For five teams, life in January will be rough.
Sure, they'll all be playing in bowl games, representing their universities with pride and dignity, as they roll into college football postseason play with their heads high and ready to make long-term believers out of their fans.
Still, the question lingers: What if?
For five teams, this year provided an opportunity to shine on a large scale, in fact on the biggest of scales college football can offer. But they will have to make due with their postseason fate, because there's still one game left, even if it's not what they originally wanted.
The Cougars of Houston looked to be this year's team making "The Case."
For those of you unfamiliar with "The Case," it involves a team from a minor conference going undefeated, winning their conference championship and essentially saying to the whole country, "Hey! We're undefeated, we won our conference, and we want a title shot!"
For Houston, their road ran into the Golden Eagles of Southern Miss. Cue the dream shattering.
Houston's argument was completely and totally nullified by Southern Miss, who defeated the Cougars 49-28 to win the Conference USA Championship. Now the Cougars will plummet in the rankings and might not even play after New Year's Eve, let alone New Year's Day.
See the sad faces?
As Trev Alberts was fond of saying, "You must be sound in the kicking game."
Boise State fans read that and sobbed, "YEAH? TELL THAT TO ALABAMA! ::SNIIIFFFF::"
Bronco Nation knows their season will not involve the BCS National Championship, and they may not make it into the BCS at all. They have an outside chance, but their missed extra point against TCU puts a sharper black mark on Boise State than most schools, as their weak schedule (seriously, only one Top 25 school?) will drag them down as it has in three of the last four years.
(You're about to see a theme of mine whenever I write about Boise State)
Maybe they should change that stupid blue turf.
Spartans QB Kirk Cousins walks off the field after losing the Big Ten Championship Game to Wisconsin, 42-39.
The football program at Michigan State had its biggest chance to ascend into the upper elite college football teams with another victory against No. 15 Wisconsin last night.
Instead, the Spartans let their dreams go in a heart-breaker with a bad ending.
Thanks to a roughing the kicker penalty, the Badgers of Wisconsin defeated Michigan State 42-39, leaving the Spartans out in the cold when it comes to the BCS. A victory over Wisconsin (after defeating them in the regular season thanks to a huge Hail Mary) would have solidified their place in the top echelon of the NCAA, where media attention, history and tradition are all created and cultivated.
But the Spartans are not Michigan. They don't have the profile and because of those two things, they will not be playing where they could have.
Hokies QB Logan Thomas is dragged down in a loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, 38-10.
Virginia Tech is undefeated. Against teams not named "Clemson."
That should count for something, right?
It doesn't. The Hokies have already fallen to 17th in the AP Poll, 11th in the USA Today Poll and are on the outside looking into the BCS. If the fact that Virginia Tech has played brilliantly besides those two losses to the Tigers helps them, it will be surprising, but Beamer Ball has little to be ashamed of with their record this season.
Except for maybe those two losses to Clemson. Did I mention that already?
Look at this happy guy.
He seems nice. Seems like he's having a real good time, and he has every reason to: his Oklahoma State Cowboys ended their season with a much-needed win over rival Oklahoma, and it wasn't even close.
Their rivalry morphed into an audition for the top game in the country, as the Cowboys made as strong a case as they could for why they should be included in the National Championship Game.
Too bad it's not happening. The Cowboys' one loss against Iowa State will haunt them forever, as it was a worse loss than No. 2 Alabama's one loss against No. 1 LSU.
As the country prepares for the rematch of the "Game of the Decade," one is left to wonder what would have been had Oklahoma State and LSU were to face off.