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The end of the regular college football season is coming at us with alarming speed.
The Auburn Tigers have two of, if not three of the most difficult games left to play to decide where they will finish in the rankings for the year.Thus determining our Bowl destination. All eyes however, are on our arch nemesis Alabama. Ranked atop the BCS polls, and just about every other poll out there.
If Auburn looses next week, then their post season fate is uncertain.
Many predict that we would end up in the Sugar Bowl. For that scenario to play out, Alabama would have to win the SEC Championship game. If Alabama were to loose the SEC Championship game, the winner from the East would be the conference representative in New Orleans. That leaves the Capital One Bowl, the AT&T Cotton Bowl, and the Outback Bowl as possible destinations. Where Alabama would be ranked would be a determining factor, although if Auburn looses the Iron Bowl, Alabama would almost certainly be ranked ahead of Auburn even after loosing the SEC Championship game. That would leave our three biggest Bowl destinations scrambling to pick up our Tigers.
Win and then destiny has us back in the SEC Championship game facing either South Carolina, or Missouri.
Loose the SEC Championship game, and our destination again becomes uncertain. See above.
Win the Southeastern Conference Championship game, and anything truly becomes possible. Auburn would most likely be ranked third or fourth in the country if the unbeaten teams that are currently ahead of them remain unbeaten.
In 2011 everything that had to happen to the teams ranked ahead of Alabama happened in perfect order for them to get back into the title game. Could such a thing happen for Auburn? We have seen one loss and two loss SEC teams win the BCS title in recent years. Should the conference record in the title game be a weighted factor in possibly moving a one loss Auburn team over one or two unbeaten teams? My *Navy-tinted glasses disqualify me from making such judgment.
Lets look at what would have to happen to those unbeaten teams to insure that a one loss Auburn team made the title game.
First we look at the Ohio State Buckeyes. Their last two season games are against Indiana, and Michigan. Neither of these teams currently has a winning record in their conference. If OSU can get past these two, then they will play in the Big Ten Championship game, most likely against a one loss Michigan State which is unbeaten in the conference. If the Buckeyes win that game, I can't see a one loss Auburn team jumping them. Loose that game, and Auburn most certainly jumps Ohio State.
A side note here. The last team from the Big Ten to play in the BCS title game was Ohio State. They lost to a one loss Florida team in their first appearance, coached by the guy who now coaches Ohio State, Urban Meyer. The one loss by that Florida team was to Auburn. The Buckeyes appeared in back to back title games. They lost to LSU in the second.
Next lets look at Florida State. The Seminoles have the distinction of playing in the first three BCS title games. They won the second contest vs. Virginia Tech for their only BCS title to date. FSU has to play Idaho next followed by the Florida Gators. I know most if not all of the Auburn family will be pulling for the staggering Gators to pull off the upset in this one. Florida State will then play Duke most likely, in the ACC Championship game. You read that right, Duke has the inside track to win their division. I do not see FSU stumbling to the finish of their season.
Finally, the Baylor Bears are without a doubt the most fascinating team without a loss that we will discuss. The Bears are averaging well over 300 yards per game in passing, 300 yards on the nose in rushing, are ranked number one in the country in points scored averaging 61 points per game. That is a phenomenal statistic.
This Baylor team however is no fluke. They are ranked 17th in the nation in points allowed by their defense. That is after facing West Virginia, Kansas State, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech. I have watched several of the Baylor games this season, and I will attest to their defense being a hard nosed, hard hitting, and attacking style of defense.
With that said, the Baylor Bears have their hands full with the remainder of their schedule. They still have to play Oklahoma State and TCU, before finishing this season with Texas. By far the most difficult remaining schedule of the unbeaten teams currently ahead of Auburn. The Big 12 does not play a championship game.
Auburn's destiny is in their own hands. We have seen stranger things happen than what has to occur for this team to make another BCS title game appearance. Our Tigers just need to take it one game at a time, and not look ahead.
* Navy-tinted glasses comes from the book "Orange Is Our Color" by Josh Dowdy.