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College Football 2013: What We Learned in Week 15

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Some big upsets shook up the BCS and will give us a surprise matchup in the national championship game. Here is what we learned in the final week of college football’s regular season.

Florida State Shows Why The ‘Noles are Number One

With his potential legal problems behind him, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston showed why he is the Heisman frontrunner with another big game to lead the Seminoles in a 45-7 rout of No. 20 Duke and to clinch a spot in the BCS national title game. Winston threw for 330 yards and two touchdowns while adding another 119 yards and two scores on the ground. Florida State’s stifling defense had an equally excellent game, allowing just 239 yards and not giving up a score until late in the fourth quarter when the game was already decided. The Seminoles are now 12-0 for the first time since 1999, when they won the national championship.

Ohio State Falls on the Big Stage

After winning 24 straight games, No. 2 Ohio State had just one more to win to give them a shot at the national championship. But in the Big Ten title game, the Buckeyes came up short against No. 10 Michigan State, 34-24. Ohio State rolled up 273 rushing yards against the nation’s best rush defense (67.4 YPG coming into this one), but the Spartans made they plays when it mattered most, holding the Buckeyes to just 1/10 on third down and 0/2 on fourth down. Michigan State’s sophomore quarterback Connor Cook had the biggest game of his young career, throwing for a career-high 304 yards and three touchdowns in the win that will send Michigan State to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1988. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, will likely still receive a BCS at-large bid, but won’t be playing for their first national championship in 11 years.

Auburn Will Have a Chance to Play for It All

Ohio State’s loss opened the door for the SEC to claim its eighth consecutive national title. No. 3. Auburn came out on top of a back-and-forth 59-42 shootout against No. 5 Missouri to claim the conference title and a chance for the Tigers’ second championship in four years. Auburn running back Tre Mason was a one-man wrecking crew, rushing for 304 yards and four touchdowns on 46 carries (all SEC Championship game records) in the win. The once-vaunted SEC defense was nowhere to be found in this one as the two teams combined for 101 points and over 1,200 yards of total offense. As evidenced by Mason’s stat line, the key in this game was Missouri’s inability to stop the run–Mizzou gave up another SEC-record 545 yards on the ground after giving up an average of just 119 per game prior to Saturday. The lead changed hands seven times in this one, but Auburn outscored Missouri 28-8 over the game’s final 19 minutes to seal the victory.

Bedlam Lived Up to Its Name

Subbing for the injured Trevor Knight, backup quarterback Blake Bell led No. 17 Oklahoma on an eight-play, 66-yard drive in just 1:27 to score the go-ahead touchdown with just 19 seconds left to end No. 6 Oklahoma State’s bid for its second Big 12 title in three years. The Sooners’ offense managed just two field goals through the game’s first 59 minutes and OU was only in the game thanks a special teams unit that scored touchdowns on a 64-yard punt return and a fake field goal. Oklahoma has now beaten the Cowboys in 10 of the last 11 years. The 33-24 loss, combined with No. 9 Baylor’s win over Texas, gives the Bears their first Big 12 title and a trip to the Fiesta Bowl.

Northern Illinois: BCS Busted

After breaking into the BCS last year, No. 14 Northern Illinois’ hopes to crash the party again came to an end this weekend with a 47-27 loss to Bowling Green in the MAC Championship game. The Falcons held Northern Illinois to its lowest point total of the season while torching the Huskies’ defense for almost double their season average in points allowed. While NIU’s record-setting quarterback Jordan Lynch had another solid game (219 yards passing, 126 rushing and three total touchdowns), the loss probably doomed his dark horse Heisman candidacy.

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