Finally, it’s here. We’re going to crown a new national champion tomorrow night. How fitting that the BCS Championship ends with Florida State playing the SEC Champions, just like when the era was ushered in back in 1998 between Tennessee and FSU.
Vegas largely has FSU a 9-point favorite as it stands one day from game time.
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Let’s get it…
This is why college football is great. This game is impossible to predict! Since the BCS games are proving how difficult predictions are, I’ll simply explain my thoughts and then end with a score prediction.
First, I tend to go with the battle-tested team in this situation. That of course is Auburn. Florida State’s schedule is a joke, and their closest game was Boston College in which they won by 14 points. Auburn on the other hand has had to grind it out against SEC teams. Auburn finished with wins against Georgia, Alabama and Missouri. Those are impressive wins late against good defenses (not so much Georgia). Florida State ended with a corpse of a team in Florida and Duke. Not the same.
I’ve been comparing this game to Ohio State and Florida following the 2006 season. Ohio State dominated an easy schedule with the Heisman Winner in Troy Smith leading their team. They were heavy favorites against Florida who backed in (similar to Auburn). Florida crushed Ohio State.
Do I think Auburn crushes Florida State? Definitely not, because Florida State will score on Auburn. Their offense is elite and Auburn’s defense, well, isn’t elite. But the fascinating thing to watch will be Florida State’s defense against the tempo and against that power run game. With a month off, facing an up tempo attack like Auburn is hard. FSU players will be gassed early especially if Auburn can keep that FSU defense on the field.
With that said, Florida State has way more elite athletes than a team like Ohio State in 2006. Florida State recruits like SEC teams. They’re physical, fast, and deep. Make no mistake about it, Florida State is an elite football team.
I don’t think Auburn’s run game can be stopped. But if Florida State manages to contain it, they could blow Auburn out. Auburn needs to get the FSU defense on their heels and hope they can outscore Florida State – similar to what they did against Missouri in Atlanta. This will be harder against FSU than it was against Missouri.
Florida State’s passing game will likely thrive, but if Auburn can get SOME pressure on Winston, it could be enough. He’s young and hasn’t been roughed up much.
At the end of the day, I lean toward Auburn for the reasons cited above. Battle tested, simple offense which should still be super effective even with timing off after a month off, they beat the best teams they played, and I like Gus Malzahn to add a wrinkle that FSU hasn’t seen before.
48-41. War Eagle.
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The national championship features the most dominant team in the country in FSU against the hottest team in the country in Auburn.
I’ve been mulling this game over for the last several weeks and trying to decide how this game will go. I’ve truly been torn over which team should win and which team will actually win.
Now, as we sit here and look at the BCS landscape, every single underdog has won a BCS game. UCF beat Baylor; Oklahoma beat Alabama; Clemson beat Ohio State; Michigan State beat Stanford. That’s unprecedented. And, of course, Auburn enters as the 8-point underdog against FSU, who has looked utterly dominant in ACC play. That bodes well for the Tigers.
FSU truly thinks they are the best team in the BCS era, and they are so talented at every single position. There’s an outside chance that all 22 starters get drafted. Has that ever happened before? From the offensive and defensive skill positions to the line of scrimmage, FSU has been built like an SEC team, talented and physical at every position.
Auburn, on the other hand, is talented, too, but because of the tougher schedule, they haven’t been perceived as dominant. The Tigers have progressively gotten better throughout the season, and QB Nick Marshall exemplifies that. Several call Auburn a ‘lucky’ team, but truly every championship team catches breaks, and it’s about how teams capitalize on those breaks that makes them ‘lucky’ or not. See, college football is all about timing, and the Tigers have had the right timing this season, and they’ve made the most of their timing. I’ve compared Auburn to Oregon, but they’re much more physical on the line of scrimmage. And there’s no difference between Oregon tempo and Auburn tempo.
My biggest questions actually revolve around FSU, not Auburn. How will FSU react to playing a close game in the fourth quarter? Namely, how does Jameis Winston react to a close game? The stage isn’t too big for him, but it’s the pressure at the end of a game I want to see him handle.
Here’s how I perceive this game going: Auburn comes out hot and goes up by two touchdowns early, but FSU’s defense will get a grasp for the offense throughout the game and will sell out to stop the run. The Noles’ offense will score many points on Auburn’s defense unless the pass rush puts Jameis Winston on the ground. He’s been great with pressure in his face all season, and he’ll pick apart the secondary like he’s done to any other team this season if the pass rush isn’t physical with him. As long as Auburn doesn’t turn the ball over, the offense is so multi-dimensional that it won’t be shut down. And if Auburn keeps it within a touchdown margin in the fourth quarter, their chances increase tremendously.
That being said, I do think FSU wins the game. I hope Auburn brings home the SEC’s eighth straight championship; I truly do. But I just don’t see that happening Monday night.
Prediction: FSU 44, Auburn 38
Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports