Sunday, December 8, 2013

Regular Season in the Rearview

And then there was... I generally don't like to toot my own horn, but two weeks ago, after Baylor's loss to Oklahoma State left America with three major undefeated teams, I wrote this: "There is a strong chance Ohio State will lose to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game, and in fact, I expect them to...I think there is a much bigger chance that only one of today's three unbeaten teams will still be unbeaten two weeks from today, than there is of all of them remaining unbeaten."

Right now part of me feels like a prophetic swami, but I know I'm not because all I was doing was looking at history and being realistic about the teams in this year's championship mix.

Say what you want about the BCS, but in its final year you have to admit that it almost always got it right. After Auburn vanquished Alabama, all the hypothetical controversy switched from "who should be left out of the title game if Alabama, Florida State, and Ohio State are all undefeated?" to "should one-loss Auburn leapfrog undefeated Ohio State because their schedule was so much tougher?" Then along came Michigan State to knock off the Buckeyes, and as last night turned into this morning all of the hypothetical nightmares disappeared like the mirages they always were.

Because teams with the same number of losses wound up vying for the second spot in the BCS Championship Game, strength of schedule and quality of wins became the tiebreaker -- and therefore Auburn's appearance in the game, which was confirmed a couple hours ago, is entirely uncontroversial. Everyone (even Alabama fans) admit Auburn is the team that belongs there, but I will toss out a few facts for the sole purpose of preserving them for posterity: The Tigers played thirteen opponents and only three of them finished the season without being invited to a bowl. They closed the season by beating two top-five opponents in eight days. One week after gashing Alabama's first-in-the-SEC rush defense for 296 yards on the ground, they gashed Missouri's secod-in-the-SEC rush defense for 545 yards on the ground. And "can't throw" QB Nick Marshall completed excellent clutch passes in both games, just like he has done throughout the year at key times.

Central Florida
I still don't know what to make of them. They finished the season away from home, playing in frigid temperatures with snow banks behind the sidelines, rallying from behind to beat SMU and clinch a spot in the Fiesta Bowl. That is objectively good, and I have several friends who went to UCF so it's not as if I dislike their program, but I just can't bring myself to rank them. Like I said before, they have too many hair-width wins against absolutely horrible opponents. I suspect that Baylor is going to embarrass them on New Year's Day.

Awards and look-backs
I will probably opine about such things sometime before the Heisman ceremony gets here, but right now I am winding up one very exhausting week and I have to get up early in the morning to start another one. So without further ado, here is the final pre-bowl Stanton's Space Top Twenty for the 2013 season:

1.    Florida State
2.    Auburn
3.    Alabama
4.    Michigan State
5.    Missouri
6.    Ohio State
7.    South Carolina
8.    Stanford
9.    Oklahoma State
10.  Baylor
11.  Oklahoma
12.  LSU
13.  Arizona State
14.  Oregon
15.  UCLA
16.  Clemson
17.  Wisconsin
18.  Duke
19.  Texas A&M
20.  USC


Scott Friedersdorf said...

Should be a heck of a game come Jan. 6th.

JDS said...

Yes it will, my friend! I have been having memories of chicanery at Casa Cordoba (was that what it was called?) in Tally, and of that midnight buffet we blew through at the truck stop outside of The Loveliest Village.

Scott Friedersdorf said...

Yes. Casa Cordoba is correct. Perlis truckstop had the best 2am buffet in all of Cusseta, AL.