- Ivan Maisel, ESPN Senior Writer
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1. The rise of Auburn to the VIZIO BCS National Championship game has focused on the improbability of the Tigers’ last-play victories against Georgia and Alabama. But let’s not forget that Auburn went 3-9 last season, including 0-8 in the SEC. In fact, only one other team in the 16 years of the BCS rebounded from a worse record. Illinois went 2-10 in 2006 and played in the Rose Bowl the following season. But the Illini did win a Big Ten game in ’06, and they didn’t win the Big Ten in ’07. Ohio State won it and played for the crystal football.
2. Oklahoma lost to Texas by 16 points and to Baylor by 29, at which point the Sooners got written off. Oklahoma had played in only one BCS bowl in the past four seasons, it had a 7-2 record after losing to the Bears, and gee, hadn’t Bob Stoops slipped a bit? The Sooners then won three straight, scored two touchdowns in the final :19 to upset No. 6 Oklahoma State, 33-24 and appear headed for the Allstate Sugar Bowl. That’s Stoops’ ninth BCS game, a record that will forever be his, and in his 15 seasons, the Sooners have had 12 10-win seasons. The Sooners aren’t back. They never left.
3. A year ago, Tyler Gaffney, minor-league outfielder, sat in the stands on Jan. 1 and watched his former Stanford teammates win the Rose Bowl. Gaffney decided to return to the Farm to play football, in part because he wanted to win a Rose Bowl, too. How often does such a dream become reality? It’s hard enough for the players who won to repeat. Gaffney made sure it happened. He won the Pac-12 championship game MVP with 133 yards and three scores in the Cards’ 38-14 rout of Arizona State. Gaffney finished the season with 1,618 yards and 20 touchdowns -- and an invitation to play in Pasadena.
20hJake Trotter and Brandon Chatmon