Campus Corner

Looking back at the year in college football and ahead to the new playoff

Updated: 2014-01-07T00:57:26Z

By BLAIR KERKHOFF

The Kansas City Star

As Florida State and Auburn settled the final BCS National Championship Game on Monday night, we look ahead and back on college football.

It was a season of miracle finishes by the Tigers, stunning excellence and potential legal trouble by Heisman Trophy-winning Jameis Winston of Florida State, the end of Ohio State’s 24-game winning streak and better-than-projected seasons from Missouri, Duke and Baylor.

Next season, major change

The BCS belongs to the history book, and the College Football Playoff is on the clock. Things are about to change.

No BCS standings, computer rankings or Harris Poll. No formulas for selecting two teams for the national championship game.

Instead, the speculation will center around college football’s final four. How will those teams be seeded and where will they play?

This is what is known: The semifinals will be played on Jan. 1, 2015, in the Rose and Sugar bowls. The championship game is Jan. 12 at Arlington, Texas.

The four teams will be selected by a 13-member committee, chaired by Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long.

Four other bowl games are considered majors, although a formal title (such as BCS bowls) hasn’t been determined. They are the Orange, Cotton, Chick-fil-A and Fiesta. The semifinal bowl pair will rotate among those bowls plus the Rose and Sugar, and the national championship for the 2015 season will be played in Glendale, Ariz.

What is also known is that speculation will continue and perhaps be more intense than ever. Think about the top four teams in the BCS last year and apply them to the new playoff. The order of Florida State, Auburn, Alabama and Michigan State would have meant semifinals of Seminoles-Spartans in the Sugar Bowl and an Iron Bowl rematch in the Rose Bowl.

Why ship two Alabama teams to Pasadena?

“No. 1 will be protected and play as close to home as possible,” said Bill Hancock, president of the BCS and the College Football Playoff. “Imagine an Iron Bowl rematch in Los Angeles. Wow.”

Even if that means sending the three others out of the geographical region or historically connected bowl game.

“It has to be a pure bracket,” Hancock said. “To protect the pureness of the bracket is the most important thing.”

But a committee will work behind closed doors. Using the 2013 example, could it not switch No. 3 Alabama with No. 4 Michigan State, giving the Sugar Bowl an all-South matchup and the Rose Bowl a Big Ten team?

That’s the type of situation the committee could confront later this year with no easy answer.

Top plays of 2013

Last-minute or final-play miracle victories are lifetime memories. Or, in Auburn’s case, a nearly weekly occurrence.

Ricardo Louis didn’t see the long pass intended for him tipped by two Georgia defenders, but Louis caught a glimpse of the ball floating toward him and turned it into a game-winning 73-yard touchdown reception dubbed “The Prayer at Jordan-Hare” on Nov. 16.

Two weeks later, Auburn topped that moment when Chris Davis returned a missed Alabama field-goal attempt 109 yards as time expired, winning the Iron Bowl and dethroning the two-time national champion Crimson Tide.

The Tigers didn’t corner the market on miracles. Nebraska trailed Northwestern by four and was down to its final snap. Quarterback Ron Kellogg III heaved a rainbow to the end zone, where Jordan Westerkamp emerged from a cluster to grab the ball for a Hail Mary victory on Nov. 2 in Lincoln, Neb.

Virtuoso performances

• Auburn running back Tre Mason couldn’t be stopped in the SEC championship against Missouri, rushing for 304 yards in a 59-42 triumph.

• Boston College running back Andre Williams ran wild against North Carolina State, rolling to 339 yards in 42 attempts and two touchdowns in a 38-21 victory on Nov. 16.

• Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett racked up 440 total yards, one of the top-five efforts in major college history, but it wasn’t enough for the Wildcats to overcome Oklahoma 41-31 on Nov. 23.

Top games

Auburn 34, Alabama 28

Auburn’s Iron Bowl victory might have been the top game without Davis’ field-goal return. The Tigers tied the score on a touchdown pass with 32 seconds remaining and A.J. McCarron threw a 99-yard go-ahead strike earlier in the fourth quarter. Davis’ return gives the game an all-time ranking.

Ohio State 42, Michigan 41

The Buckeyes won the game on Nov. 30 to remain undefeated and in a prime BCS position, but the competitiveness of underdog Michigan was the story. A two-point conversation with 32 seconds failed, preserving Ohio State’s triumph.

Alabama 49, Texas A&M 42

Johnny Football was epic, passing for 464 yards and five touchdowns, and wide receiver Mike Evans became a star with 279 receiving yards. But Manziel couldn’t get the Aggies a victory on Sept. 14 as Alabama held on in a game that lived up the hype.

They did what?

2012 2013

Team20122013
Auburn0-8 in SECPlayed for BCS National Championship
Missouri2-6 in SECWon SEC East and Cotton Bowl, finished 12-2
Duke6-7 overallFirst 10-victory season in school history

Too early top 10 for 2014

1. Florida State

2. Alabama

3. Stanford

4. Michigan State

5. Auburn

6. Ohio State

7. LSU

8. UCLA

9. Oklahoma

10. Oregon

National semifinals

•  Sugar: Florida State vs. Michigan State

•  Rose: Stanford vs. Alabama

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff.

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