On behalf of Place To Be Nation, college football and its flawed B.C.S. era get the ultimate do-over
Check out our entire B.C.S. Busters series here
Andrew Riche: I have to preface this final installment of the B.C.S. Busters by showing some love and appreciation for all of the hard work put in by the talented members of the Place To Be Nation staff who have taken a lot of time and thought into making this series possible: PTBN co-founder Scott Criscuolo, Todd Gessling, Greg Phillips, Nick Duke, and our amazing editors Brad Woodling and Chad Campbell. There have been plenty of twists, turns, unexpected developments, and insightful choices that have laid the groundwork for where we are at now, three of the last four seasons of this dastardly, fundamentally flawed, and corrupt B.C.S. that had to be taken down sooner or later, which is exactly what will happen after Florida State plays Auburn in the final B.C.S. Championship Game in Pasadena on January 6, 2014.
For this special, final volume of the B.C.S. Busters, I have enlisted two Place To Be Nation writers who have taken part in separate installments of this series, but now, like any great comic book team-up that they would be more than ready to write about, they are back together and ready for a fight. I am joined by the ever-popular Hard Traveling Fanboys, Greg Phillips and Nick Duke, to take on three years in which the conference of choice for all three of us (Greg is an Alabama fan, Nick is a Georgia fan, and I am a LSU fan) remained the gold standard of the B.C.S. title. Will the SEC stay on top after we are done? Let us find out!
B.C.S. Top Ten: 1. Auburn, 2. Oregon, 3. TCU, 4. Stanford, 5. Wisconsin, 6. Ohio State, 7. Oklahoma, 8. Arkansas, 9. Michigan State, 10. Boise State
A.P. Top Ten: 1. Auburn, 2. Oregon, 3. TCU, 4. Wisconsin, 5. Stanford, 6. Ohio State, 7. Michigan State, 8. Arkansas, 9. Oklahoma, 10. Boise State
Andrew: Not a lot of discrepancy here between the two polls outside of Oklahoma and Michigan State trading the seventh spot and Wisconsin and Stanford trading the fourth spot. Going into the 2010 season, Auburn was not even considered the best team in its own state: That went to Alabama, who was the preseason #1 after winning the B.C.S. Championship in 2009 over Texas. But after a shocking road loss to South Carolina in October and a close loss to LSU in November, Alabama’s case to even win the loaded SEC West was dashed. Auburn had a secret weapon in juco recruit Cam Newton, who took the college football world by storm with a potent running attack, strong arm, and flashy swagger that gave Auburn an undefeated season, beating South Carolina 52-26 in the conference title game. While Auburn was 7th in the country in scoring, the Oregon Ducks and their quick-hitting offense was #1 with a bullet, averaging 47.0 PPG. Their defense was also 12th in the country as head coach Chip Kelly gave Oregon its own unbeaten record and the Pac-10’s first shot at a national title since Vince Young beat USC in 2005. But a crazy Michael Dyer run and poor fourth down playcalling cost the Ducks as the Tigers took a 22-19 victory to win it all. The #3 preseason team was a very strong and pro-filled Boise State team (2nd in offense, 2nd in defense) that beat Virginia Tech in a thriller to start the season and ran through the WAC before losing in overtime to Colin Kaepernick and the Nevada Wolf Pack 34-31 thanks to two missed field goals at the end. The little team that did go undefeated was the TCU Horned Frogs led by Gary Patterson out of the Mountain West, the same conference where Utah went undefeated twice in the B.C.S. Stanford had the great Andrew Luck and Richard Sherman on defense, but they lost by double digits at Oregon. The Big Ten did not have a championship game yet, so it was shared between three one-loss teams: Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State in Jim Tressel’s final season there. Oklahoma won the Big XII Championship Game against outgoing Nebraska, and UConn somehow won the Big East before the Sooners beat them up in the Fiesta Bowl.
THE COMMITTEE SAYS…
Andrew: Auburn at #1 is a no-brainer. The SEC by this point had a well-proven track record as the best conference, and Cam Newton and Nick Fairley, despite a lot of close calls, won every game they played. Oregon was dominant at #2 and should be there, but let me say this: If Boise State doesn’t lose to Nevada, despite the strength of schedule, I would have no problem at all putting the Broncos in at #2 and Oregon at #3. That Boise State team was for real and shut down nearly the same Oregon team a year earlier. TCU at #3 is okay, although they had a scare late against Brady Hoke’s San Diego State team. For the fourth spot, I would go with Stanford because their loss was better than Wisconsin’s (They lost at Michigan State) and Andrew Luck was on fire at the time. Besides, the Big Ten was weak and it showed on New Year’s Day when they lost all five of their bowl games. (1. Auburn, 2. Oregon, 3. TCU, 4. Stanford)
Greg Phillips: Auburn, Oregon and TCU are all strong undefeated teams and, thus, deserve their rankings. No argument on those. As for the fourth spot, I agree with Andrew that Stanford (and its own Andrew, Mr. Luck) has a strong argument at #4. A strong defense, outstanding quarterback and one of the best coaches in the nation were more than enough to prove the Cardinal’s worth. However, I also agree with Andrew that Boise State was one of the four best teams in the country. It’s really too bad that team lost to Kaepernick and company. Ultimately, though, that Stanford team had all of zero impressive wins. The team that belongs at #4 is the Wisconsin Badgers. They lost by 10 at Michigan State, but they rebounded to drill Ohio State at home a few weeks later before beating a decent Iowa team. They also had one of the nation’s best rushing attacks, the potent group of Montee Ball, John Clay and freshman James White. (1. Auburn, 2. Oregon, 3. TCU, 4. Wisconsin)
Nick Duke: As much as I hated the 2010 Auburn Tigers (They may be my least favorite college football team of all time, thanks to scumbags Cam Newton and Nick Fairley), even I can’t deny that they were clearly the No. 1 team in college football that year. Oregon was also a fairly clear-cut No. 2. TCU was a great non-AQ team yet again, and yet again they had a style of football that could have won in any conference. I’ll slot them at No. 3. From there, it turns into a debate of Stanford vs Wisconsin. Do you value the conference title or the better loss? For me, because the Big 10 had been in a state of decline for several years, I feel like Stanford was the more tested, more deserving team. Stanford gets their shot. (1. Auburn, 2. Oregon, 3. TCU, 4. Stanford)
The Decision: The top three picks are unanimous in Auburn, Oregon, and TCU. Then, like many of these installments, the fourth and final spot is up for debate between Stanford and co-Big Ten Champ Wisconsin. The allure of Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck along with the quality of their wins gets them in over the Badgers by a vote of 2-1.
THE FINAL FOUR
#1 Auburn vs. #4 Stanford in the Rose Bowl, #2 Oregon vs. #3 TCU in the Sugar Bowl
Andrew: Hmm. Jim Harbaugh and Vic Fangio’s hard hat-wearing style of defense up against Super Cam and Gus Malzahn’s much-feared rushing game on the West Coast. Like every Auburn game, they leak yards and some points to the ascending Andrew Luck, but Newton piles on some touchdowns into the teeth of the Cardinal defense and Auburn wins by two scores. Oregon vs. TCU is a very close call. At this point, Oregon had not won a big game yet, and TCU already got some experience in the Fiesta Bowl against Boise State. Andy Dalton was scary efficient in that offense with a lot of good receivers, but I think Oregon’s underrated defense holds down TCU and the Ducks move on in the Superdome.
Greg: Stanford is built much like Nick Saban’s Alabama teams, so I think the Cardinal would give Cam’s bunch a lot of trouble … for three quarters. In the end, Auburn simply had more talent across the board, and in terms of college QBs, Newton was better and more unstoppable than Luck. Auburn wins by 10 after a late turnover. I’m gonna be “that guy” and call for an upset in the 2-3 matchup. Oregon was awesome that year, probably the best overall squad of Chip Kelly’s tenure, and it gave Auburn everything they could handle in the title game. However, styles make fights. It’s been proven that Oregon (and Chip teams in general) struggle with physical opposition. TCU was nothing if not a physical defensive unit, and I think Gary Patterson’s group would create havoc at the line of scrimmage, and Dalton would find a way to put up just enough points for a 24-21 win.
Nick: While I had TCU as my clear-cut No. 3, this was a year where I feel like the divide between the top two teams and the rest of the country was pretty wide. Auburn’s offense that year may have been the best we’ve ever seen, as Cam Newton was an absolute freak of nature by season’s end. Auburn takes down Stanford 41-27, while Oregon pulls away in the second half to beat TCU 31-17.
THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
#1 Auburn vs. #2 Oregon
Andrew: We get another revisit of the actual B.C.S. title game with Auburn and Oregon, and what surprised me the most in the game was how good Oregon’s defense actually was, doing a good job of limiting Newton’s productivity throughout the game. Still, Auburn and their Heisman Trophy winner get the crystal ball.
Greg: I was stunned the first game was as close as it was. Cam Newton was a freak of nature who made Gus Malzahn’s offense essentially unstoppable. But make no mistake, this Oregon team was loaded with weapons, too. Ultimately, Cam was too good and Auburn’s defense was just good enough. 35-27 Auburn.
Nick: This is one of the years where playoff or not, the result would likely stay the same. The two teams were fairly evenly matched, although I’d imagine there would be a few more points scored than there were in the actual meeting. I’ll say Auburn edges Oregon 31-30.