CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Southeastern Conference has stated its case. Now all Auburn can do is watch, wait and hope for No. 1 Florida State or No. 2 Ohio State to stumble.
After a week of lobbying by the SEC to have its champion play for the BCS national title ahead of an unbeaten team, No. 3 Auburn (12-1) won the conference with a wild 59-42 victory over No. 5 Missouri. It was quite a show, but it's unlikely to be enough to jump the Seminoles or Buckeyes if they stay undefeated.
So it'll be up to No. 20 Duke or No. 10 Michigan State to pave the way for Tigers to get a chance in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 6 to run the SEC's streak of consecutive BCS titles to eight.
Florida State was a four-touchdown favorite heading into the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game against Duke in Charlotte. Ohio State had what looked like a much tougher task — No. 10 Michigan State and its top-ranked defense.
The Buckeyes have been the target for the SEC supporters, who have insisted that their champion's one loss is as good as the Buckeyes' none because they played a tougher schedule.
Still, Ohio State held a solid lead in the BCS standings coming into the weekend, and the chances of the Buckeyes beating the Spartans and blowing that lead, seems remote.
A loss is what Auburn, which was third in the BCS coming into this weekend, needs. As SEC Commissioner Mike Slive told FoxSports.com earlier this week: "I'll be a Spartan for a day."
And why stop there? If the unthinkable happens and Duke pulls the upset, along with Michigan State, a second all-SEC BCS championship game in three years is probably in the cards, with No. 4 Alabama getting a shot at its third straight national title.
Yes, a rematch of the Iron Bowl in the Rose Bowl.
The Big 12 also settled its BCS business on Saturday. No. 9 Baylor (11-1) won the conference and locked up an automatic bid to the Fiesta Bowl, with some help from Oklahoma. Before the Bears beat Texas 30-10, the 18th-ranked Sooners upset No. 6 Oklahoma State 33-24 in Stillwater to keep the Cowboys from winning the Big 12. Baylor will play No. 15 UCF (11-1), the American Athletic Conference champion, in its first BCS appearance.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP