The BCS National Championship is only 14 days away, so the big dance between Auburn and Florida State is quickly approaching.
Auburn owns the biggest turnaround in college football, and they are just four quarters from completing one of the best stories – ever. From 3-9 to 12-1 and SEC Champions, and the only thing lacking is a national championship.
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FSU, on the other hand, has dominated opponents the entire season, and they have looked like college football’s best and most talented team in 2013.
Here are five reasons Auburn beats FSU on January 6th:
1. Destiny: Don’t mess with Destiny’s Darlings. Auburn won four come-from-behind games in the fourth quarter this season, and three of them came in the final minute. In fact, in all three wins, there was a combined 36 seconds remaining on the clock. Nick Marshall threw a TD to TE CJ Uzomah against Mississippi State; Marshall threw the 73-yard tipped TD pass to Ricardo Louis against Georgia, and Chris Davis took back the ‘Kick-Six’ against Bama. How can you beat that? Sometimes it doesn’t matter who the team of destiny plays, and there are times when teams have to catch breaks and take advantage of it in order to win a championship. Credit Auburn for creating its own destiny.
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2. Dominant running game/tempo: Nick Marshall and Tre Mason headline college football’s nastiest running game, and Auburn is the only team in college football to have four 600-yard rushers; Oregon didn’t even accomplish that feat. Mason went for 1,621 yards and 22 TDs, while Marshall went for 1,023 yards and 11 TDs. However, Corey Grant and Cameron Artis-Payne offer different dimensions and styles. Grant is a homerun threat, averaging 10 yards per carry, and he racked up 650 yards and six TDs, while Artis-Payne is more of a bully, rushing for 609 yards and six TDs. Combine all four runners with the quickest up-tempo attack in the country, and it’s very different than practice speed. But we’re leaving out the most significant part of it all – the offensive line, which has been outstanding all season. Auburn has about five base plays they run with about three to four options per play. But they execute those five plays perfectly.
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3. FSU bigger unknown: How good is Florida State? That’s what everyone is asking with two weeks left to the national championship. The Noles played one semi-close game against Boston College during the season; all other games have been complete and dominant blowouts. How will they react to playing a close game on college football’s biggest stage? How will a Heisman-winning freshman react to a close game in the fourth quarter? Well, we just don’t know. What we do know is Auburn is battle-tested and has lots of experience playing in close games. Six of Auburn’s wins have been by eight points or fewer, and that experience of not panicking in a close game will benefit the Tigers. Gus Malzahn has continued to say all season, “If the game is close in the fourth quarter, I like our chances.” I do, too.
4. Big-play Marshall: ‘But they’re one-dimensional.’ That’s why a large majority of the country is picking against Auburn. However, when Nick Marshall has to throw it, he delivers; he has all season. Marshall’s passing numbers (1,759 yards, 60.4%, 12 TDs, 5 INTs) don’t just come out and smack you in the face, and they sure won’t impress FSU’s talented defense. A great example of Marshall’s game came against Alabama, where he threw for less than 100 yards, but he also threw two TDs on two big-time plays and throws. He’s one player who has taken his game to the next level over the course of the season. Marshall looked like a liability against Washington State; he looked like a championship quarterback against Alabama and Missouri. The evolution of Nick Marshall has been fun to watch, and it’s what every coach dreams about.
5. SEC-BCS history: BCS history is on Auburn’s side, and the SEC is gunning for its eighth straight championship to close out the much-maligned system’s era. The only time an SEC team lost the national championship was when they played another SEC team for the championship – 2011’s Alabama-LSU rematch. The SEC has played in nine BCS Championship games, and all nine have come away winners. It’s only fitting that Tennessee beat FSU in the first-ever BCS Championship in the 1998 season and the SEC will be playing the Noles again to close out the BCS era. If history is any indicator, Auburn will beat FSU in Pasadena. Specifically, the state of Alabama will be going for a crazy five straight national championships between Auburn and Alabama. That is incredible.
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