Source: USA TODAY
In the past week, debate has raged on as to who deserves to eventually play for the national title. Does a one-loss SEC team have more merit than Ohio State? Will Ohio State even win? Can Duke upset Florida State? Dozens more scenarios have been cooked up, but we’ll spare you the details.
This is nothing new. The BCS era has produced some memorable, wild finishes in the last weekend of the season, and we take a look back at the most chaotic.
1. 2007: Missouri and West Virginia were ranked first and second respectively in the BCS entering the season’s final weekend. They both lost. The Tigers fell to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game while the Mountaineers were edged 13-9 by rival Pittsburgh, destroying both teams’ dreams of a national championship game appearance. Ohio State and LSU wound up sneaking in.
2. 2003: Oklahoma entered the week sitting No. 1 in the BCS standings but was destroyed by Kansas State in the Big 12 title game. USC was No. 2 and beat Oregon State. LSU was No. 3 and topped Georgia in the SEC title game. The result? Even with the loss, Oklahoma some stayed No. 1 while USC was leapfrogged by LSU, who took the No. 2 spot and a berth in the national championship.
3. 1998: The first season of the BCS saw a massive shakeup in the season’s final weekend. No. 2 UCLA and No. 3 Kansas State both lost, opening the door for No. 4 Florida State to set up a matchup with No. 1 Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl. Being the inaugural year with the system, there was understandably some confusion. “Nobody can mess it up now, can they?” Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said after Kansas State lost. “I mean nobody behind us can go ahead of us, right?”
4. 2001: Miami was the easy No. 1 and had an open week, but No. 2 Tennessee lost in the SEC title game. This opened the door for No. 3 Nebraska (who didn’t even win their own division in the Big 12) to find its way into the Rose Bowl against Miami. Many argued that Colorado or Oregon should have been No. 2 rather than Nebraska.
5. 2006: Ohio State was sitting pretty at No. 1 after beating then-No. 2 Michigan in their final game of the season and were virtually assured a shot in the national championship game. USC was No. 2 entering the weekend and just needed to beat rival UCLA to earn its third consecutive spot in the national championship. While the Trojans lost, No. 4 Florida won the SEC title game and managed to jump all the way to No. 2 as No. 3 Michigan sat idle.
– Busy day in the college football world, as the state’s attorney office announced no criminal charges would be brought against Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. Dan Wolken was on the scene, and just about everyone involved came out looking bad.
– With the unsavory case closed, the Heisman Trophy race is all but settled. In all likelihood, Winston will win by a landslide.
– Nicole Auerbach has a fantastic story on “football school” Duke. Coach David Cutcliffe says he and his staff identified every reason a recruit wouldn’t want to come to Duke to figure out just how to fix those issues.
– In this week’s USA TODAY Sports staff picks, we’re split on the Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12 title games.
– Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs announced the school is prepared to offer a new contract and more money to Gus Malzahn.
– With Louisville beating Cincinnati last night, UCF has sealed its first BCS berth. Even if the Knights lose to SMU on Saturday, they’ve got the tiebreaker with Louisville.