AUBURN, Ala. Auburn is on the precipice of playing for a BCS title.
Sunday night, the Tigers (.9233) moved up to No. 3 in the latest BCS Standings after their 34-28 victory over arch-rival Alabama this past weekend. The only question now is whether Auburn can move any higher. The top two in the BCS Standings are held by No. 1 Florida State (.9948) and No. 2 Ohio State (.9503), both undefeated teams in major conferences. Just as the Tigers will do this Saturday, the Seminoles and Buckeyes will play in conference championship games, in the ACC and Big Ten, respectively.
Florida States lead in the standings is enough that as long as it beats Duke, it should be able to punch its ticket to Pasadena, Calif., for the BCS Championship Game on Jan. 6 without a second thought. The same cant be said for the Buckeyes, who some believe could be leapfrogged by Auburn if the Tigers beat No. 5 Missouri in Saturdays SEC Championship game.
How strongly do the Tigers themselves feel about this possibility?
It depends on who you ask.
Gus Malzahn refused to wade into the matter, as hes using all of his energy to devise a game plan for Saturday.
I'm focused on the SEC Championship game and Missouri, Auburns head coach said during a Sunday teleconference. Our league is the top league in college football. That's really how I feel about it.
While Malzahn was tight-lipped, Jay Jacobs was more than happy to delve into the discussion.
Auburns athletic director told USA Today that it would be a disservice to the nation if the Tigers were left out of the national championship game, citing the schools 2004 team, which went undefeated but was forced to watch Southern Cal and Oklahoma duke it out for the crystal football.
And Jacobs didnt just lobby for his own school.
An SEC team can't get left out of the (championship game) with one loss," Jacobs said following Auburns win against Alabama. And a one-loss SEC team that wins in Atlanta if it's us or Missouri you can't get left out of the BCS after you beat the No. 1 team. We have a better argument because we beat the No. 1 team.
At the outset of the season, few if any believed Auburn would be in this position. But after knocking off the two-time defending national champion Crimson Tide, Dee Ford thinks the Tigers have earned the right to be ranked in the top two.
We said that (winning the national championship) was our goal coming into the season, the senior defensive end said. No one believed us and now were here. I think we definitely deserve every bit of it.
Ryan Smith wouldnt go quite as far following Saturday nights victory. Yes, he thinks the Tigers have been playing like one of the best teams in the country and are only continuing to improve each week. But the senior safety wouldnt say that Auburn should be ahead of Ohio State.
Sunday night, he changed his tune.
We just played the No. 1 team in the country and we won," he said. I feel like we should be in (the national championship game).
However, Smith was quick to acknowledge the Tigers case for the national championship will be rendered a moot point if they dont win Saturday.
We really cant worry about what Florida State and Ohio State do, he said. Weve just got to worry about winning this SEC Championship and taking care of what we can take care of, because if we dont care of our business, the rest doesnt matter.
Either way, Avery Young wont lose any sleep over it.
Young, the Tigers starting right tackle, said he never looks at the rankings, nor talks about them with teammates. As the redshirt freshman pointed out, the rankings are too fickle to care about; one day a team is No. 1, and the next it slides out of the top five (or further) following a bad loss. So Young will leave others to debate the Tigers national title merit or lack thereof.
Besides, he said with a smile, things always seem to have a way of working out in the end.
I think we'll be wherever we're meant to be at, he said. It's in God's hands now.