Updated: December 1, 2013 10:44PM
First he called it “inarguable.” Then he kicked it into full-on nutso gear and called it “un-American.”
Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs went overboard Sunday during an appearance on ESPN. He was describing just how wrong it would be for the Tigers — or Missouri, depending which one-loss team wins Saturday’s SEC championship game in Atlanta (3 p.m., Ch. 2) — to be left out of the BCS title game.
Florida State and Ohio State, both unbeaten, are 1-2 in the new BCS rankings. A trio of one-loss SEC teams — Auburn, Alabama and Missouri — comes next. If Ohio State beats Michigan State in the Big Ten title game (7 p.m., Fox-32), will the Buckeyes hold off the champion of the league that claimed seven consecutive BCS crowns? And should they?
Those are the questions college football analysts and fans across the country will be asking all week, disproving Jacobs’ “inarguable” comment (and proving his “un-American” one to be foolish).
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn offered a slightly more nuanced take during a conference call with reporters: “I’m focused on the SEC championship game and Missouri. Our league is the top league in college football.”
Here’s what I think: All three one-loss teams from the SEC are better than the Buckeyes, but there’s no way to prove that and, besides, it’s no great crime if what we’re “stuck with” in Pasadena on Jan. 6 are unbeaten, name-brand programs that would easily qualify for the four-team playoff if this were 2014 or any year after that.
And another thing
We’ve reached 2013, the final year of the BCS era, without an unbeaten team from an automatic-qualifying conference ever having been passed by a one-loss team this late in the season. Auburn is a closer No. 3 than we’ve had in this scenario before, but it’s very unlikely the Tigers will get to Pasadena without Ohio State losing. Mizzou? It would be beyond shocking.
You can just plain forget about FSU losing Saturday. The ACC title game against Duke (7 p.m., Ch. 7) will be a rout from the get-go.
You know who else would beat Duke? Northern Illinois.
The Huskies are 14th in the BCS rankings. And that means, plainly and clearly, that if they knock off Bowling Green in the MAC title game at Ford Field in Detroit (Friday, 7 p.m., ESPN2), they’re going to a BCS game — probably the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., against Oklahoma State or Baylor.
Hopefully, NIU fans will have a chance to scout the potential competition on Saturday when Oklahoma visits Oklahoma State (11 a.m., Ch. 7) in the annual Bedlam game. If the Cowboys beat OU, they win the Big 12 and start planning their trip to Arizona. If the Sooners win, it’ll turn Texas at Baylor (2:30 p.m., Fox-32) into the league title game.
If you haven’t been paying razor-sharp attention to the college season, it might surprise you to learn that Stanford is playing Arizona State Saturday (6:45 p.m., ESPN) for the Pac-12 title and the Sun Devils — yes, the Sun Devils — are the favorites.
Many folks in Big Ten country know ASU as the team that lucked out, thanks to a refereeing screwup, against Wisconsin back in September. Well, that team is 10-2 and was the only squad to go 8-1 in league play. Pac-12 title games are played on campus, and Stanford — which handed ASU that league loss, by a score of 42-28 in Palo Alto — prepares for a rematch in Tempe as an early 3½-point underdog.
How does an Arizona State-Michigan State Rose Bowl sound?
I might have to pass on that one myself.