BCS National Championship Preview: Florida State vs. Auburn
Florida State (13-0, 8-0 ACC) vs. Auburn Tigers (12-1, 7-1 SEC)
January 6, 8:20 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Florida State Players to Watch:
Jameis Winston, QB—Your 2013 Heisman Trophy winner by a landslide, Winston is by far the best quarterback we’ve seen this year and Florida State wouldn’t be where it is today without him. Everything starts and ends with Winston, and his performance will determine the outcome of the title game.
Christian Jones, DE—Jones isn’t the only Seminole lineman with a huge job, but he plays a major role in stopping Auburn’s read-option. If he and the rest of the front seven can slow down Nick Marshall and Tre Mason, it’ll all but guarantee a win.
Auburn Players to Watch:
Nick Marshall, QB—Transferring from Georgia and making the transition from cornerback to quarterback was the best decision Marshall ever made. He’s only thrown one interception in his last eight games and has rushed for 503 and six scores over his last four.
Tre Mason, RB—Mason was the bread-and-butter of this ridiculous Auburn rushing attack, making his late Heisman candidacy push by compiling 868 yards and 13 touchdowns over the Tigers’ last five games.
Florida State Key to Victory:
Let Winston do his thing. Auburn’s secondary has had a difficult time stopping anyone from throwing the ball, with the offense bailing it out nearly every time. The Tigers rank 102nd in pass defense and 63rd in opponent quarterback efficiency, and there really hasn’t been a time all season where a unit actually made Winston uncomfortable. Winston completed 72.3 percent of his passes for an average of 350.7 yards and had a 3.7-to-1 interception-to-touchdown ratio against bowl teams this year and it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Florida State loses if he does that to Auburn.
Auburn Key to Victory:
Wear down Florida State’s defensive line. This is what it all comes down to for Auburn if it wants to take its Cinderella-like season one step further. The Tigers have averaged 402 yards on the ground over their last four games, and it’s all because of its stout offensive line—one of the best fronts in the nation. Florida State’s defensive line has been a work in progress, but has developed nicely and has loads of talent. Still, the Tigers won’t be afraid to attack the ends like they have from start to finish—and why would they?
Line: Florida State (-8.5)
Prediction: From the miracle at Jordan Hare to the famous kick return touchdown in the Iron Bowl, it’s been an incredible ride for Auburn. So why should it stop here? The Tigers are on a nine-game winning streak, having beaten five Top-25 opponents, including three inside the Top-10 and the No. 1 team in the nation. Florida State outscored opponents by the biggest margin of victory since the 1944 Army squad, but hasn’t seen anything like the option-attack that is headed its way. I’ll side with Gus Malhzan’s ability to prepare for big-time games, and I don’t think the final BCS National Championship Game will disappoint.
Auburn 34, Florida State 33
Follow @Tyler_Waddell on Twitter