CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The last steps to the BCS championship game summed up their seasons.
For No. 1 Florida State, it was a breeze. For Auburn, it took the unexpected.
The Seminoles will play the Tigers for the BCS title on Jan. 6 in Pasadena, Calif., after Auburn capped its remarkable turnaround season with a wild victory over Missouri in the Southeastern Conference title game, and then No. 2 Ohio State was upset by Michigan State on Saturday night.
“We going to the SHIP? (hash)Pasadena Bound,” Auburn running back Tre Mason posted on his Twitter account.
For Florida State, it was business as usual against No. 20 Duke. Jameis Winston passed for 330 yards and accounted for four touchdowns, and the Seminoles’ defense smothered the Blue Devils 45-7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship in Charlotte.
Florida State (13-0) has won each of its games by at least 14 points.
“We’re not champs yet,” coach Jimbo Fisher yelled to his team after it crushed Duke.
“We’re trying to do something so much bigger than this,” Winston said.
Florida State will play for the national title for the first time since the 2000 season, and Winston will likely have to stop in New York to pick up the Heisman Trophy before heading to Southern California. The Seminoles will be looking for their first BCS title since 1999, and they’ll be trying to break the SEC’s seven-year national championship streak before the BCS is replaced by a four-team playoff next year.
“It’s not the SEC conference vs. the ACC conference,” Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner said. “It’s Florida State vs. Auburn.”
It looked as if the SEC did itself in last week, when Auburn upset Alabama. Florida State moved to No. 1 in the BCS standings and Ohio State to No. 2.
Auburn was No. 3, but the SEC was not about to just sit there and hope for an upset.
The Buckeyes were the target for the SEC supporters, who have insisted that their champion’s one-loss resume would be as good as that of an unbeaten Buckeyes team because Auburn _ or Missouri _ would have played a tougher schedule.
“I have nine words,” Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs was quoted as saying by SI.com on Saturday night after the Tigers’ 59-42 victory over Missouri. “Strength of schedule. Strength of schedule. Strength of schedule.”
Now, it doesn’t matter.