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By David Fox, 4 days 2 hours ago
The revelry on the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium hadn’t even ended before various scenarios putting the SEC into the national championship game started popping up.
What would Auburn have to do to leapfrog an undefeated Ohio State? Is Missouri realistic? And is Alabama out of it ... really?
For this week, BCS order remains with the two undefeated teams in the national championship slots. For Auburn to get into the title game over an undefeated Ohio State, the voters and BCS computers would have to do something they’ve never done by leaving out an undefeated major conference champion at the expense of a one-loss team.
Did we mention there are still conference championship games to play. An Ohio State or Florida State loss would render SEC arguments moot. So would an Auburn loss to Missouri.
And after what you’ve seen at Auburn the last two weeks, are you going to doubt the possibility of Duke upsetting the whole thing on the last day of the season?
No. 3 Auburn. As expected, Auburn moved to No. 3 in the BCS and narrowed the gap with Ohio State. The Tigers checked in with a BCS average of 0.9233 with Ohio State at 0.9503. The difference is a little bigger than the Sunday afternoon chatter indicated, but it’s not insurmountable for Auburn with a game remaining against No. 5 Missouri while Ohio State faces No. 10 Michigan State. The gap of 0.027 between Auburn and Ohio State, a margin that figures to get closer if both win, would be the closest between No. 2 and No. 3 since Florida edged out Texas by 0.0181 in 2008.
No. 2 Ohio State. The Buckeyes lost the most ground in the coaches’ and Harris polls as nearly all the first-place votes that went for Alabama last week went to Florida State. The Seminoles have 97 of 105 first-place votes in the Harris poll and 58 of 62 first-place votes in the coaches’ poll (though Ohio State gained four top votes from the coaches). Ohio State is 25 points ahead of Auburn in the coaches poll and 84 behind Florida State. The Buckeyes are 66 points ahead of Auburn in the Harris poll and 129 behind Florida State.
Quick BCS Projections
BCS Championship Game: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 2 Ohio State
Rose: No. 11 Arizona State vs. No. 10 Michigan State*
Orange: No. 4 Alabama* vs. No. 13 Clemson*
Sugar: No. 3 Auburn vs. No. 16 UCF
Fiesta: No. 6 Oklahoma State vs. No. 14 Northern Illinois
Key Games This Week
Auburn vs. Missouri (SEC Championship). Auburn is holding out hope to get into the BCS title game with a win in Atlanta regardless of what Ohio State does, but a loss by either of the top two teams likely vaults the SEC champion to the national title game.
Ohio State vs. Michigan State (Big Ten Championship). A rout of Michigan State, especially after the close call with Michigan, would probably help Ohio State fans rest easy no matter what happens to Auburn. But in the event of a loss, the Spartans would also like to look respectable enough to remain in the top 14 to remain eligible for an at-large bid to the Rose Bowl against the winner of Stanford-Arizona State.
Texas at Baylor. Even though they looked nothing like it the last two weeks, the Bears have the ability to get into a BCS game. An Oklahoma State loss to Oklahoma and a Baylor win will earn the Bears the automatic bid to the Fiesta Bowl. And given losses by Clemson and Wisconsin, the at-large field has dwindled. A one-loss Baylor ranked in the top 10 may be the best of what’s available.
Alabama is out. The fantasy of Alabama getting back to the championship game with an Auburn loss in the SEC title game and an Ohio State loss in the Big Ten title game is probably finished. Alabama checked in at No. 4, but only 0.0111 points ahead of No. 5 Missouri in BCS average. A Missouri win over Auburn would almost certainly vault Mizzou ahead of the Crimson Tide. The only plausible scenario for the Tide in the title game would require losses by Florida State and Ohio State, setting up a matchup with Missouri or an Iron Bowl rematch.
The BCS at-large picture is a mess. Prepare to complain about teams outside of the top-10 earning BCS slots. Alabama is a virtual lock for the first BCS at-large spot (the Orange, if Florida State finishes No. 1), but after that, nothing is certain. The Rose may like to pair a Big Ten team with its Pac-12 champion if Ohio State goes to the title game, but the only candidate is No. 10 Michigan State, thanks to Wisconsin's loss to Penn State. No. 13 Clemson should remain eligible for the BCS and would be more attractive that a second team from the Big 12. At No. 12, Oregon also would be a strong BCS contender, but the Ducks won’t go to the Rose Bowl to face the Pac-12 champion.
Northern Illinois is creeping closer to an automatic bid. Fresno State’s loss to San Jose State means Northern Illinois is the only team from a non-automatic qualifying conference in the mix for a BCS bid. The Huskies moved up to No. 14, but they’re behind idle Oregon and Clemson. It would take quite a bit of a shakeup for NIU, who faces Bowling Green in the MAC title game, to get into the top 12 for an automatic bid. However, Northern Illinois remains two spots ahead of No. 16 UCF, the projected champion of the American Athletic Conference. UCF finishes with 5-6 SMU.
Notes on BCS selection
• Automatic BCS bids go to the top two for the title game, the champions of the ACC (Orange Bowl), Big 12 (Fiesta), Big Ten (Rose), Pac-12 (Rose) and SEC (Sugar). The American’s automatic bid is not tied to a particular bowl.
• Notre Dame receives an automatic bid if it finishes in the top eight.
• A champion from a non-automatic qualifying league (Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt and non-Notre Dame independents) receive an automatic bid if it finishes in the top 12 of the standings or if it finishes in the top 16 and ahead of a champion from a non-AQ conference.
• To be eligible for an at-large BCS bid, a team must have nine or more wins and finish in the top 14 of the BCS standings.
• Once automatic tie-ins are placed, the selection order for BCS bids goes as follows: 1. The bowl losing the BCS No. 1 team to the championship game, 2. The bowl losing the BCS No. 2 team, 3. The Orange Bowl, 4. The Sugar, 5. The Fiesta.
By David Fox, 4 days 6 hours ago
Before Chris Davis could turn in the play of the year for Auburn as time expired against Alabama, Nick Marshall had his own miraculous scoring play.
Auburn appeared to be on the way to a major blunder as the Tigers called six consecutive run plays an no timeouts on their final offensive possession. Gus Malzahn called an option on the seventh play of the possession when Marshall rolled out to his left. Inches from the line of scrimmage, Marshall flipped the ball to a wide open Sammie Coates for a 39-yard touchdown pass.
“I know it was under a minute and we had a read option right there,” Malzahn said. “It was one of those things like 'do we throw the football,' but I felt like we were getting a rhythm and a cheap one from their corner. He kind of came off and Nick looked back and said 'Let's run the same play.' He knew what we were thinking and made a great throw."
Marshall finished with fewer than 200 yards of total offense, but he was the key player in Auburn’s offense in the 34-28 win over the Tide. Marshall finished with three total touchdowns to earn Athlon Sports National Player of the Week honors.
Athlon Sports Week 14 National Awards
National Offensive Player of the Week: Nick Marshall, Auburn
His stats weren’t overly gaudy, but Marshall ran Gus Malzahn’s offense to near perfection in Auburn’s thrilling 34–28 win over No. 1 Alabama. The junior quarterback completed 11-of-16 passes for 97 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions and added 99 yards and one TD on the ground on 17 attempts. Auburn tied the game at 28–28 with 32 seconds remaining when Marshall found Sammie Coates for a 39-yard score on a brilliantly executed option pass. Marshall has completed just under 60 percent of his passes this season with 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Defensive Player of the Week: Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
Quarles, a junior defensive tackle, was a key cog in a South Carolina defense that limited Clemson to 17 points and 352 yards of offense in the Gamecocks’ 31–17 win in Columbia. Quarles had six tackles, including two sacks — one for minus-six yards midway through the second quarter and one for minus-19 yards just before halftime that forced Clemson to settle for a field goal. Quarles, who leads the team with 13.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for a loss, is expected to declare for the NFL Draft after the season.
Freshman of the Week: Christian Hackenberg, Penn State
Penn State's true freshman phenom played the best game of his young career in the season finale on the road against a ranked Wisconsin team. Hackenberg was brilliant in Madison, completing 21-of-30 passes for 339 yards and a career-high four touchdown passes against a defense that was giving up less than 14 points per game in 2013. He finished the season with 2,955 yards, 24 total touchdowns and, most importantly, a second straight winning record for Bill O'Brien and Penn State. Hackenberg is as big time a quarterback prospect as the Big Ten has seen in decades and his legend should only grow during the offeason due to this performance.
Coordinator of the Week: Noel Mazzone, UCLA
UCLA walked into the Coliseum and scored 35 points and gained 396 yards with relative ease against the top total defense in the Pac-12. Brett Hundley played flawlessly while leading Mazzone's offense up and down the field without turning the ball over. Only Arizona State, Stanford and Cal have rushed for more yards on the Trojans than UCLA's 188 and only the Sun Devils (62) scored more points on USC than the Bruins' 35.
Athlon Sports Week 14 Conference Awards
Offense: Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
Defense: Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech
Freshman: Jameis Winston, Florida State
Coordinator: George McDonald, Syracuse
Offense: John Hubert, Kansas State
Defense: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
Freshman: Grant Rohach, Iowa State
Coordinator: Greg Robinson, Texas
Offense: Braxton Miller, Ohio State
Defense: James Morris, Iowa
Freshman: Christian Hackenberg, Penn State
Coordinator: Bill O’Brien, Penn State
Offense: Brett Hundley, UCLA
Defense: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon
Freshman: Myles Jack, UCLA
Coordinator: Noel Mazzone, UCLA
Offense: Nick Marshall, Auburn
Defense: Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
Freshman: Josh Dobbs, Tennessee
Coordinator: Gus Malzahn, Auburn
By David Fox, 5 days 1 hour ago
Nick Marshall’s deflected touchdown pass to Ricardo Louis to beat Georgia stood as perhaps the best play in Auburn history. One of the biggest plays in SEC lore.
When fans tell the story of the 2013 Auburn season, Marshall to Louis (via the hands of a Georgia player) will be No. 2.
Chris Davis set off mayhem at Jordan-Hare Stadium by returning Alabama’s failed last-second 57-yard field goal attempt from the back of Auburn end zone to Alabama’s end zone for a 34-28 win to topple the No. 1 Crimson Tide.
Auburn clinches a spot in the SEC Championship Game, but that’s secondary. Auburn has clinched a spot among one of the most miraculous teams in college football history.
Between Marshall’s miracle pass to beat Georgia and Davis’ runback to beat Alabama, Auburn has produced the equivalent of Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary and the Bluegrass Miracle in a span of three weeks.
The win may cost Alabama a bid at a third consecutive national championship while giving Auburn an outside shot at claiming its own bid to extend the SEC title streak to eight.
But all of that is conjecture at this point. Auburn’s 2013 season place as the most charmed years in college football history isn’t in doubt.
Three Things We Learned From Auburn 34, Alabama 28
Auburn will make a compelling case for the BCS Championship Game. Ohio State and Florida State remain undefeated, but look for the conversation to begin about Auburn leap-frogging one of them in the event of an SEC championship (Auburn AD Jay Jacobs is already lobbying). Precedent says that talk is hokum. No one-loss team has ever jumped an undefeated major conference team for a title spot in BCS history. Then again, two teams from the same conference facing each other in a rematch for the title would have been ludicrious before 2011. Auburn has the lone loss of the three teams (35-21 at LSU). But Auburn also entered the week with the toughest schedule of any of those three teams. The Tigers began the week with the 38th-ranked schedule and a 4-1 record against the top 30, according to the Sagarin ratings. Ohio State’s schedule was ranked 67th; Florida State’s was ranked 76th. The rankings following Auburn's win over No. 1 Alabama combined with Florida State's and Ohio State's best wins (Wisconsin and Clemson) slipping in stature will be worth watching. But Auburn still trailed the top three in the BCS by nearly a tenth of a point, a significant amount with two weeks left in the season.
Auburn Florida State Ohio State Wins over teams with winning records Alabama, Arkansas State, Georgia, Ole Miss, Texas A&M Boston College, Clemson, Maryland, Miami Buffalo, Iowa, Michigan, Penn State, San Diego State, Wisconsin Wins over current BCS top 25 Alabama, Texas A&M Clemson Wisconsin Final game Missouri Duke Michigan State
Alabama, for the first time in a long time, was mistake-prone. From beginning to end, special teams were an issue for the Crimson Tide, down to the game-winning runback. Alabama punter Cody Mandell dropped a punt in the first quarter, and Cade Foster stutter-stepped on his first of three missed field goals. Nick Saban’s lack of confidence in special teams spilled into the fourth quarter when he elected to run his offense on fourth-and-1 from the Auburn 13 (T.J. Yeldon was stuffed for no gain). Alabama forced a three and out and got the ball at the Auburn 27 but again came up short when Foster’s field goal was blocked. On the final play of the game, rather than taking a for overtime, Alabama sent out a freshman kicker with one career kick for a 57-yard attempt.
Auburn is a miracle team. Auburn isn’t in the SEC Championship Game simply because it’s lucky. The Tigers are a definite top five or better team, but they’ve had their good fortune beyond the miracle plays to beat Georgia and Alabama. Auburn has taken advantage of just about every play on the razor’s edge in the final month of the season. Against Alabama, Nick Marshall completed his final touchdown pass just a toe short of the line of scrimmage. Marshall ran to his left on an option play, switched the football from one hand to another and was just short of the line when he found Sammy Coates open for the game-tying 39-yard touchdown. And on the final drive, officials put one second back on the clock when T.J. Yeldon ran out of bounds. Of course, Auburn fans would be cursing officials if Adam Griffith converts the 57-yard field goal, but the endgame was Davis’ miracle touchdown.
By Steven Lassan, 5 days 2 hours ago
Sometimes, a top-five matchup doesn’t live up to the hype. But in Auburn-Alabama’s case on Saturday, the Iron Bowl lived up to its top-five billing, with the Tigers stunning the Crimson Tide on a last-second missed field goal return for a touchdown.
After Alabama was awarded one second on the clock on review, Adam Griffith attempted a 56-yard field goal (his first of the night). However, Griffith’s kick was off line, which allowed Auburn’s Chris Davis to catch the attempt and return 109 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
The field goal return for a touchdown sends Auburn to the SEC Championship and ends – at least for now – Alabama’s national title hopes.
Is this play one of the best in college football history? Considering everything that was on the line and in a huge rivalry, it certainly ranks among the top plays in recent memory:
By Steven Lassan, 1 week 5 days ago
Just how big is next week’s Iron Bowl? Auburn already has RVs lining up to get tailgate spots for next Saturday’s game.
Don’t believe us? Check out these photos from Auburn:
By Athlon Sports, 2 weeks 5 days ago
A play that will go down in SEC lore as one of the greatest in college football history. Down by one point and facing a fourth and 18, Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall heaved a desperation pass that was deflected by two Georgia defenders into the arms of Tigers receiver Ricardo Lewis for a 73-yard touchdown pass to give Auburn a 43-38 win. The Tigers gave up 21 straight points in the fourth quarter, capped by an Aaron Murray touchdown run that was allowed to stand after video review.
Thanks to Marshall’s Miracle, Auburn will go into the Iron Bowl against Alabama in two weeks with the SEC West on the line. Here’s the play...
And here’s the reaction of the Georgia sideline, courtesy of @BrianMFloyd...
By David Fox, 3 weeks 2 days ago
Last week gave us plenty of news to break down on this week’s podcast. Alabama tightened its grip on No. 1, Baylor took another step to national title legitimacy and Stanford rearranged the championship and Heisman races. Co-hosts Braden Gall and David Fox dive into the debates while looking ahead to Saturday.
On this week’s podcast:
• Gall and Fox dive right into the Thursday night results and what they mean for the national championship race. Fox doesn’t mind people ranking Stanford ahead of Baylor and Ohio State for now, but that should change if Baylor beats Oklahoma State and Texas. Gall believes Stanford should remain on the same footing as undefeated Baylor and Ohio State.
• Marcus Mariota’s injury and performance against Stanford toppled a quarterback who was securely in the lead for the Heisman, what does that mean for the field after Jameis Winston?
• Gall and Fox have come to the same conclusion about where Johnny Manziel belongs in the race, but took two different routes to get there based on what he’s done right and what he’s done wrong.
• Fox then goes on a quick rant about how AJ McCarron is the new “system quarterback” and that hurts him in the Heisman race.
• And then in a look at this week’s game, our pickers are riding the hot hands for Auburn, Oklahoma State, UCLA and more.
• Lastly, a quick look at Hot Seat or Not Hot Seat. Who is on the hot seat in 2013 and who gets a chance to go into 2014 scorching?
The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com, iTunes and our podcast RSS feed.
Please send any comments, questions and podcast topics to @AthlonSports, @BradenGall and @DavidFox615 on Twitter.
By Steven Lassan, 3 months 2 weeks ago
College Football’s 2013 season has yet to start, but the SEC is already planning for 2014. On Wednesday, the conference released its 2014 slate, headlined by a Thursday night opener on Aug. 28 between Texas A&M and South Carolina.
Here are a few key takeaways from the schedule release: (Click here to check out the full schedule)
* Texas A&M at South Carolina (Aug. 28) – Excellent way to open the season, but don’t expect Johnny Manziel or Jadeveon Clowney to be playing in this one.
* Georgia at South Carolina (Sept. 13) – Another early season matchup between these two East Division rivals.
* Florida at Alabama (Sept. 20) – An early preview for the SEC Championship?
* Florida at Tennessee (Oct. 4) – A slightly later date for this game in 2013.
* Alabama at LSU (Nov. 8) – Always huge SEC West title implications when these two teams meet.
* LSU at Texas A&M (Nov. 27) – Thanksgiving night matchup between these two teams should be must-see television.
* Arkansas at Missouri (Nov. 29) – Border rivals meet for only the sixth time…and the first time as SEC opponents.
Florida: at Alabama, LSU
Georgia: at Arkansas, Auburn
Kentucky: at LSU, Mississippi State
Missouri: at Texas A&M, Arkansas
South Carolina: Texas A&M, at Auburn
Tennessee: at Ole Miss, Alabama
Vanderbilt: Ole Miss, at Mississippi State
Alabama: Florida, at Tennessee
Arkansas: Georgia, at Missouri
Auburn: South Carolina, at Georgia
LSU: at Florida, Kentucky
Mississippi State: at Kentucky, Vanderbilt
Ole Miss: at Vanderbilt, Tennessee
Texas A&M: at South Carolina, Missouri
College Football, News, SEC, Alabama Crimson Tide, Arkansas Razorbacks, Auburn Tigers, Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs, Kentucky Wildcats, LSU Tigers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, Ole Miss Rebels, South Carolina Gamecocks, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Vanderbilt Commodores
By Steven Lassan, 3 months 3 weeks ago
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn narrowed the competition to be the Tigers’ starting quarterback.
Four candidates – Kiehl Frazier, Jonathan Wallace, Jeremy Johnson and Nick Marshall – began fall practice with a chance to secure the No. 1 spot, but Frazier and Wallace have been eliminated from the competition after the Tigers' weekend scrimmage. Marshall and Johnson are now fighting to start the season opener against Washington State. Wallace will remain at quarterback but is expected to serve as the No. 3 signal-caller in 2013.
In a surprising move, Frazier has been shifted to safety. The junior threw for 753 yards and two touchdowns last year.
Marshall and Johnson were touted recruits, but neither have a snap of FBS experience under center. Marshall started his career at Georgia as a defensive back and tossed 20 interceptions as a starting quarterback on the JUCO level last season. Johnson was rated as a four-star prospect by Rivals in the 2013 signing class.
Marshall is an excellent athlete, so Auburn needs to get his playmaking ability on the field. However, expect to see Johnson this year, especially if Marshall continues to struggle with turnovers.
By Steven Lassan, 4 months 1 week ago
South Carolina, Ole Miss and now Auburn. Chrome helmet concepts have made the internet rounds over the last couple of weeks for the Gamecocks and Rebels, and one for the Tigers popped up over the weekend.
It’s uncertain if this helmet will ever see the field for Auburn, but you have to admit, it’s a pretty cool concept. Chrome schemes seem to be one of the newest and hottest trends when it comes to helmets, so expect to see more of these designs over the next few years.
Should Auburn wear this helmet in 2013?
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