- David M. Hale, ESPN Staff Writer
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In Tallahassee, Fla., and Durham, N.C., Week 14 was historic.
A month ago, Florida State fans wondered whether Oregon or Alabama would win out and whether the Seminoles would be shut out of a title bid. Turns out, the Ducks and Crimson Tide have combined for three losses since then -- including Alabama's dramatic upset by Auburn on Saturday -- and for the first time since Oct. 1, 2000 (4,810 days), Florida State is ranked No. 1 in the nation. Now Duke is likely all that stands in the way of FSU giving the ACC its first chance at a national championship since that 2000 season. FSU was No. 1 in all three components of the BCS standings and has a .0715 margin over No. 3 Auburn, a sizable gap the Tigers would need to overcome in order to knock the Seminoles out of the title picture.
The Blue Devils will be decided underdogs in the ACC championship game, but it's hard to discount a team that keeps overcoming the odds.
Duke upended North Carolina for the second straight year on Saturday, adding a program-best 10th win to its résumé and securing a trip to the ACC championship game. While Stanford, Baylor and Vanderbilt have already made it trendy for the academic institutions to put together winning football programs, Duke’s story remains uniquely improbable. Ten weeks ago, the Blue Devils were buried near the bottom of the ACC. Now they’re playing for a trip to the Orange Bowl, with a No. 20 ranking in the latest BCS standings.
“I’ve told them all along, if you keep winning, the next one gets even bigger,” coach David Cutcliffe said. “And now this one is the biggest of all.”
The biggest game for Florida State, meanwhile, could still be more than a month away. But while the Seminoles’ date in the BCS championship appears ever more likely, that could clear the way for Clemson to sneak into a BCS bowl, too.
On a weekend that provided cause for celebration for Florida State and Duke, it was another bitter disappointment for Clemson, as the Tigers fell to in-state rival South Carolina for the fifth straight year. Despite the loss, Clemson is No. 13 in the latest BCS standings, leaving the Tigers a strong option for the Orange Bowl as an at-large option, assuming Florida State heads to the title game. That would mark the second time in three years the ACC sent multiple teams to BCS bowls, but it's a narrow margin for the Tigers, which must be ranked 14th or better to qualify for a BCS bowl bid. No. 14 Northern Illinois, No. 16 UCF and No. 17 Oklahoma all have games remaining this weekend.
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