While week 14 of the 2014 College Football season was dubbed rivalry week for the history in most of its encounters, the focus went to the division and conferences titles to be decided, and what the results meant for the next playoff rankings to be released, as the SEC (with Alabama and Missouri) was finally decided, Oregon found it it’ll play Arizona for the Pac-12, Wisconsin are the ones who get to play Ohio State for the Big Ten and Florida State remain the only undefeated team in the nation after Marshall lost in something that looked like a basketball game.
Not that the Thunder Herd were going to the playoff or a major bowl game. And yet, an undefeated season is always something remarkable, regardless of the schedule. The #24 team in the nation (ranked below a two-loss Boise State team heading into this week) lost 67-66 to Western Kentucky. Instead of having a memorable season, it’ll be just a good one that’s forgotten very quickly, even for a school without a lot of success in the field like Marshall.
Florida State are still undefeated, although barely getting by a terrible Florida team, including four interceptions by Jameis Winston, isn’t going to help them win over votes in the rankings. Still, Florida State, at 12-0, aren’t going to fall out of the favor of the committee, not getting the excuse they waited for. Maybe Georgia Tech will be able to call the Seminoles’ bluff, who’ll remain the #3 team in the nation, heading into the ACC championship game.
Can Georgia Tech do it? They have beaten Clemson and now Georgia to produce an impressive resume going into the conference championship game. Even if they do beat Florida State, it won’t help them get into the playoff, but they’ve shown they can hang with “bigger” teams and schools, not to mention rise to the occasion with the pressure on them. Florida State are vulnerable, but it takes an incredible effort to actually put them down, something no one has done since 2012.
Alabama beat Auburn despite falling behind by 12 points in a great Iron Bowl, while in the meantime Mississippi State were imploding in the Egg Bowl. All season long, despite their wins over ranked teams, people were mentioning how the big test will be winning on the road in Tuscaloosa and Oxford. Turns out those people were right, as the unlikely bid of the Bulldogs to make a national impact fell flat on their two toughest road games.
In the East, Missouri get a chance to play against Alabama for the national title. It wasn’t a very impressive season for the Tigers – weak schedule, a shutout loss to Georgia, a loss to Indiana, one of the worst teams in the Big Ten. Still, they didn’t fall when it mattered, unlike Georgia, constantly the most talented team in the SEC East, but a team that messes up somehow against the most unlikely of opponents. They knew they weren’t going anywhere when they took the field against Georgia Tech.
Wisconsin get to play a weakened Ohio State in the Big Ten after beating Minnesota to win the West division. Ohio State did walk away with a 42-28 win against Michigan, performing well in the second half. However, they lost J.T. Barrett to a season ending ankle injury, meaning they’ll play a dangerous Wisconsin team who run just as well as they do if not better with their third-string quarterback. They might have been a deserving playoff team up to this point, but Barrett’s injury changes the entire thing.
In the Pac-12 things got turned around pretty quickly. Oregon needed the win over Oregon State to keep on track among the top 4, but the biggest events were happening South. UCLA were stunned at home by a so-so Stanford team, which meant that Arizona State and Arizona were playing for the right to play in the conference championship game. Arizona pulled ahead early in the second half and never looked back, now playing against a Ducks team they’ve already beaten this season.
The Big 12 doesn’t have a championship game. They have an extra week of football. TCU, the highest ranked of the one-loss teams in the conference, came away with a huge win on the road against Texas. Kansas State got a big, expected win against Kansas, while Baylor almost lost to Texas Tech, putting them in a rough situation for this week in front of the voters. A win against Kansas State next week might help remedy that almost flop.