lose, SEC fans could at least hang their hats on a team from the South taking home the crystal football.
After Teddy Bridgewater and the Louisville Cardinals absolutely dismantled then-No. 3 Florida in the 2013 Sugar Bowl, we're beginning to wonder just how far the Cardinals are capable of going.
OK, it's hard to imagine even an undefeated Big East champion earning a spot in the BCS National Championship Game, even if that team wins the conference in dominating fashion. But after Louisville's performance against the Gators, the “Big Least” moniker isn't being thrown around quite as often.
The Big East is rumored to be on the verge of utter collapse. Even the non-football schools (all of them private Catholic colleges) followed Notre Dame's lead and bolted the conference once regarded as the end-all and be-all of basketball prowess.
If there's anything that could possibly save the conference's sponsorship of football—or perhaps the conference as a whole—it would be Louisville earning a trip to Pasadena for the 2014 BCS National Championship Game.
Teddy Bridgewater winning the 2013 Heisman Trophy wouldn't hurt either.
For LSU, 2013 proved to be another season of not quite living up to its potential.
The Tigers looked a little rough early in the season, barely sliding past a terrible Auburn team and putting up a less-than-inspiring effort against FCS Towson. Things improved a bit down the stretch, but a one-point loss to Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl belied how far LSU really was from national championship form this past season.
But the moment anyone sleeps on the Tigers is the moment before Les Miles' team comes up and stomps you flat. The Tigers are losing seven defensive starters heading into next season, but we believe the deep SEC talent pool in Baton Rouge will be sufficient to ensure LSU is a contender in 2013.
And how about the Stanford Cardinal?
Just when you thought the “good old days” were leaving the Farm along with Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh, David Shaw shows up and engineers a Pac-12 title and Rose Bowl Game championship—two things the Cardinal haven't had in the same season since the 1971 season. With 17 returning starters (including 10 on defense) for 2013, don't be surprised if the Cardinal are an early Pac-12 favorite.
The last BCS National Championship Game to feature two non-SEC teams was the 2006 Rose Bowl Game between Texas and USC.
SEC folks will surely go ballistic over this selection, but from a truly national college football standpoint, this would probably be the best-case scenario for most fans.
In reality, it wouldn't be all that bad for the SEC, either. Just think for a moment; the SEC falls just short in the final installment of the current BCS system before moving to a mini-playoff in 2014-15. Rather than confidently (and, some might say arrogantly) strolling into the new system flush with success, the SEC instead has its feathers ruffled at bit. From the first kickoff of the first season to end in a playoff of sorts, the SEC is intensely motivated to prove that the 2014 title by another conference was a pure fluke.
Sometimes a setback can lead to greater success in the future.
Of course, if this happens—especially without a single SEC playing for the 2014 title—the rest of the nation would be subjected to the nettlesome rantings of southern football fans about how “unfair” it was the conference couldn't defend it's title. And hasn't the rest of the nation put up with SEC fans long enough?
Many people in the United States would love to see the SEC shut out of the 2014 BCS National Championship Game. It would be sweeter to gain a victory over the dominating Southeastern Conference, but with it placating so much of the nation and setting up the SEC for a 2015 revenge tear through the country, we can't help but place the SEC-less BCS championship game matchup at the top of our list.
Because who wants to watch Bob Stoops lose another BCS game?
The Buckeyes need a quarterback who can throw the ball before they'll be close to national championship ready. Overtime wins over Purdue and one-point victories against Michigan State won't cut it.
The Wolverines still need a few more traditional Michigan-esque, Brady Hoke-engineered recruiting classes before the Big Ten title comes back to Ann Arbor.
Anyone who watched the Trojans play from about October on knows why USC didn't make the list.
Jadeveon Clowney is a beast, but the Gamecocks will need more than one dominant defensive end to win the SEC.
Defense wins championships, but offense gets you to the game. Florida doesn't have an offense. Yet.
You get our hopes up every year, Clemson, only to let us down by continually failing when it matters most.
Johnny Manziel is certainly a great quarterback, but there will be some legitimate questions on defense for the Aggies in 2013 and more than enough teams to really mess up any hopes of a title run. There's also that post-Heisman curse to worry about...