Irving, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - It was as wild a month to finish a college football season in recent memory.
In the final year of the BCS, it was only fitting.
In a mad sprint to the finish, the SEC's chances to win an eighth consecutive national title are still alive, as No. 2 Auburn will play top-ranked and undefeated Florida State in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 6.
On the outside looking in two weeks ago, Ohio State finally got the break it needed entering Saturday's conference championship games. Following a heart- stopping win against arch-rival Michigan, the Buckeyes' team bus reacted with joy on the ride back to Columbus when Chris Davis returned a missed field goal 100 yards for a touchdown as Auburn stunned two-time defending champion Alabama, 34-28, in the 78th Iron Bowl.
After the "Prayer at Jordan-Hare" and the Davis "Kick Six" led to improbable victories in back-to-back weeks, Auburn didn't need a miracle Saturday, but the Tigers needed help from Michigan State.
They got it.
The Spartans were a thorn in the Buckeyes' side as they ended Ohio State's national title hopes and its 24-game winning streak in the Big Ten title game.
Now Auburn, which improved its win total from last year by nine under new head coach Gus Malzahn, is celebrating.
"Our goal was real simple, just improve each game. We felt like if we did that we'd have a chance to be a pretty good team at the end of the year," Malzahn said. "We look up and we're playing for the National Championship, and it's really something,"
In order to win their second title in four years, the Tigers will need to get past Jameis Winston and a Florida State squad which won each of its games by at least 14 points.
The freshman phenom and Heisman favorite Winston, who was cleared of allegations he sexually assaulted a woman last year on Thursday, set a pair of individual FBS freshman marks with 38 TD passes and 3,820 yards through the air.
"He did an unbelievable job of dealing with the adversity which he had to deal with," FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said of Winston.
The Seminoles (13-0) had a .9957 average, leading the Harris Interactive, USA Today and aggregate computer rankings, while Auburn (12-1, .9638) vaulted into the second spot for the first time all season following its 59-42 win over Missouri in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday afternoon.
FSU routed Duke 45-7 in the ACC title tilt. The Seminoles will play for it all for the first time since 2000 and are seeking their first BCS title since 1999.
The final BCS title game will be played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Next year will mark the first of the College Football Playoff, which will consist of the top four teams.
Ohio State fell to seventh in the BCS standings following its defeat and will clash with No. 12 Clemson in the Orange Bowl. The Buckeyes will play in their record 10th BCS bowl.
The Rose Bowl will consist of its usual clash between Big Ten and Pac-12 champions as No. 4 Michigan State will play No. 5 Stanford. The Spartans and their top-ranked defense are making their first Rose Bowl appearance since 1987. The Cardinal, meanwhile, will be in a BCS Bowl for a fourth straight year.
Alabama finished No. 3 in the BCS and will face No. 11 Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. The Sooners upset intrastate rival Oklahoma State on Saturday to move into a BCS bowl. The game will be a preview of the bowl's future as the first edition of the new Sugar Bowl between the champions of the SEC and Big 12 is slated for next season. If the SEC or the Big 12 champion advances to the national semifinals, each conference would then send another team to New Orleans.
The final BCS game, the Fiesta Bowl, will feature No. 6 and Big 12 winner Baylor and AAC champion and No. 15 UCF.
No. 8 Missouri and No. 9 South Carolina were the two highest-ranked schools left out of the BCS. Only the top two teams from each conference are permitted to go to BCS bowls. Auburn and Alabama are representing the SEC.
No. 10 Oregon, which had played in four straight BCS bowl games, was left out of the BCS picture.
Mountain West Conference champion Fresno State (No. 20) was the highest rated school from outside the five automatic-qualifying conferences.