- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Fifteen years of controversy and consternation ended without debate or disagreement Sunday night when the final BCS standings were released. The matchup seemingly set in stone about 20 hours earlier became reality, as No. 1 Florida State will face No. 2 Auburn in the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 6 in Pasadena, Calif.
Any lingering BCS defenders can point to Sunday’s standings and note how things usually work themselves out despite all the hand-wringing. There would be a different tone if Ohio State had held off Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game, but the Spartans’ rally ensured that the much-maligned league wouldn’t have a team in the top two, while the SEC could aim for eight straight titles.
Mark Dantonio and his players have a lot of new friends in The Loveliest Little Village on The Plains.
While Florida State continued its season-long dominance in the ACC championship game against Duke, locking up the top spot in the BCS standings, Auburn completed its incredible run to the national title game by running over Missouri in the SEC championship game. Gus Malzahn’s team was No. 11 in the initial BCS standings and No. 7 in mid-November. Then the Prayer at Jordan-Hare happened, followed by the Kick Six.
But Auburn needed an Ohio State loss to complete its rise into the top two. Ohio State’s lead in last week’s standings likely would have been enough to hold off the Tigers otherwise. But Auburn’s good fortune continued, and the Tigers will now play for a crystal football for the second time in a wild four-year span. Auburn actually isn’t too far behind Florida State in the final standings, as the Tigers are No. 1 in two of the six computer ratings systems.
A Florida State loss to Duke would have set up an Iron Bowl rematch in the title game, as Alabama rises to No. 3 in the final standings. Alabama and Auburn have captured the past four national championships.
The SEC finishes with four teams in the top 10 of the final standings, while the Big Ten and Pac-12 each have two representatives. The SEC has seven teams in the final Top 25, followed by five from the Pac-12 and each three from the Big Ten, ACC and Big 12.
The BCS system rewarded teams from smaller conferences for much of the past 15 years, but there are no true BCS busters in the final year. Northern Illinois’ loss to Bowling Green in the MAC championship game knocked the Huskies to No. 23, behind No. 15 UCF, the lowest-rated champion from an automatic qualifying conference. Although the Knights weren’t overly impressive down the stretch, their Oct. 18 win over No. 18 Louisville ended up giving them their first BCS bowl berth.
So that’s it for the BCS, which makes a surprisingly serene exit. Few will be sorry to see it go. Fewer will dispute that its final version got things right.