When the BCS bowl matchups are finalized, there will be a few unhappy campers in Columbus and some rather elated fans in Auburn, Ala. The latest BCS standings have Ohio State at No. 2 behind No. 1 Florida State.
Despite the Auburn Tigers' thrilling win over No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, the team only rose one spot to No. 3 in the standings. After the smoke settles on Saturday, the Buckeyes won't be able to hold Auburn at bay any longer.
Here's the way I predict the Top 10 of the BCS standings will look after Week 15. The chart is followed by a detailed look at the key games that will create the following BCS bowl matchups.
|BCS Title Game||Jan. 6||Pasadena, Calif..||Florida State vs. Auburn|
|Orange||Jan. 3||Miami, Fla.||Clemson vs. Alabama|
|Sugar||Jan. 2||New Orleans, La.||Baylor vs. UCF|
|Fiesta||Jan. 1||Glendale, Ariz.||Okla. State vs. N. Illinois|
|Rose||Jan. 1||Pasadena, Calif.||Michigan State vs. Stanford|
Sparty is Going to Ruin the Buckeyes' Plans
Ohio State has run roughshod over most of the teams it has faced this season with its ground game, but on Saturday, Urban Meyer's team will meet the nation's No. 1 defense. The Buckeyes average 321 yards per game on the ground, but the Spartans surrender just 64.7. Something has to give.
The Bucks' run game is too good to be shut down completely, but there is no way it goes for 250-plus against Michigan State. During the 2013 season, Ohio State faced just one team with a run defense ranked in the top 10 in the nation. That team was Wisconsin.
Against Wisconsin, the Buckeyes ran for 192 yards, which is by far its lowest total of the year. The Bucks won the game 31-24, but when you consider the Spartans front seven led by Denicos Allen is even better than Wisconsin's, it makes you wonder if even less success is in store on Saturday.
Last week, the Buckeyes barely survived the unranked Michigan Wolverines, 42-41 on the road. The Spartans manhandled the Wolverines—albeit at home—29-6. Look for Michigan State to win an ugly game with their defense, clutch play from Connor Cook and an underrated rushing attack led by Jeremy Langford.
He has a string of seven straight games with 100 yards or more. He'll key the Spartans' offense and help send the team to the Rose Bowl. The loss for Ohio State will be especially costly since it'll probably push them out of a BCS bowl.
Their 12-1 record and relatively soft schedule is likely to produce a berth in the Capital One Bowl. That's one heck of a drop.
The Spartans' opponents in the Rose Bowl should be the No. 7-ranked Stanford Cardinal, but it still has to beat the No. 14 Arizona State Sun Devils. While ASU is no easy win, the Cardinal defense, which is ranked 16th in the nation, will set the pace, and the offensive line will dominate. In Week 4, Stanford ran for 240 yards en route to a 42-28 win over the Sun Devils.
Expect a similar result in the rematch.
Auburn Will Hold Serve and Land in the BCS Title Game
The Missouri Tigers are no pushover, but if Alabama couldn't slow Auburn's run game, Mizzou won't be able to either. The Tigers from the Show Me State also don't have the athletes at the skill positions Bama has. Furthermore, their quarterback, James Franklin isn't as accurate as AJ McCarron.
For all the talk about McCarron being a game manager, his 277 yards and three scores is what made a Tide win even possible on Saturday.
With all the great athletes and talent on Bama's side, their senior quarterback and a few others were the only ones who didn't play tight against Auburn. I'm not sure Franklin can produce the type of game needed to beat Auburn.
Auburn's quarterback, Nick Marshall, proved himself to be quite the dual threat against Bama. The Tide tried to commit extra defenders to slow the running game, but Marshall made the requisite throws to keep Bama's defense honest.
This team is on a mission, and Missouri won't stop them. Their solid season and the Buckeyes' loss should give them an opportunity at a BCS bowl. However, because of the rule that prevents three teams from the same conference, Missouri won't get a BCS bowl berth.
Yeah, it gets really complicated.
Florida State and Northern Illinois Will Roll
The No. 1-ranked Seminoles are going to crush the No. 20-ranked Duke Blue Devils en route to the BCS title game. This team is on a mission and the ACC championship is a mere stepping stone to its ultimate goal. It isn't letting overconfidence or potential distractions get in its way.
Duke will give a spirited effort, but the Blue Devils are overmatched in almost every facet in this one.
The countries' third undefeated team, Northern Illinois, is on pace to play in the Fiesta Bowl. Barring an unexpected loss to Bowling Green in the Mid-American Conference championship game, Jordan Lynch will get a chance to show the nation his extraordinary talent.
The Huskies are really a Big Ten team playing in a conference where its opponents are inferior. Lynch and Co. will prove that by smashing Bowling Green on Saturday.
Oklahoma State Won't Let Oklahoma Create Chaos Atop Big 12
If the Sooners can upset the Cowboys, it'll open up the possibilities for Baylor to leap into the top spot in the Big 12. That would lead to the Bears earning a berth in the Fiesta Bowl opposite Northern Illinois, should it win as expected.
Don't expect the Cowboys to allow that to happen. Were it not for one really bad loss to West Virginia early in the season, the Cowboys would be the No. 2 team in the nation behind Florida State.
Its 32-point manhandling of Baylor was one of the most impressive wins of the year by any team. To hold a team that had been averaging 70 points per game to just 17 is amazing. Oklahoma's run defense proved vulnerable against Baylor and others this season.
The Cowboys have a pass-happy offense, but don't be surprised to see Desmond Roland have a big day against the Sooners. Oklahoma State will play in the Fiesta Bowl and Baylor will still sneak into a BCS bowl on a technicality, though Missouri is more deserving.
Clemson vs. Alabama Isn't a Bad Orange Bowl at All
Though Clemson and Bama will be idle on Saturday, both teams have had solid seasons. Clemson is a virtual lock to play in the Orange Bowl, unless the Noles lose to Duke. Bama should be an attractive choice to the Orange Bowl committee because well—it's Alabama.
While the Tide should win this matchup, you'll be hard pressed to find a game with more future NFL players on the field at one time.