For Oregon, its not so much the funky uniforms as the players who wear them. For Auburn, its not so much about the bumpy road this season as where it will end.
The Ducks and Tigers locked up spots in the national title game Saturday, while the nations other undefeated team, TCU, closed the day looking at a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Rose Bowl that still feels like a consolation prize.
Ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25, Oregon (12-0) defeated Oregon State 37-20, and No. 2 Auburn (13-0) routed No. 18 South Carolina 56-17 in the SEC title game to secure spots in the BCS title game Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz. No. 3 TCU watched it all from home but got no help and got left out the way some team does almost every year in a sport that refuses to adopt a playoff.
Oregon opened as a three-point favorite Saturday night at the Las Vegas Hilton sports book, but within 30 minutes the line went down to a single point.
The title pairing will become official tonight when the BCS awards spots in the Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta Bowls along with the national championship game.
Going into Saturday, the top two teams were flipped in the BCS standings, with Auburn at No. 1 and Oregon ranked No. 2.
Oregon, the team with a multitude of uniform combinations that includes four helmets, five jerseys and four different colors of socks, is seeking the first national title in program history. Behind running back LaMichael James, the Ducks lead the nation in scoring with an average of more than 50 points per game.
The one thing I think, and now I hope, is that were not known for our uniforms, were known for the players inside the uniforms, and thats what makes this thing special, Ducks coach Chip Kelly said.
Auburn has been on a crazy ride this season, which has brought sometimes daily revelations about a pay-for-play scheme involving quarterback Cam Newtons failed recruitment to Mississippi State. Earlier in the week, Newton was cleared by the NCAA to play in the SEC title game, and, once again, he played undistracted football, leading an SEC team to the BCS championship game for the fifth consecutive year.
It was a lot of guys keeping me focused, Newton said. I just want to thank them. ... Theres some resilient guys on this team. Ive said that a billion times, but without the guys on this team, I wouldnt have had the success I did.
Newton, who threw for 335 yards and four touchdowns Saturday, and James, who ran for 134 yards and two scores, are among the favorites to win the Heisman trophy when its awarded next Saturday. One day short of a month later, they go for an even bigger prize.
Auburns only other title came in 1957, though in 2004, the Tigers finished 12-0 and were left out of the championship game. That was one of the most controversial episodes in what has become an annual debate about who got the best and worst of the deal in college footballs widely derided system of determining a champion sans a playoff.
This years have not is TCU, which finished 12-0. But it topped the non-BCS Mountain West Conference, not the highly regarded SEC, and never had the caché to break into the top two.
The Horned Frogs almost certainly will end up making their first trip to the Rose Bowl, where theyll likely play Wisconsin, the pick from a three-way tie for the Big Ten title because of its higher BCS ranking.
Everyone won. Theres nothing we can do about it, TCU coach Gary Patterson said. I can live with all three being undefeated.
No. 10 Oklahoma 23, No. 13 Nebraska 20
ARLINGTON, Texas No. 10 Oklahoma earned a spot in Fiesta Bowl and ruined Nebraskas last conference game as a member of the Big 12 for good measure.
Travis Lewis had an interception in the end zone and recovered two fumbles as the Sooners rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat Nebraska in the Big 12 championship, the Cornhuskers last stand in the conference before they jump to the Big Ten next season.
Landry Jones threw for 342 yards and a touchdown and also sneaked in for another score from 1 yard out as the Sooners (11-2) made the biggest comeback in Big 12 title game history.
The No. 13 Cornhuskers (10-3) self-destructed, squandering a 17-0 lead with four turnovers and getting shut out in the second half for the first time all season.
Jimmy Stevens delivered the game-winner, a 27-yard field goal, with 8:28 to play.
Oklahoma won its seventh Big 12 title more than twice as many as any other school and the seventh in a row by schools from the South Division.
No. 12 Virginia Tech 44, No. 20 Florida State 33
CHARLOTTE, N.C. It took just five days for Virginia Tech to go from national title contender to head-scratching also-ran.
Then the Hokies began to turn their season around. Theyve been getting better ever since.
Slowly and quietly, they have climbed back with 11 consecutive victories, culminating in Tyrod Taylors four-touchdown performance Saturday as No. 12 Virginia Tech beat No. 20 Florida State for its third Atlantic Coast Conference title in four years.
No. 12 Virginia Tech 35, Rutgers 14
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. Geno Smith threw for a career-high 352 yards, Ryan Clarke had three short touchdown runs, and No. 23 West Virginia overcame turnover problems to beat Rutgers and clinch at least a share of the Big East title.
The Mountaineers (9-3, 5-2) will share the Big East with Connecticut, which got by South Florida 19-16, on Dave Teggarts 52-yard field goal with 17 seconds left to win the leagues BCS slot.
The unranked Huskies made the BCS despite having a four-loss season.
No. 14 Nevada 35, Louisiana Tech 17
RUSTON, La. Colin Kaepernick tied an NCAA record for touchdowns rushing by a quarterback, and Nevada won a share of the Western Athletic Conference title with a victory over Louisiana Tech.
Kaepernick scored three touchdowns on the ground, giving him 59 for his career, tying the mark held by Nebraskas Eric Crouch. Vai Taua rushed for 162 yards and two scores.
The victory assured the Wolf Pack (12-1, 7-1 WAC) its first share of a WAC title since 2005 and its best regular season since moving up to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1992.