The BCS era ends with the dethroning of the SEC as Florida State win the national championship game against Auburn, earning them the top spot in the year-end polls and rankings, with Auburn, Rose Bowl champions Michigan State, South Carolina and Missouri completing the top 5.
Oklahoma didn’t win their conference but a strong finish in Bedlam and the Sugar Bowl got them to #6, dropping Alabama who had an awful finish to the season to #7 after spending all year at #1. Clemson, the Orange Bowl champions, finish at #8, while the surprising UCF, the Fiesta Bowl winners, complete the top 10, leaving Ohio State and Stanford looking from the outside.
1. Florida State Seminoles (60 first place votes), 14-0: No question. The Seminoles finished the season undefeated in the ACC, including the demolition of Clemson and Florida, coming back from an 18 point deficit in the BCS national championship game to come away with the 34-31 win over Auburn, their second BCS national championship and becoming the last team to win the trophy under the current format.
2. Auburn Tigers, 12-2: No one expected the Tigers to finish the season on top of the SEC, but they pulled off a few miracles in their wins over Georgia and Alabama, leading to beating Missouri in the SEC championship game and taking Florida State to the brink of their first loss in the NCG, losing 31-34.
3. Michigan State Spartans, 13-1: One the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1987, beating Stanford 24-20. They previously beat Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game, with their only loss this season coming against Notre Dame.
4. South Carolina Gamecocks, 11-2: The Gamecocks keep rising up polls and rankings, but they did without winning the SEC East or playing in a BCS bowl game, settling for a 34-24 win over Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl.
5. Missouri Tigers, 12-2: Another shocking presence considering the preseason polls, Missouri reached the SEC title game, losing to Auburn. They capped off a successful season with a 41-31 win over Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl.
6. Oklahoma Sooners, 11-2: No Big 12 title, but hard to say this is a disappointing season for the Sooners, claiming their biggest win in years with a 45-31 win against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl weeks after ruining a Big 12 title for their state rivals.
7. Alabama Crimson Tide, 11-2: Under Nick Saban, anything that’s not a national title is disappointing. After winning the first 11 games of the season, Alabama lost on the last second of their Iron Bowl against Auburn and then to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.
8. Clemson Tigers, 11-2: Nothing is going to erase that humiliating loss to Florida State or yet another season of losing to South Carolina, but Clemson did make up for some of it with a win in a BCS Bowl game, beating Ohio State 40-35 in the Orange Bowl.
9. Oregon Ducks, 11-2: Like for others on this list, the bar was set very high with a national title in expectancy. Losses to Stanford and Arizona changed that for the Ducks, who did get to beat Texas in the Alamo Bowl 30-7 as a nice sending off to the 2013 season.
10. UCF Knights, 12-1: No doubt the most surprising team this season, cruising through the AAC and only one loss coming against South Carolina by 3 points. They played one heck of a game against Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl, winning 52-42.
11. Stanford Cardinal, 11-3: Stanford won the Pac-12 for a second consecutive season, but couldn’t get the job done in the Rose Bowl, losing 20-24 to Michigan State. Another year of beating Oregon didn’t matter after losing to Utah and USC.
12. Ohio State Buckeyes, 12-2: After 24 consecutive wins, everything came crashing down: Losing to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game and then to Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
13. Baylor Bears, 11-2: Even a loss to UCF in a very entertaining Fiesta Bowl (42-52) isn’t going to take away from a huge season for Baylor, winning the Big 12 and losing only once in conference play, beaten by Oklahoma State.
14. LSU Tigers, 10-3: A disappointing season for Les Miles and his crew, losing to Alabama, Ole Miss and Georgia, but coming away with a win in the Outback Bowl, beating Iowa 21-14.
15. Louisville Cardinals, 12-1: Many thought the Cardinals have the best shot at finishing undefeated, but they lost in a close one to UCF (38-35), having to settle for the Russell Athletic Bowl and beating Miami 36-9 before saying goodbye to their quarterback and head coach.
16. UCLA Bruins, 10-3: Didn’t make the Pac-12 title game like in the previous two years, but this was probably the Bruins’ best season in a very long time, beating USC to end the season and then Virginia Tech in the Sun Bowl.
17. Oklahoma State Cowboys, 10-3: Despite another 10-win season, it was a disappointing one for the Cowboys, losing to the Sooners on the final Big 12 game of the season, costing them a conference title, and then losing to Missouri in the Cotton Bowl 31-41.
18. Texas A&M Aggies, 9-4: The second season of Johnny Manziel wasn’t as successful as the first with the defense failing time after time. At least it had a happy ending with a 52-48 win over Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
19. USC Trojans, 10-4: Fired their head coach midway through the season and lost to both Notre Dame and UCLA. However, they did get to beat Stanford and a Bowl game, beating Fresno State 45-20 in the Las Vegas Bowl.
20. Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 9-4: It was always going to be a tough season after the almost perfect 2012, but the Fighting Irish did reasonably well with wins over Michigan State, Arizona State and USC, finishing with a 29-16 win over Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl.
21. Arizona State Sun Devils, 10-4: Losing Grice cost them the Pac-12 championship game against Stanford and the Holidy Bowl, losing to Texas Tech 37-23.
22. Wisconsin Badgers, 9-4: Made it to the Capital One Bowl but lost to South Carolina 24-34, in a season filled with what ifs and close losses to Arizona State, Ohio State and Penn State.
23. Duke Blue Devils, 10-4: No one really remembered when Duke were actually good, so despite losing to Florida State in the ACC championship game and to Texas A&M in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, it was a very fun ride.
24. Vanderbilt Commodores, 9-4: Vandy didn’t really pose a threat to the top teams in the SEC, but it’s amazing to see the turnaround this school has been going through, finishing the season with a 41-24 win over Houston in the BBVA Compass Bowl.
25. Washington Huskies, 9-4: This season was another step forward under Steve Sarkisian, but now he’s gone, as Washington once again failed to win the big games against the likes of Oregon, Stanford (who they beat last season), Arizona State and UCLA. The season did end on a positive note, beating BYU 31-16.