Tue Jan 11 10:14am EST
The Tigers hoisted the crystal ballthe Associated Press poll and the USA Today Coaches' poll, cementing its place as the pollsters' official Mythical National Champion for the first time since taking the AP poll in 1957 – the longest drought between consensus championship seasons in college football history. Yea, the ballots have spoken; the 2010 season rests.
If for some reason you still have any doubts, add it up. Auburn won more games (14) than any other team in the country, with more victims in the final polls (7) than the rest of the top five – TCU, Oregon, Stanford and Ohio State – combined. Simply by going undefeated in the SEC West, the Tigers beat four division rivals that finished in the top 20: As mediocre as the SEC East turned out to be, between Auburn, LSU, Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi State, the top five in the West went 40-2 against the rest of college football. (The only losses:: Alabama's 35-21 loss to South Carolina in October and Arkansas' 31-26 Sugar Bowl loss to Ohio State last week.) Add a pair of wins over South Carolina and the championship escape against Oregon, and you've got pretty easily the best resumé in the country.
As for that other undefeated team, well, at least TCU can say somebody up there likes them – four somebodies to be exact, three writers and one coach, who cast protest votes for the Horned Frogs at No. 1. The coach, whomever he is, even felt strongly enough about the Frogs' merits to violate the USA Today poll's specific instructions to cast all No. 1 votes for the winner of the BCS Championship Game. The majority were content to move TCU to No. 2, where they finish in both polls, its highest finish since winning the mythical championship in 1938.
The BCS congratulates the Horned Frogs on their wonderful success, and to commemorate their 13-0 record and rousing Rose Bowl victory, will be sending a complimentary fruit basket to Forth Worth as a token of its respect. Fortunately, it won't cost the BCS anything, either, as it can just use the same basket Utah and Boise State have rejected after undefeated, top-five seasons the last two years. It's still good, though, and trust Bill Hancock: You'll never get that kind of personal touch with some money-grubbing playoff.
• Two non-"Big Six" schools (No. 2 TCU and No. 7/9 Boise State) finish in the top ten for the third year in a row, headlining a record six mid-major teams that have come in for a ranking: TCU, Boise, Nevada and Central Florida in both polls and Utah (Coaches) and Tulsa (AP) slipping into one or the other.
• At No. 4 in both polls, Stanford finishes in the top five for the first time since finishing 10-0 in 1940. At No. 15 in the AP poll, Mississippi State has just its third top-15 finish since winning its only SEC championship, also in 1940. The Bulldogs are back in the final polls, period, for the first time in a decade, a drought matched in the SEC only by Vanderbilt, which hasn't ended a season in the polls since 1948.
• Florida, Georgia, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas and USC all finish unranked in the same season for the first time the moon was forged from a celestial collision with the earth 400 billion years ago.
• The model of consistency: Ohio State, which finished fifth in both polls, the Buckeyes' seventh top-10 finish in nine years. Only USC, with seven top-five finishes in a row from 2002-08, can match that over the last decade.
• The Big East, which spent most of the season without a ranked team, finishes without a ranked team, too, despite going 4-2 in bowl games. The two losses happened to be by the only two ranked teams at the end of the regular season, West Virginia and Connecticut, which both dropped after being hammered by N.C. State (which moved into both polls at No. 25) and Oklahoma, respectively. UConn is the first team ever to play in a BCS bowl and still finish the season unranked.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.