The gradual upgrade in quality of bowl games means we’re approaching the big day – the College Football playoff, with the four teams trying to win the national championship: Alabama from the SEC, Florida State of the ACC, Ohio State from the Big Ten and Oregon of the Pac-12.
Interestingly enough, only Mark Helfrich (of Oregon) hasn’t coached a team to a national championship, being an HC for only his second season. Saban has four titles, three of them with Alabama; Urban Meyer has won the BCS national title twice (with Florida) and Jimbo Fisher is currently trying to defend the national title he coached FSU to win last season.
Alabama Crimson Tide
2014 Season: Alabama won the SEC for a third time under Nick Saban, finishing with a 12-1 record. Their only loss to Ole Miss was negated and forgotten the moment they beat Mississippi State, followe by a high scoring Iron Bowl and eventually easily getting past Missouri in the championship game.
Success under Saban: Nick Saban has been the head coach for the Tide since 2007. Under his guidance, they’ve won three national titles (2009, 2011, 2012). They lost the two BCS Bowls they played during his tenure when it wasn’t for the title, including last season to Oklahoma.
Rivals: Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.
More: Have given up over 21 points just twice this season, and are third in the nation in points allowed, holding teams to 16.6 per game.
Florida State Seminoles
2014 Season: The Seminoles went undefeated once again to win the ACC for a third straight year, yet no one was left impressed, because of their ability in most of their wins. Seven of them were by a margin of seven points or less, and the committee was looking all season long to drop them from the top 4 but didn’t have a good enough reason.
Success under Fisher: Is a national championship in 2013 while going undefeated enough? Florida State have never lost a bowl game with Fisher as their head coach, which includes the Orange Bowl two years ago.
Rivals: Oregon in the Rose Bowl.
More: Haven’t lost a game since playing vs Florida in 2012. It’s been 28 consecutive wins since, including 16-0 in ACC play.
Ohio State Buckeyes
2014 Season: A loss early on to Virginia Tech didn’t doom the Buckeyes who were perfect for a third straight season in the Big Ten, including a whopping 59-0 win against Wisconsin in the championship game.
Success under Meyer: OSU are 24-0 in the Big Ten with Meyer as their head coach. After a perfect 2012 with a bowl ban, 2013 ended a little less happily, losing to Michigan State in the championship game and to Clemson in the BCS bowl.
Rivals: Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
More: The Buckeyes are heading into this game with their third string quarterback, Cardale Jones, throwing for 257 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Wisconsin.
2014 Season: The Ducks find a way to make things complicated, this time by losing at home to Arizona. But they blew away the competition including UCLA, Stanford, Michigan State in their OOC and eventually Arizona again in the championship game to win the Pac-12.
Success under Helfrich: This is only the second season for Helfrich as the head coach. They won the Alamo Bowl last season.
Rivals: Florida State in the Rose Bowl.
More: They’ve scored 40 points or more in all but two of their games – one of them they lost and the other won by just seven points. Key?