It all came down to Saturday Dec. 7. The whole college football season would be determined by the conference championship games played by the SEC (Southeastern Conference), ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference), and Big Ten Conference. The results of these games would determine what schools will play in the national championship game on Jan. 6 in Pasadena, California.
The week before, popularly referred to as rivalry week due to a large amount of rivalry games being played out, set the stage for an important day last Saturday. The University of Alabama had been ranked as the number one team for the entirety of the year after winning the national championship last year but fell to in-state rival Auburn University in the Iron Bowl. The winner of the Iron Bowl has gone on to win the National Championship game the past four seasons. The win came on the very last play when Auburn returned a missed field goal back 108 yards for a touchdown with one second left. Auburn moved up to the number three ranking and played and went on to play number five University of Missouri in the SEC Championship game by a high score of 59-42 in Atlanta, Georgia. However, in order to advance to the BSC Championship game, Auburn needed either the first or second ranked teams to lose their conference championship.
Enter the Big Ten Conference Championship game in Indianapolis, Indiana. The game consisted of two teams who appeared to be mirror opposites of each other. On one side there was Ohio State which had gone through this year undefeated up until this game and ranked second in the country. Despite this, many believed Ohio State was overrated due to the weakness of their schedule and because of how close their games were to unranked teams. Ohio State was still undefeated however, and were doing so based on the strength of their offense. On the other side Michigan State came into the game ranked tenth in the country by quietly winning all of their games except for a close loss to Notre Dame early in the year. They had reached this success based on their defensive play. Once the game was played, defense came through as winners as Michigan State toppled Ohio State and become Big Ten Champions by a score of 34-24.
The final conference championship game with national title game implications was the ACC championship game played in Charlotte, North Carolina. Number one Florida State was set to play the number twenty rated Duke team. Duke, who had their best football season in recent memory, just had their head coach named coach of the year. Despite this, Florida State would prove too strong on all fronts as they defeated Duke by a score of 45-7 led by their star quarterback and Heisman favorite Jameis Winston, who had just found out that week he would not be charged in as sexual assault case against a former Florida State student.
The results of the conference championship games changed the seasons of Ohio State and Auburn drastically but confirmed that Florida State was still the team to beat in their first full week as being ranked number one. Florida State-Auburn will hopefully prove to be just as exciting as the conference championships that led to this game.