The Spread, Week 15: Auburnt

As expected, we are now down to just two undefeated major conference teams. All that hand-wringing over how we would deal with the glut of perfect seasons seems silly now. Assuming both Florida State and Ohio State take care of business (which is a big assumption, at this point), the national title game matchup is an obvious choice, right?

Of course not.

Those in SEC country are having a hard time dealing with the fact that they very likely will not have at least one representative in the national game for the first time in eight seasons. Auburn AD Jay Jacobs is going full Kubler-Ross on this one, already covering denial (“A one-loss SEC [champ] can’t get left out. It’s impossible.”) and anger, calling the potential snub a “disservice to the nation.” Baby steps, Jay, baby steps.

Auburn has a devastating 14-point loss to 9-3 LSU on their resume though, and that’s going to be enough to keep them out if they don’t get help. That help would almost have to come from Michigan State, since the only other possibility is Duke beating Florida State, which isn’t even a sentence I should have to type about football. I mean, it would be awesome, but let’s not get crazy.

And should the Spartans be victorious Saturday night (which is entirely possible), then shouldn’t they finally enter the conversation? Mark Dantonio thinks so, and I agree. They have a dominant defense that has held half of their opponents under seven points. No one has scored more than 28 on them, and the two times that happened, the Spartans put up 40+ of their own.

By contrast, Auburn held only Western Carolina to less than seven points and gave up 28+ four times. Six of their eleven wins are by fewer than 10 points, and again, their loss was by 14. Michigan State won every game by at least 10, and only lost by 4, to a Notre Dame team that is only one game worse–record-wise–than LSU.

It’s actually Missouri (Auburn’s SEC championship opponent who just might make all this discussion irrelevant) that has a good argument to be favored over Michigan State. Missouri’s loss is a three-point double-overtime drop to 10-2 South Carolina and occurred without their starting QB in the lineup. Missouri has been far more dominant than Auburn, winning only once by fewer than 10 points. I would still give the nod to Michigan State if that were the choice, but it would be a little tougher.

But why stop there? It’s not like Alabama has reason to believe that winning their own division should be a pre-requisite to a national title berth, so even they have come up with a way to get back in the picture. You might think that a rematch of the most thrilling upset of the season would make a great national title game. It wouldn’t. We just did this. Have you forgotten?

As much as the common sports fan thinks he doesn’t want to see Ohio State in the national championship game, it is our duty to spare them from these other, far less desirable scenarios. We must beat Michigan State on Saturday. Not doing so would be a disservice to the nation.


  1. “Help us, Urban Won Kenobi, you’re our only hope!”
    -the Nation

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