Championship Saturday is here, which can only mean one thing—several teams are sure to have hearts broken as BCS rankings are dashed after failing to win a conference championship.
Talk about a double whammy.
It is bad enough to lose a conference title game. It is another thing entirely to take a dive in the BCS rankings and potentially miss out on a BCS bowl game—or in some cases, a national championship berth.
Alas, Saturday's action will not have a storybook ending for all. Everyone involved, including the fans, know this going into the day. That does not make it any easier to handle.
No. 20 Duke Blue Devils
Perhaps the fans most understanding of their team's fate Saturday are those who root for Duke, otherwise known as a school that specializes in dribbling the ball.
The football edition of the Blue Devils have done much to buck that notion this year and ride an eight-game winning streak and a 10-2 record into their matchup with No. 1 Florida State. It is the school's first winning season since going 8-4 in 1994.
David vs Goliath? Here's a look at the ACC Championship Game matchup between Duke and Florida State: pic.twitter.com/EkdWsszoAI— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 30, 2013
There are a few problems with this matchup. For one, Florida State averages 53.7 points. Not only is Duke's highest output this year just 48, the defense allows 23 on average—a number that will be highly inflated when Jameis Winston (3,490 yards and 35 touchdowns) gets a shot at the unit.
College GameDay's Twitter account has a chilling stat for this ACC matchup:
Florida State has won all 18 meetings vs Duke by an average of 34 points! #DUKEvsFSU— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) December 2, 2013
The Blue Devils have turned the program around this season and can build on this for the future, but picked a bad time to do so with Florida State looking like the national title favorite.
No. 7 Stanford Cardinal
At first glance, the No. 7 Stanford Cardinal appear to have an advantage in the Pac-12 Championship against the No. 11 Arizona State Sun Devils. After all, the Cardinal won the Pac-12 this year over the Sun Devils, 42-28.
Which team wins?
This time the conference rivals do their dance in Tempe, Ariz., where the Sun Devils are 7-0 on the season. This does not bode well for the Cardinal, a team with two losses on the year—both away from home.
The Sun Devils have had time to change their approach. Arizona State now understands that the key to beating Stanford is running back Tyler Gaffney, who rushed 18 times for 87 yards and two scores when these two last met.
Stanford is not changing its offensive approach. Neither is an Arizona State offense that has scored more than 50 points six times this season.
The Sun Devils will even the series this year, which means a significant drop is in store for the Cardinal.
No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State may have won 24 straight, but as College GameDay and ESPN point out, not everything may be what it seems:
13 opponents during Ohio State’s 24-game winning streak had 3 or fewer conference wins. #FallicaFacts— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) December 7, 2013
Urban Meyer is 24-0 as Ohio State head coach, but Michigan State is 1st AP Top-10 opponent the Buckeyes will face under Meyer.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 7, 2013
Regardless of the streak's credibility, one thing is certain—the Buckeyes have not encountered a defense as formidable as the unit No. 10 Michigan State fields.
The Spartans rank No. 4 in the nation, allowing an average of just 11.8 points. Ohio State faithful can point to the No. 3 scoring offense that averages 48.2 points, but one has to wonder if the number is inflated by a weak schedule.
Two teams have scored more than 20 points on the Spartans this year. Six have failed to reach 10 points.
Something has to give in Indianapolis, and it won't be the Michigan State defense. The Buckeyes are coming off an emotional win in which 7-5 Michigan almost pulled off the upset, 42-41.
This has the makings of a game that causes the Buckeyes to slip up with everything on the line.