Auburn QB Nick Marshall celebrates in some SEC championship confetti.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
No one in the college football country is stopping Auburn’s rushing attack right now.
Not Florida State, not Ohio State, not Alabama, not Missouri, not anyone.
Auburn posted 59 points on Missouri Saturday night in the SEC championship game, a team that had given up no more than 28 points to any opponent this year.
Article continues below ...
Auburn didn’t just win; the Tigers imposed their physical will on a Georgia Dome crowd bedecked in orange. When it was all over, Auburn had rushed for 544 yards, Tre Mason — looking like Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl — had gone over 300 yards and any argument that the one-loss Tigers didn’t belong in Pasadena had been put on ice.
With Ohio State’s loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten title game, Auburn is now all but a lock to play for the BCS title against Florida State, which crushed Duke to win the ACC title.
But even if Ohio State would have won, the Tigers should have been off to Pasadena regardless. That’s the only possible conclusion that reasonable voters or a decently-designed computer formula could reach after examining the totality of the 2013 season.
With the win over Missouri, Auburn now has four top 25 BCS wins, two of which are against top 10 BCS teams in the past two weeks.
Ohio State has just one top 25 win. Florida State has just one as well.
As if that’s not enough, the Tigers have triumphed in the nation’s toughest conference, the league that has produced seven straight BCS title champions.
In order to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. And until someone else claims the crown, the SEC’s champion is the best in college football.
Let’s stop pretending that merely finishing with an undefeated record means you’re better than a team with a loss. Didn’t Alabama erase that notion last year with its domination of undefeated Notre Dame?
Without Buckeye probation, last year’s BCS title game could have been undefeated Ohio State against undefeated Notre Dame. Does anyone think Alabama wouldn’t have crushed both teams last year?
Strength of schedule matters; so does strength of competition.
Michigan State was the Buckeyes’ first top 10 opponent in two years. Florida State’s best win all season is Clemson, a paper Tiger if ever there was one.
You shouldn’t be rewarded for dodging challengers; you should be praised for challenging your team against the best.
Sure, Auburn lost a single game. But that loss was in September on the road at LSU. Do you think Ohio State is going into Baton Rouge and winning?
The toughest road game Ohio State has had all season was at Northwestern.
That September Auburn team is nowhere near as good as December’s Auburn Tigers. If Auburn played LSU today, the game wouldn’t be close. Auburn would romp all over LSU. But LSU at night is a formidable setting. It’s why LSU is 31-1 in its last 32 home games.
Steel is forged in fire, and Auburn’s fiery descent into Death Valley helped to harden and refine the sharp scythe of Auburn’s rush attack.
After beating Missouri, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said that his team deserved to play for the BCS title. But he also said, "A lot of teams aren’t getting better every week. This team is."
Running back Tre Mason was even more succinct. "We ready for Florida State," he said, as the confetti and streamers rained down on the Georgia Dome field.
Having watched Saturday night’s game, it’s hard for any reasonable college football fan to disagree.
Auburn and Florida State for the BCS title.
As ring announcer Michael Buffer would say: Let’s get ready to rumble.