Each week, Campus Union will delve into the fun, the weird and the wacky of college football with a series called Between The Hashes. It’s a way to decompress from the madness of the week, and to find a few things that you might have missed.
First, a programming note: obviously there will not be a Between the Hashes next Sunday. We will be operating in some capacity during bowl games, as well as offering a season-ending retrospective of everything that happened this year. I just wanted to offer my thanks for those of you who slowly but surely made your way to the piece each week. I hope you enjoyed it even a fraction as much as I did writing it.
It was the last big week of the regular season — still Army-Navy to go — and we had a light slate as far as volume of games was concerned. That didn’t take away from the overall entertainment value. Bowl bids were secured, the national championship worked itself out, and there was a fair share of heartbreak. Now to the good stuff.
With Championship Weekend come and gone, the college football bowl season is officially upon us. The final BCS standings were unveiled on Sunday night in its final year before the College Football Playoff kicks off in 2014.
The complete BCS standings:
Say goodbye to the regular season. The Army-Navy game is the last vestige of 2013, and college football moves on to bowls before hibernating for the long winter. What a way to go out, with former No. 2 Ohio State falling to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship, Baylor winning its first Big 12 title and Auburn and Missouri giving fans a thriller for the SEC.
The Week 16 AP Poll has No. 1 and No. 2 precisely how the BCS standings will look: Florida State and Auburn. Although teams will be shifted around with the computers and the polls that make up the rankings, the AP Poll can help as everyone starts to come up with their remaining bowl predictions. Alabama is at No. 3, with Michigan State and Pac-12 winner Stanford rounding out the top five.
The complete AP Poll (with first-place votes in parenthesis) is below:
1. Florida State (56)
2. Auburn (4)
4. Michigan State
7. Ohio State
8. South Carolina
13. Oklahoma State
16. Arizona State
20. Texas A&M
21. Fresno State
24. Northern Illinois
25. Notre Dame
Here are a few thoughts from this week’s results:
• With Oklahoma’s win over Oklahoma State, the Big 12′s chance to get two teams into the BCS is in jeopardy, although the Sooners have a shot. They travel well and those bowl games end up being more about money and attention than finding the best teams or matchups. After the up-and-down season Oklahoma had, including the loss to Texas, it’s kind of stunning the Sooners have a shot at an at-large BCS bid in the first place. It’s been one of the quieter 10-win seasons for Bob Stoops, who dealt with a quarterback carousel and a bevy of injuries over the course of the year.
• It’s looking like one of Clemson or Oregon will be left out if Oklahoma gets in with another of the at-large bids. A spot opened up when Northern Illinois lost to Bowling Green in the MAC championship on Friday. There are plenty of ways to make a case for why a team deserves to get in, but Oregon got creative, citing Facebook and Instagram likes. “O brave new world, That has such people in’t!”
• Four AP voters thought enough of Auburn’s late season surge to give the Tigers No. 1 votes. They beat Alabama and No. 9 Missouri in back-to-back weeks and did have a better strength of schedule by the numbers than FSU. The Seminoles passed the eye test all year, though, pummeling everything that was set in front of them. At least the BCS sorted itself out, and we’ll know soon enough who is truly No. 1.
Up until last week, Fresno State had an outside shot at a BCS at-large bid. The Bulldogs were unbeaten and jostling for position with fellow non-AQ conference unbeaten Northern Illinois. However, a lack of defense doomed Fresno State against San Jose State on Black Friday, much as NIU was undone by its an inability to generate stops in this week’s conference championship loss to Bowling Green. There will be no BCS buster in the final season before the College Football Playoff goes into effect.
The Bulldogs were able to do what the Huskies couldn’t, though, winning their league by besting Utah State 24-17 in the Mountain West championship on Saturday night. Quarterback Derek Carr continued his season of statistical whimsy, going 36-of-53 for 404 yards with three touchdowns, and Fresno was able to make just enough plays against a stout Aggies’ defense.
Here are three quick thoughts from the MWC title game:
Michigan State’s vaunted defense was expected to give Ohio State a test in Saturday’s Big Ten title game. In the end, it was that defense that kept the Buckeyes from the conference crown and a shot at a national championship.
Spartans linebacker Denicos Allen stuffed Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller on fourth-and-two from Michigan State’s 39-yard line midway through the fourth quarter, and tailback Jeremy Langford broke free for a 26-yard touchdown on the ensuing possession to help No. 10 Michigan State sink the No. 2 Buckeyes 34-24 and capture the Big Ten championship. The loss was Ohio State’s first in Urban Meyer’s two seasons (24 games) as head coach, and it derails the Buckeyes’ BCS title dreams.
People can debate the strength of Florida State’s schedule all the want, but there’s no disputing the fact that the Seminoles have crushed everything in their path this season like some kind of giant Japanese movie monster. On Saturday night, Duke found itself in Kaiju’s path of destruction in the ACC championship game. Florida State overcame a relatively slow start and never looked back, winning 45-7 in impressive fashion.
It didn’t seem as if the tumult surrounding Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston — between Heisman talk and the announcement last Thursday that he wouldn’t be charged in a sexual assault investigation — had any effect on him against the Blue Devils.
Duke delivered some hard hits and showed some good schemes, and coach David Cutcliffe’s game plan worked early on. But Florida State’s physical dominance eventually took over the game. Winston wasn’t perfect — he threw two interceptions — but he still completed 19-of-32 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns. Winston has thrown for 300 or more yards in seven games, and Saturday marked the eighth time this season that he has thrown for at least three scores.
Trailing Stanford 31-14 late in the third quarter on Saturday night, Arizona State finally seemed ready to mount a rally. Behind quarterback Taylor Kelly, the Sun Devils marched 74 yards in 16 plays, all the way to the Cardinal’s one-yard line. But Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov stuffed tight end De’Marieya Nelson on fourth-and-goal. The Cardinal then closed the book on any sort of comeback attempt with a 99-yard scoring drive, capped by a 24-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kevin Hogan to Ty Montgomery. Stanford routed the Sun Devils 38-14 to win their second consecutive Pac-12 crown.
At times this year, the Cardinal have looked like one of the best teams in the nation: They beat Oregon 26-20 on Nov. 7; throttled UCLA 24-10 on Oct. 19; and whipped the Sun Devils twice. Stanford plays with a nasty streak, and it is physically relentless.
Apparently, there’s no greater cause-and-effect scenario than being tossed into the rumor mill as the possible next coach at Texas and suddenly receiving a lot more money. First, it happened to Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, who landed a six-year, $26.85 million extension earlier this week. Now, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has reportedly hit the jackpot. While Fisher’s top-ranked Seminoles were playing Duke in the ACC title game, The Palm Beach Post‘s Tom D’Angelo reported that Fisher had agreed to a contract extension that would net him an average of $4.1 million per season for about “five to seven years.”
ATLANTA — Just last weekend, when many thought it couldn’t be done, Auburn ran for 296 yards against the SEC’s top rushing defense in a thrilling 34-28 Iron Bowl victory over Alabama. On Saturday against Missouri, which entered the game with the conference’s second-ranked rushing defense, Auburn’s ground game was even more impressive — and the prize was an SEC championship.
Tailback Tre Mason rushed for SEC title game records 303 yards and four touchdowns on 45 carries, and No. 3 Auburn beat No. 5 Missouri 59-42 in a shootout at the Georgia Dome. Auburn gained 676 yards of total offense, including 544 on the ground, to clinch a BCS bowl berth and keep its hopes for a spot in the national title game alive.
With the temperature in the 20s and the wind chill in the teens, it wasn’t surprising to see Texas and Baylor both looking a bit cold at the start of Saturday’s game. Following Oklahoma’s last-minute 33-24 upset of Oklahoma State earlier in the afternoon, a conference championship was on the line. Eventually, the Bears thawed out enough to defeat the Longhorns 30-10 and capture the school’s first-ever Big 12 title.
Everyone in Waco, except Baylor coach Art Briles — who sported a crewneck sweatshirt and a baseball hat — looked miserably cold. Texas attempted to control the clock by running the football. Tailback Malcolm Brown scampered for 118 yards in the first half (the most in a half by a Longhorns running back since Jamaal Charles in 2007) and finished the game with 131 rushing yards on 25 carries.