By Ralph D. Russo, AP College Football Writer
NEW YORK —
As college football prepares for the final Bowl Championship Series, featuring a Florida State-Auburn championship game, it’s easy to see why the coming four-team playoff won’t solve all the postseason problems.
Heck, we might just miss the BCS. Maybe?
It sort of worked out this season. Top-ranked Florida State (13-0) was the only team to get through the regular season unbeaten, and the Seminoles did it in dominating fashion. Auburn (12-1) won the Southeastern Conference, and among the teams with imperfect records the Tigers’ resume is best.
The pairings become official Sunday night when the final BCS standings came out, but there’s no question about 1 and 2. It’ll be the ‘Noles and Tigers at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 6 for the national championship.
In the other marquee bowls:
• Alabama will play Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.
• Clemson will play Ohio State in the Orange Bowl.
• Michigan State will play Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
• Baylor will play UCF in the Fiesta Bowl.
Of course, Big 12 champion Baylor (11-1) and Big Ten champion Michigan State (12-1) might argue with that top two. But over 16 seasons college football fans have built up what can be called BCS acceptance, learning to live with the fact that there is only room for two.
Fans of particularly aggrieved teams (2000 Miami, 2004 Auburn, 2008 Texas, just to name a few) still burn over the slights. Generally, though, by the time the championship game kicked off, most everybody was on board.
Now think about this season playing out under next season’s format. In the new world order known as the College Football Playoff, a selection committee will pick four teams to play in two national semifinals. The winners play for the national title.
So how would a panel that includes Tom Osborne, Archie Manning and Condoleezza Rice sort out this season’s top four?
Florida State and Auburn, of course. And ... Baylor and Michigan State? But what about Pac-12 champion Stanford (11-2)? Sure the Cardinal have two losses, but as Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said Saturday at the end of a week in which he and the rest of the SEC practically begged voters to overlook the number in the loss column and focus on quality of opposition: “I have nine words. Strength of schedule. Strength of schedule. Strength of schedule.”
Among this season’s best teams, Stanford played the toughest schedule.
And what about Alabama (11-1)? The two-time defending national champions only lost once in stunning fashion to Auburn.