The final obstacle is finally out of the way, and many of the nation's best college football teams are simply awaiting their invitation to one of the prestigious BCS bowl games.
If only it were that easy for these teams, though. It has been far from that, as a relatively quiet college football season transformed into a chaotic, unpredictable display of games that left us guessing until the final whistle of conference championship weekend.
Let's take a look at how each BCS bowl is likely to shake out heading into the postseason.
|BCS Bowl Predictions|
|National Championship||Florida State vs. Auburn|
|Rose Bowl||Stanford vs. Michigan State|
|Fiesta Bowl||Baylor vs. UCF|
|Sugar Bowl||Alabama vs. Oregon|
|Orange Bowl||Clemson vs. Ohio State|
BCS National Championship: Florida State vs. Auburn
Just like everybody predicted a few months back, a team from the state of Alabama is playing Florida State for the national title. But it's not Nick Saban's Crimson Tide.
Instead, Auburn completed its magical ride to Pasadena with more fireworks. The Tigers disposed of Missouri by hanging 59 points on their top-five opponent, in the SEC championship, no less.
With a little help from Ohio State's Big Ten title game loss to Michigan State, War Eagle strolled into the national-championship party, and an undefeated foe is waiting for them.
Jameis Winston—a sure-thing Heisman Trophy winner—has led his Florida State squad to lopsided victory after lopsided victory. As all of the Seminoles' company at the top of the rankings has fallen by the wayside in recent weeks, Winston and company are only getting better.
Will Florida State's stingy defense that only lets up 10.7 points per contest be able to handle Auburn's unstoppable ground attack? Can the Tigers' defensive backs hold up against Winston and the 'Noles' big-play receivers? That will likely decide the national title.
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Oregon
It's the matchup we've all been waiting for—just with a slight change of scenery.
After the Iron Bowl ended in spectacular fashion, Alabama was left licking its wounds thanks to one second left on the clock that resulted in a Chris Davis touchdown return off a field-goal attempt. Had Florida State found a way to slip up against Duke, the Tide could've found their way into the national title game, but that wasn't about to happen.
Instead, AJ McCarron's Tide will have to settle for the Sugar Bowl and play against a two-loss Oregon team that they were pegged to play against in Pasadena for much of the college football season.
There will be speed on display in this one, and lots of it. Oregon's playmakers on the outside are as fast as any athlete in college football, while Alabama blends its uncanny speed with a heap of strength.
It's not often that we're fortunate enough to see a national-championship-caliber game outside the title matchup in the BCS, but it's looking like we'll get one this year.
Rose Bowl: Stanford vs. Michigan State
Two teams with similar strengths and game plans will face off in the Rose Bowl when Stanford plays Michigan State.
Winners of the Pac-12, the Cardinal took care of Arizona State in the conference title game to punch their ticket to Pasadena for the prestigious bowl. Tyler Gaffney has been a monster this season behind that power offensive line, and Stanford has been unstoppable on the ground against a number of teams.
Enter Michigan State. The Spartans boast one of the best defenses in college football, giving up just 12.7 points per game—fourth in the FBS. Just as well, Jeremy Langford is incredibly reliable on the ground and had a huge game to beat Ohio State in the Big Ten title game.
Two losses may have prevented David Shaw's group from contending for a national championship, and Michigan State was left out of the conversation with one loss, but the Rose Bowl is a national title in itself for Pac-12 and Big Ten teams. Expect this to be one of the most exciting bowl games of the postseason.