- Associated Press - Friday, December 6, 2013

ATLANTA (AP) - Sorry, Southeastern Conference.

You had your chance.

Now, it’s out of your hands.

If top-ranked Florida State and No. 2 Ohio State both win on Saturday, they deserve to play for the national title _ and no amount of griping from the SEC should make a bit of difference.

The Seminoles have done what they needed to do: win every game.

Ditto for the Buckeyes, even if people want to gripe about the quality of the Big Ten.

Neither No. 3 Auburn nor No. 5 Missouri _ the one-loss teams that will meet Saturday at the Georgia Dome for the SEC title _ should leapfrog Ohio State if the Buckeyes emerge with a victory in their own league championship game that night.

The SEC has claimed an unprecedented seven straight national titles, and some would have you believe it’s almost a birthright that the country’s strongest conference (no argument there) should have a representative in the title game, no matter what.

“It’s like being in the NFL,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said Friday. “Every week, you have a high-level game.”

“All I know,” added Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, “is we’ve got the best league in college football.”

But this isn’t about the best league, it’s about the two most worthy teams over the course of the entire season. Under this flawed system (which, thankfully, will be replaced next year by a four-team playoff), if you play in a major conference and win all your games, it takes a pretty compelling argument for a one-loss team to bump you out of a spot in the BCS championship.

Auburn can’t make that case.

Missouri can’t, either.

Let’s start with the Tigers from Auburn. The best part of their resume is last week’s remarkable victory over two-time defending national champion Alabama, when they returned a missed field goal 109 yards for the winning touchdown on the final play. If you beat the best, they say, you deserve a chance to be the best.

The Tigers also point to their overall schedule, which included four other games against teams that we ranked in the Top 25 when they played. But Auburn lost 35-21 at LSU _ a game that really wasn’t that close _ and victories over Mississippi, Texas A&M and Georgia don’t look quite as impressive in hindsight.

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