With only the conference championship games left to play prior to bowl season, the BCS picture is as chaotic as ever. If things go as expected next week, however, the BCS National Championship Game should feature a battle of unbeatens.
The Florida State Seminoles and Ohio State Buckeyes essentially control their own destinies when it comes to punching their tickets to Pasadena:
Alabama entered Saturday's slate of games looking to solidify its place atop the rankings, but there was one very difficult hurdle to clear. Auburn proved that it is for real by upsetting the Crimson Tide in unbelievable fashion. Chris Davis' 100-plus-yard touchdown return off a missed 57-yard field goal at the end of regulation gave Auburn an improbable victory over the former No. 1 team in the country.
Nick Saban's Crimson Tide have been the most dominant team in college football over the past few years, but it is now time for a new team to take the crystal football. Not only does Alabama's loss open the door for some different teams, but it also opens the door for different conferences.
The national champion has come from the SEC in seven straight seasons, but that won't be the case this year, provided Florida State and Ohio State are able to get the job done.
The Seminoles continued their surprising surge to the top with a win over the Florida Gators to cap their spectacular regular season. The Seminoles' talent was obvious entering the season, but few expected them to reach this level so quickly.
Florida State lost quarterback EJ Manuel to the NFL, but super freshman Jameis Winston stepped up and never looked back. He is unquestionably the Heisman Trophy favorite now that the likes of Johnny Manziel and Marcus Mariota have multiple losses. And as important as that is, the even bigger accomplishment is that the Seminoles are one win away from playing for all the marbles.
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The Florida game looked like an extremely difficult one on paper heading into the season, but the Gators entered the tilt on a six-game losing streak, including a loss to the FCS' Georgia Southern. Florida State took care of business as expected, 37-7, and has now ascended to No. 1 in the standings.
A new No. 2 team has emerged as well by virtue of Ohio State's win over Michigan at the Big House. The Buckeyes completed their second consecutive undefeated regular season under head coach Urban Meyer, and while they needed help from Auburn, they are now likely a win over Michigan State away from meeting Florida State for the title.
Last year, Ohio State was ineligible due to a postseason ban, but that is no longer a factor. OSU would have had a legitimate gripe had it been left out of the national championship this season, especially with the College Football Playoff looming next season. But the Buckeyes now hold their fate in their own hands.
Most of the focus is on the top two for good reason, but there are other teams worth monitoring as well. The overall BCS picture is still quite unsettled with the conference championship games left to be played.
Teams like Auburn (No. 3), Missouri (No. 5), Oklahoma State (No. 6), Stanford (No. 7) and Michigan State (No. 10) all figure to factor in to some degree, but it remains to be seen exactly which bowls they will be placed in. There is a great deal of parity outside the top three, so there are some potentially tantalizing matchups to consider.
In addition, a non-AQ school finds itself with a chance to crash the party in the form of No. 14 Northern Illinois. The Huskies are getting used to this as they played Florida State in the Orange Bowl last season. They were thoroughly outclassed, but it was nice to see the Mid-American Conference team on the big stage.
With dual-threat quarterback Jordan Lynch playing better than ever, Northern Illinois is definitely a threat to knock off one of the big boys.
No. 23 Fresno State found itself in a similar position entering the week, but a surprising loss to San Jose State knocked the Bulldogs out of contention. As long as Northern Illinois defeats Bowling Green in the MAC Championship Game, though, one of the non-BCS conferences will still be well represented.
The season has almost reached its conclusion, but there is still one pivotal week to be contested before things are settled.
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