Road To The BCS: Michigan State And Auburn Are College Football’s Aunt Vivian(s)

It’s rare to attend a cheerful funeral where the minister speaks about the terrible injustices and deeds the deceased committed in their lifetime. "No one will miss him," he'd say to the four or five mourners/groundskeepers. "Now let's wrap this up. I've got a tee time at 3:30. "

However, that’s similar to what the BCS will be hearing when the clock strikes midnight on January 6th. Parts one and two of the BCS’ five-part homegoing had that aura. Props should go to the BCS’ pallbearers, Michigan State, UCF, Stanford and Baylor for keeping it riveting for eight quarters.

The dichotomy between the Fiesta Bowl and the Rose Bowl matchups was conspicuous before Wednesday night. Stanford and Michigan State are more physical than a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match.

Baylor and UCF score points so quickly, whole drives will pass while you take a bathroom break.

By the time those 7200 seconds on the BCS clock ticked off Wednesday night, the chasm was even more capacious than the difference between the late Uncle Phil's two wives.

If the BCS had a deathbead confession, it would probably discuss the wrongs it did to deserving teams, which it blocked from the national title game.

Like Aunt Viv, Michigan State and Auburn are circus mirror versions of one another. Auburn is the fair-skinned Aunt Viv #2 that gets to close out the Bowl Championship Series six days later with a crystal national championship trophy hanging in the balance. Michigan State should be watching them on Monday night with the same look on their faces as Jane Hubert (Aunt Viv #1) watching Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's final three seasons on the tube.

It begins with Malzahn and Dantonio. There are no more twwo-way superstars in football. Likewise, college football coaches often specialize in half of their craft. Unlike basketball or baseball, even head coaches are often virtuosos on one side of the ball.

Auburn and Michigan State two sides of the same coin. Like a rock vs. the hard place, Auburn’s offense and Michigan State’s defense are equally devastating. However, being a predominantly run-first, ball control defensive team to observers is akin to the biases confronted by dark skinned woman in Hollywood.  We all know Jameis is Will on the BSC show, but that still doesn't make it right.

Auburn and their flashy run-option are the light-skinned supermodel and Baylor’s offense is the blonde covergirl Brent Musenberger won't stop drooling over.

UCF was the redheaded stepchild invite.

It was only right for the Rose Bowl to end with Michigan State stuffing Stanford on a fourth and 1.

After Wednesday night’s victory, Michigan State players were naturally discussing national titles in 2014.

“The national championship, that's the next step for us. The Rose Bowl was this year, but the national championship is definitely next year." said Michigan State defensive end Shilque Calhoun.

That sounds all well, but their national title shot could have been next week if the playoff were taking place a year earlier. At least this time, they’ll have the all-important preseason ranking to propel them forward.

Vis-à-vis Auburn and Michigan State are equals. Both teams began the season unranked following dismal seasons in 2012. Auburn won three games and the Spartans finished 7-6, but under the BCS formula the power of perception elevated Auburn into the No. 2 slot.

Michigan State’s victory over No. 2 Ohio State on Dec. 7 was painted as a dye exposing the Big Ten’s deficiencies instead of one that touted the Spartan’s credentials.

The Spartans are as discriminatory towards offenses as voters, polls and fan opinions looking down at the Big Ten. Michigan State is probably as offensively limited as last season’s national runner-up, but an argument can still be made that they are the better team than Auburn.

Ironically, Michigan State’s sole loss of the season was to Notre Dame. Their dismantling of Stanford's offense wasn’t picturesque, but gritty defense isn’t supposed to be elegant.

The Fiesta Bowl was the party where everyone had a good time. The two defenses opened up and receivers were springing bubble screens to the house like they'd been uncorked on New Years Eve.

The American Athletic Conference has been thrust even lower than the gum on the SEC’s shoe. On Wednesday night though, they were a thorn beneath the Big 12 champ’s bare feet.

At the season’s commencement Blake Bortles was on the outside looking in at the nation’s top quarterbacks and the top 25.

Miami native Teddy Bridgewater and the Louisville Cardinals were the shoe-in to make a nest in the AAC’s final automatic qualifier BCS spot. It was reminiscent of when Bortles was the subordinate to Jeff Driskel as an Orlando-area high school senior quarterback prospect in the Class of 2010.

Bortles blew up both prognostications. Fittingly, he’s also projected to be the second quarterback drafted next May. Surprises come from where we least expect it. That's the very essence of surprises.

On ESPN’s Football Power Index, UCF was 37th. Baylor was fifth. The Fiesta Bowl was more entertaining to watch, but nobody is talking national championship for UCF off of their 52-42 win in 2014.

Offensively, Michigan State is flawed, but Auburn's defensive warts are glaring as well. They feature one of the worst defenses for a national title team in history. That would have been an intriguing semifinal battle of stength vs. weakness.

Quarterbacks earn Heismans, go No. 1, sign with Roc Nation Sports, earn the endorsements and get handed MVP trophies, but defense still wins championships. For all the adulation of Jameis Winston, FSU is still the nation’s stingiest scoring defense. However, because Nick Marshall is more explosive than Connor Cook, Michigan State never got a second look for the No. 2 ranking. Mark Dantonio, whom Saban hired as his defensive coordinator at Michigan State in 1995 constructed a better defense than the 2013 Crimson Tide at all levels.

This is why we need the playoff. So we can remove the biases and settle these debates in the dirt, turf or mildewed grass. We're almost done lowering the BCS six feet under, but like any life its eulogy features a slew of regrets from the past that should be acknowledged. That includes Utah in 2008, Boise State in 2009, Auburn in 2004 and Miami in 2000. Let's go ahead and add Michigan State to that list.