The BCS era as we know it came to a close on Jan. 6, when the Florida State Seminoles engineered an amazing comeback to topple the Auburn Tigers 34-31 in the BCS Championship game.
That result ended the SEC’s reign of dominance—a stretch that included seven straight national titles for the conference—and put the ACC (and FSU) back on top for the first time since 1999.
It certainly was a thrilling way to close out a highly controversial, oft-debated era and left almost zero debate as to who the rightful champion is of 2013. Regardless, the rest of the Top 25 is certainly up for discussion, and many are going to feel that the voters in the AP and USA Today Coaches polls made grave errors in their decisions.
Let’s take a look at how each of these final rankings looks and highlight a few teams that many fans believe deserve to be slotted higher.
Complete AP and USA Today rankings can be found here.
|1||Florida State (60)||14-0||1,500||1|
|1||Florida State (59)||14-0||1,475||1|
Michigan State at No. 3
The Spartans finished the 2013 campaign with just a single loss and a solid 24-20 Rose Bowl victory against Stanford, which was ranked No. 5 at kickoff.
Instead of vaulting up to No. 2 behind the ‘Noles upon dispatching the Cardinal, MSU was placed at No. 3 in the final standings by both the AP and USA Today voters. Auburn faltered—albeit in the final moments as a major underdog—in the title game and was still given the runner-up distinction by both organizations, despite finishing the year with two blemishes on its record.
While SEC and Tiger fans may feel this is fair because of how Auburn hung tough against the nation’s best team on the biggest stage, many in East Lansing and around the country can’t help but feel that Michigan State was robbed.
It didn’t help Auburn’s case when Alabama, the Tigers’ bitter rival and opponent they vanquished in an epic Iron Bowl showing to make the SEC Championship Game, was handed an embarrassing 45-31 loss in the Sugar Bowl by a two-loss Oklahoma Sooners program.
Which team deserves to be No. 2?
This is exactly why a playoff will be beneficial to college football and allow the four best teams to duke it out against one another. The system surely won’t be perfect and is almost certainly going to be rife with controversy, but it should see the wheat separated from the chaff more often than not.
For now, MSU will have to settle with the No. 3 ranking and use it as motivation to improve in 2014.
UCF at No. 10 and Below
The Central Florida Knights are another one-loss team that isn’t getting enough respect from pollsters.
UCF finished the year being ranked No. 10 and No. 12 by the AP and USA Today voters, respectively, despite finishing the year with a single loss and a highly impressive Fiesta Bowl win against Baylor.
The Knights' status in the final standings is only a small rise from where they finished the regular season. Despite running away with the American Athletic Conference title, this team was viewed as a pretender and given a No. 15 ranking by both organizations.
Does UCF deserve more respect?
While Baylor wasn’t the toughest opponent in the nation, it was definitely up there. The Bears were ranked No. 6 at the start of the contest, having dropped a single regular-season game against Oklahoma State.
As winners of the Big 12, this group was given a fair amount of respect—especially due to its high-powered offense that averaged 52.4 points per game, the most in the nation.
UCF came into the showdown as a major underdog and ran away with a 10-point victory in a shootout. Quarterback Blake Bortles established himself as a bona fide star, connecting on three touchdown passes and running in another.
Don’t be surprised if the Knights ride their nine-game winning streak into next season with a chip on their shoulder and repeat as conference champs.