Most figured that Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State would be battling it out for two spots in the National Championship Game. But after the Crimson Tide's shocking loss to Auburn on Saturday, the national title picture has suddenly been thrown for a loop.
The Seminoles and Buckeyes are in the driver's seat due to their undefeated records, but the winner of the SEC Championship Game between Auburn and Missouri could make an argument for their inclusion in the title game as well.
Whatever the case, two of those four teams will almost certainly vie for the national championship at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 6, 2014.
Here is an in-depth look at the five likeliest National Championship Game scenarios along with projected odds for each.
Florida State vs. Ohio State
If chalk rules the day next week, then Florida State and Ohio State will meet in the National Championship Game.
Nobody will argue against the fact that the Seminoles are deserving as they have been dominant all season long behind freshman quarterback Jameis Winston. Florida State has a long history of college football dominance, but it has been a long time since they have reached the pinnacle of the sport, as ESPN's Darren Rovell details:
More than 50 million Americans weren't alive the last time Florida State was the AP #1 (10/1/2000)— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) December 1, 2013
Duke is a great story, but it's very difficult to imagine the Blue Devils upsetting the Seminoles in the ACC Championship Game. Ohio State's Big Ten Championship Game isn't quite as easy.
The Buckeyes will face a one-loss Michigan State team that boasts one of the most dominant defenses in college football. Provided Braxton Miller and the Ohio State offense can move the ball a little bit, the Spartans won't have the offense necessary to hang with the Buckeyes.
Projected Odds: 8-5
Florida State vs. Auburn
Aside from Florida State vs. Ohio State, the Seminoles taking on Auburn is the most likely National Championship Game. Some might argue that the Tigers should be ahead of Ohio State in the rankings even with a loss on their record, but that probably won't be the case.
Auburn has a more impressive win than anyone in the country this season after beating Alabama. And a win over Missouri in the SEC Championship Game, coupled with an Ohio State loss, would put Auburn in the title game.
It's possible that Florida State vs. Auburn would be the most competitive title game considering their contrasting styles.
The Tigers are among the best rushing teams in the nation with an average of more than 318 yards per game on the ground. Florida State can run the ball as well, but they also boast an explosive passing game behind Winston.
Based on how Auburn performed against Alabama, expect plenty of casual college football fans to be rooting against the Buckeyes next week.
Projected Odds: 5-1
Florida State vs. Missouri
Most observers wrote off Missouri after its difficult two-overtime loss to South Carolina several weeks ago, but it isn't out of National Championship Game contention even if it seems like a long shot at this point.
The Tigers have been one of the most surprising teams in the nation this season, and they can continue to be so by beating Auburn in the SEC Championship Game. Few saw this particular matchup coming in the SEC title game due to the struggles of both Missouri and Auburn last season, according ESPN Stats & Info.
Missouri clinches spot in SEC championship game vs Auburn. Those two teams were a combined 2-14 in SEC play last year.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 1, 2013
From an offensive standpoint, Missouri could be the most balanced and impressive team in the nation.
Running back Henry Josey did much of the work for the Tigers in their win over Texas A&M on Saturday, but the now-healthy James Franklin at quarterback adds a different dimension to the team.
It remains to be seen if Mizzou can stop the Auburn running attack, but it should be able to keep pace with Auburn offensively.
Unfortunately for Missouri, though, it needs Ohio State to lose as well in order for this scenario to play out.
Projected Odds: 15-1
Ohio State vs. Auburn
Which National Championship Game would you most like to see?
In the unlikely event that Florida State loses to Duke, the door will be wide open for the likes of Ohio State and the SEC Championship Game representatives.
The Buckeyes are far from guaranteed to beat Michigan State, but it's very difficult to fathom both Ohio State and Florida State losing next week. Assuming the Buckeyes get the job done and the Seminoles don't, Ohio State will be in line to play either Auburn or Missouri.
Auburn will unquestionably be favored in the SEC Championship Game after its win over Alabama. Auburn's incredible rush offense led by quarterback Nick Marshall and running back Tre Mason should give Mizzou's underrated offense fits.
Also, even though the odds of Ohio State making the National Championship Game are far greater than Auburn's, the Tigers may be installed as the favorites if they ultimately meet in the big game.
Projected Odds: 30-1
Ohio State vs. Missouri
If Florida State loses in the ACC Championship Game next week, then there is no reason why more chaos won't ensue.
Missouri vs. Auburn in the SEC Championship Game is one of the most intriguing matchups of the year, and it isn't inconceivable to think that Mizzou could have the upper hand. According to Nick Camino of The Sports Feed, Missouri may very well be the best team in college football this season.
I've watched a TON of college football. Yes, Florida State & Ohio State should be ranked No. 1 and No. 2. But Mizzou may be the best team.— Nick Camino (@NickCaminoWTAM) December 1, 2013
If that is true, then an upset win over Auburn could be in the cards.
It isn't difficult to see Missouri beating Auburn by any means, but the added element of Florida State losing puts this scenario at the bottom of the list.
Ohio State vs. Missouri could be the most exciting National Championship Game from an offensive fireworks perspective; however, a lot of wacky things need to happen next week in order for it to come to fruition.
Projected Odds: 50-1
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