Vizio BCS National Championship, Jan. 6, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Florida St. (13-0, 8-0) — The Seminoles are this season’s most dominant team in college football, cruising through ACC play with 689 total points. Jimbo Fisher’s juggernaut hasn’t faced an ounce adversity since Sept. 28 when Florida Sate trailed late in the second quarter at Boston College. A talent-rich offense and suffocating unit on the other side of the football has the Seminoles thinking national title, their first since 1999.
Related: 5 reasons Auburn beats FSU
THE SKINNY: It’s not Alabama-Oregon. It’s better. This year’s national championship game in Pasadena is a much different matchup from what we expected midway through the season and that’s what great about the BCS and fitting for its final year in existence. Top-ranked Florida State and Auburn, the SEC’s 2012 bottom dweller, each took very different paths to the grand finale. The Seminoles opened eyes across the nation early with an emphatic 51-14 victory at then No. 3 Clemson while the Tigers got hot at the right time, winning nine straight games — five over ranked teams — to end the season. Ohio State’s loss in the Big Ten title game to Michigan State opened the door for Gus Malzahn’s Tigers who ran over Mizzou for the SEC crown. Auburn’s ground game is relentless, the best collection of ballcarriers the Seminoles will have faced this season.
KEY PLAYER: Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston is the main threat standing in the way of the SEC’s eighth consecutive national title and would be the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft is he was eligible this season. Winston hasn’t shown a weakness as a redshirt freshman, throwing for 3,820 yards and 38 touchdowns in the wine and gold. Winston’s capable of shredding an Auburn defense that’s given up a ton of points this season if Florida State can get off the field when the Tigers have the football. If Tre Mason and Nick Marshall get going, this one could set a record for total points in a national championship game.
WHAT TO WATCH: Does Auburn have one last miracle finish? The ‘team of destiny’ line has been used since before the Iron Bowl, a wild ending that somehow topped the previous week’s unimaginable Hail Mary. There was no luck involved in Auburn’s SEC Championship Game win however and it’ll take a similar effort to knock off the favored Seminoles. The 31-day break between games benefits the Seminoles who have game planned with ample time for Auburn’s uptempo zone-read offense. That still may not be enough time to simulate Auburn’s break-neck speed and blocking ability.
FINAL SAY: How can anyone pick against the SEC in national championship games? Auburn’s not the prototypical league champion fueled by a stingy defense but in the age of offense, the Tigers’ running game has yet to be contained. Malzahn’s directed his football team to consecutive wins against Top 5 teams, stiff challenges that prepare players for games like this one on Jan. 6. On the other sideline, Florida State’s bludgeoned nearly every opponent it has played by the halftime break. At some point, the Seminoles will find themselves trailing in this one and how Winston responds will ultimately decide college football’s last champion of the BCS era.
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