GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Although Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer was listed as questionable with a sore right passing elbow, there was no question in his mind that he would play Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.
Florida State will meet Auburn in the BCS national championship game on Jan. 6 in Pasadena, it was announced Sunday.
The matchup came as no surprise after Ohio State's loss on Saturday made it clear that Florida State and Auburn would be the top two teams in the final BCS standings, which determine the national title game participants. .
Florida State is No. 1 in the final BCS standings. The Seminoles finished the regular season as the only undefeated FBS team after beating Duke 45-7 in the Atlantic Coast Championship game. Seminoles redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston is the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, which will be presented on Saturday. Winston leads the nation in pass efficiency rating.
Auburn was No. 3 in the BCS standings last week, but benefited from Ohio State's 34-24 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game. Auburn handed Missouri a 59-42 defeat in the Southeastern Conference championship game, but probably would have been left out of the national title game if the Buckeyes, who were No. 2 last week, had remained unbeaten by beating Michigan State.
Had Ohio State won that game, there would have been controversy about whether the Buckeyes or Auburn deserved to face Florida State in the national title game. Ohio State's loss averted that controversy, allowing the Tigers to finish No. 2 in the BCS standings.
Auburn finished the season 12-1, with its lone loss coming against LSU. The Tigers won the national champion just three years ago when Cam Newton was their quarterback. However, their rise to a berth in the national title game this season under first-year coach Gus Malzahn came as a surprise. The Tigers were unranked in the preseason polls after going 3-9 overall and 0-8 in the SEC last season.
Auburn is hoping to become the eighth straight Southeastern Conference team to win the national championship.
The Tigers lead the nation in rushing, and Auburn running back ran for 304 yards against Missouri.
Florida State, which last won a national championship in the 1999 season, opened as a seven-point favorite over Auburn by the Las Vegas Hilton.
The matchups for the four other BCS games were also announced as Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Clemson worked their way into BCS games.
Alabama, which held the No. 1 spot most of the season before losing to Auburn, had a spot in a BCS game guaranteed by virtue of its No. 3 spot in the final BCS standings. The Crimson Tide will play in the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma. The Sooners (10-2) earned an at-large berth on the strength of its victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday. Oklahoma, No. 11 in the final BCS standings, got that berth over No. 10 Oregon, presumably because the Sooners are closer to New Orleans and will bring more fans.
No. 5 Stanford (10-2), which beat Arizona State in the Pac-12 title game, will face Big Ten champion Michigan State in the Rose Bowl. Both the Cardinal and No. 4 Michigan State rely on rugged defense and physical football.
Big 12 champion Baylor (11-1) will meet American Athletic Conference champion Central Florida (11-1) in the Fiesta Bowl.
Ohio State (12-1) dropped to No. 7 in the final BCS standings but still earned an at-large berth in the Orange Bowl, where it will play another at-large team in Clemson. The Tigers (10-2) are No. 12 in the BCS standings and lost their final regular-season game 31-17 to South Carolina. But only two teams from a given conference can play in BCS games, which left No. 8 Missouri and No. 9 South Carolina of the SEC out of the BCS picture.
This is the final year of the BCS. Next year, a four-team playoff will determine the national champion, with the four participants picked by a selection committee.
The BCS standings are based on three components - the USA Today coaches poll, the Harris poll and an average of the six BCS computers. Florida State and Auburn were first and second in all three categories.
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