- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
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Ohio State or Auburn? Auburn or Ohio State? Who deserves to be in the BCS national championship game? Ohio State is undefeated. Auburn, despite one loss, has the better resume -- including a win over the two-time defending national champion.
Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs certainly believes the SEC champion should get a shot at the national title.
“It would be, quite frankly, un-American for us not to get a chance to go to Pasadena if we’re able to beat Missouri, and I believe the same about Missouri,” Jacobs said during a radio interview Sunday.
The Auburn players share the same sentiment as their athletic director, but they still have one more game left to play. If Auburn loses to Missouri on Saturday, their argument goes for naught.
“Anytime a team goes through the SEC conference and wins the SEC championship, it’s big time,” defensive tackle Nosa Eguae said. “It’s something that’s monumental and means a lot. But we’re just worrying about Missouri. We’re worrying about getting better every single day, and Saturday will take care of itself.”
And Auburn should be concerned about Missouri. The SEC East winner’s only loss came in double overtime to South Carolina. Much like Auburn, Missouri has taken the SEC by storm and surprised a lot of people this year.
“When I look at Missouri, they do remind me of our team in a lot of ways,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “Their team has gotten better each week. They play together. They are very confident. They make plays when they have to. They have played in some big games, especially these last two weeks.
“They went to Ole Miss, which is a tough place to play, and they won. They played against the best player in college football in Texas A&M, and they shut him down for the most part. So you are talking about a team that can rise to the occasion.”
Not to mention, Missouri can make just as strong a case for the BCS title game as Auburn if it wins Saturday in Atlanta.
But Auburn knows that. The players know what’s at stake. The hard part won’t be getting up for the game. It will be keeping out the distractions, specifically the BCS talk, as they prepare for Saturday’s showdown.
"I haven't looked at the BCS,” fullback Jay Prosch said. “I can’t speak for the rest of my teammates, but I know that a lot of them have the same mentality as I do and that’s just that we’re thankful to be here and we know that we have a job to do Saturday. That’s our main focus.”
There’s still a chance that Florida State or Ohio State loses this weekend, and Auburn would play its way into the national championship with a win. If not, the Tigers have to hope for another miracle when the final BCS standings are released.
But the first order of business is Saturday’s SEC championship game.
“I’m really not worried about our team at all in that area,” Malzahn added. “This game is big enough. We are playing for the SEC championship, so they are going to be focused on that. There’s no doubt in my mind. We’ll worry about all of that afterward and see what happens.”
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