Buckeyes, Seminoles and SEC Creating Fitting End to BCS Era

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Buckeyes, Seminoles and SEC Creating Fitting End to BCS Era
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

It is unclear how the history books will view the BCS era of college football, but the 2013 season is coming together almost like a Hollywood screenplay to tie up 16 years of storylines.

In November, the upsets, the debate and the teams involved in the final weekend could not encapsulate the previous 15 years any better.

Let's start with the five competitors remaining for the national title. With the exception of having Oklahoma and USC involved, it would be difficult to pick a more representative group of teams from this era.

In fact, these five teams make for a perfect wedding in college football.

 

Something old

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State represents the early part of the BCS era, when the Seminoles were in the midst of 14 consecutive top-five finishes in the national rankings. FSU ranks third nationally with seven BCS appearances, including one national championship in three consecutive championship game appearances from 1999 to 2001.

Florida State has not won a BCS championship since 2000, so the resurgence of this program is a fitting bookend to the BCS.

 

Something new

The SEC has dominated the end of the BCS era, winning the last seven BCS Championships. Alabama, in particular, has owned the crystal trophy each of the past four seasons (Alabama three times, Auburn once).

Not surprisingly, the SEC represents three of the five remaining title contenders, as the Alabama schools and Missouri are next in line should OSU or FSU stumble. Alabama is one of only five schools that has played in at least three championship games in this era, matching the Seminoles.

 

Something borrowed

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

Missouri is quite the surprising team to be making an appearance in the SEC Championship this weekend, yet the Tigers represent one of the hallmarks that dominated the BCS era—conference realignment.

How Missouri fits into the footprint of the Southeastern Conference, nobody knows; however, the Tigers have proven this program fits right with the other frequent title contenders in the best conference in college football. It's a fitting and symbolic inclusion to the BCS chase.

 

Something blue

Blue-blooded, that is. Ohio State is another of the five teams that has played for three BCS Championships (Oklahoma and LSU are the others not in this race). Ohio State has played the most BCS bowl games—nine.

The Buckeyes have been the most constant force percolating back to the national championship chase time and time again, while dynasties, such as Florida State, Miami, USC and Alabama, come and go.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State also has an interesting bookend game this weekend to get into the championship.  An unranked Michigan State squad (led by Nick Saban, no less) upset the No. 1 Buckeyes late in 1998 and prevented that team from playing in the first BCS Championship. Now the same nemesis stands in the way once again, and how fitting would it be for Michigan State to rise up and deny the Buckeyes at the beginning and end of the BCS era?

 

Are those wedding bells or funeral bells?

It could be unclear with this great mixture leading to one final weekend of BCS debate. The playoff debates begin after that, but the final BCS debate is one for the ages before laying this system to rest.

On one side, you have two undefeated teams, but Florida State and Ohio State have both largely played nobody, dominating in perhaps the weakest of the five major BCS conferences. The Seminoles handled the only big test at Clemson, while Ohio State held off Wisconsin at home and will have the biggest test of the season this Saturday against Michigan State.

Especially in the case of Ohio State, the resume is just not that good when looking past the obvious 12-0 record. A win over Michigan State will help, but the Buckeyes have survived and struggled in many spots.

On the other side, you have three SEC teams with one loss.

The conference that holds the last seven crystal footballs has received the benefit of the doubt multiple times when multiple conferences have had one-loss teams competing for a spot in the BCS Championship. LSU even made this championship in 2007 with two overtime losses!

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

In sum, five of the seven championships won by the SEC were won by teams with at least one loss. In each case, those teams were picked over many other teams with identical records; however, the SEC "benefit of the doubt" has never caused a one-loss SEC champion to pass an undefeated major BCS conference champion.

So will history be made in leaving Ohio State out, thanks to the SEC teams naturally having better resumes because of the conference they play in? Or will the SEC streak be slayed by two undefeated teams that only played perhaps one game as tough as the losses each of the SEC competitors suffered (Alabama at No. 3 Auburn, Auburn at No. 15 LSU and Missouri vs. No. 8 South Carolina without starting quarterback).

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State has won 24 games in a row. The state of Alabama has won four national championships in a row. One of those streaks will be rendered meaningless.

Are seven straight national championships good enough to make a resume better with one loss than another with zero? This is a great debate that should be thoroughly enjoyed, as it will not be the same when four or more teams are involved and a selection committee works in private.

One thing's for sure: We should all be thankful that the political debates and forces did not result in "four more years" of BCS to be imposed.

For now, whether you have a horse in this championship chase or not, enjoy the final ride of the BCS era. The end of this 16-year period of college football history really could not have been scripted better.

In other words, there's even more reason to celebrate this final season of the BCS.

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