Week 14 lived up to the hype and then some as Saturday's two most anticipated rivalry games delivered dramatic finishes.
Chris Davis' miraculous 100-plus-yard touchdown return as time expired in Auburn handed Alabama its first loss in over a year, while Tyvis Powell's interception on Michigan's two-point conversion attempt in the waning moments at the Big House powered Ohio State to its second straight undefeated regular season.
With one week of football left to play before the BCS becomes set in stone and bowl season arrives, let's take a look at the latest USA Today Coaches Poll heading into Week 15, as well as the updated B/R rankings:
|Rank||Team (first place votes)||Record||Points||B/R Rank|
|1||Florida State (58)||12-0||1546||1|
|2||Ohio State (4)||12-0||1462||2|
While Auburn's jaw-dropping win—which saw them score 13 points in the final 32 seconds to stun the Crimson Tide—wasn't enough to push them ahead of Florida State and Ohio State, it likely eliminates two-time defending national champion Alabama from the championship picture altogether.
Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee had high praise for his players after the upset win but understands that the Tigers have plenty work left to do, per AuburnTigers.com:
It’s a great honor to get to go to the SEC championship game and represent the West. Our guys have won big games this year and they’ve responded. Every time we’ve asked our guys to do something, they’ve responded. We are really going to enjoy this one tonight and go back to work Sunday.
Alabama's first loss of the year boosts Florida State into the top spot. The Seminoles destroyed rival Florida 37-7 in The Swamp. Jameis Winston threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns in the rout and will have one more chance to build on his Heisman case this coming weekend when Florida State battles Duke in the ACC Championship Game.
The surprising Blue Devils locked up the ACC Coastal Division and a trip to Charlotte with a last-minute win over North Carolina. It's been an impressive season for Duke, who will look to pull the huge upset against the top team in the nation.
Meanwhile, Ohio State's narrow victory elevates the Buckeyes to No. 2 in the USA Today Coaches Poll for the first time since Week 2. Braxton Miller and company aren't out of the woods yet, though, as they'll take on 11-1 Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis in Week 15.
Like the Buckeyes, the Spartans ran the table in the Big Ten this season, finishing 8-0. Michigan State's fourth-ranked scoring defense (11.8 points per game) and top-ranked run defense (64.8 yards per game) will likely cool off Ohio State's potent attack. The question is: Will the Spartans' offense do enough to spring the upset?
One team sure to be rooting for Michigan State on Saturday night is Auburn. If the Tigers can continue their improbable run with a win over Missouri in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday afternoon, they'll certainly be in the mix for a berth in the BCS National Championship Game.
Does the winner of the SEC Championship Game deserve a title shot?
Regardless of whether Auburn wins the conference and earns a title shot, at 12-1 head coach Gus Malzahn would be a lock to win Coach of the Year honors. Remember, this is an Auburn team that won three games all of last season and finished 0-8 in the conference.
But Gary Pinkel and Mizzou are no joke either. The Tigers' only blemish this season is a double-overtime loss to South Carolina. If they can end Auburn's eight-game winning streak in Atlanta and finish 12-1, they'll have a strong case as well.
With a handful of Top 25 teams in action, including several national championship contenders, Week 15 can't get here soon enough.
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