Now Malzahn is in his first season as head coach, and junior college transfer quarterback Nick Marshall is directing a seemingly unstoppable running game that gained 545 yards against No. 5 Missouri in Atlanta.
The Tigers (12-1) beat Georgia with the "Prayer at Jordan-Hare" and Alabama with the "Kick Six." On Saturday, maybe that Auburn magic was passed on to Michigan State.
Ohio State (12-1) hadn't lost in 24 games, not since Urban Meyer took over as coach. Despite all the SEC's lobbying, a victory against the 10th-ranked Spartans in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis would have likely been enough to hold off Auburn and send the Buckeyes to the BCS title game for the first time since 2007.
"You know it's going to haunt all of us, I imagine, for a little while," Meyer said.
Ohio State fell behind by 17, rallied back to take a 24-17 lead, then watched Michigan State score the last 17 points to win 34-24.
"Thanks for making the decision easy Michigan State," Auburn linebacker Kris Frost posted on Twitter. "WAR DAMN EAGLE WE GOING TO CALI."
Michigan State, too. The Spartans are going to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1987 season. Ohio State will probably have to settle for the Orange Bowl.
The Big 12 and Pac-12 also settled BCS business Saturday.
No. 7 Stanford (11-2) is going to the Rose Bowl for the second straight year, the first time that's happened since 1970-71, after winning the Pac-12 championship game at No. 11 Arizona State, 38-14.
No. 9 Baylor (11-1) won the Big 12 and locked up an automatic bid to the Fiesta Bowl, with some help from Oklahoma. Before the Bears beat Texas 30-10, the 18th-ranked Sooners upset No. 6 Oklahoma State 33-24 in Stillwater to keep the Cowboys from winning the Big 12.
Championship game: Florida State vs. Auburn.
Rose Bowl: Michigan State vs. Stanford.
Orange Bowl: Ohio State vs. Clemson.
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Oklahoma.
Fiesta Bowl: Baylor vs. UCF.
AP Sports Writers John Zenor in Montgomery, Ala., and AP Sports Writer Mike Marot in Indianapolis contributed.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP