And now, it comes to an end- the BCS’ final game and our last bowl preview.
The final BCS championship game sees Auburn look to run the SEC’s win streak to 8 wins in a row in the game. Standing in their way are the Florida State Seminoles and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston. The BCS swan song should be a dandy, let’s take a deeper look.
Florida State: The Noles dominance through their regular season schedule has led all the talk leading into the NC game to be about off-field issues. The situations have all been resolved, head coach Jimbo Fisher signed an extension ending speculation he was leaving for the vacant University of Texas job, Jameis Winston was not charged with rape as he was accused and finally Winston was an overwhelming winner of the Heisman Trophy.
What should not be forgotten is the dominance the Seminoles displayed between the white lines. They were hardly challenged throughout an admittedly weak ACC schedule. But when the lights shined brightest, at Clemson and at home against Miami, the Noles showed up clicking on all cylinders and made quick waste of their opponents.
Winston isn’t the only superstar. Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is a first round NFL draft pick in waiting, running backs James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman are as solid as they get. Defensively the Noles boast 7-8 “NFL prospects” including all-everything safety Lamarcus Joyner.
Last time out: Squashed Duke in Charlotte 45-7 to win the ACC championship
Auburn: The tigers come into the championship game riding on a tidal wave of good luck. Head coach Gus Malzahn’s “Team of Destiny” saw their good fortunes started on October 19th when they squeaked out a come from way behind win in College Station 45-41 over Texas A&M. Things got really crazy on November 16th when they defeated Georgia on a tipped pass that should have easily been intercepted yet wound up in the hands of wide receiver Ricardo Louis with 25 seconds to play. Two weeks later against Alabama, Chris Davis returned an attempted game winning field goal by the Crimson Tide 100 yards with :01 left on the clock to send the Tigers into the SEC championship game.
The Tiger offense is a spread attack that focuses on the run and is captained by quarterback Nick Marshall. Running back Tre Mason was a Heisman Trophy finalist and runs with purpose. Defensively the Tigers a very non-traditional SEC in that they give up big plays and lots of yards. Facing Winston is going to be difficult for this unit.
Last time out: Beat Missouri in a shoot-out 59-42 in Atlanta to win the SEC championship
The Buckeye Connection:
The Buckeyes are a lifetime 1-0-1 against the Auburn Tigers having lost the last meeting with them in the 1990 Hall of Fame Bowl 31-14. The first match was an epic 0-0 tie in 1917 played in Montgomery, Alabama.
In a bit of a surprise, the Buckeyes have never beaten the Florida State Seminoles, standing currently at 0-3. The most recent clash was the 1998 Sugar Bowl when the Noles ripped John Cooper’s Buckeyes, oddly enough, by a score of 31-14.
The million dollar question: Should they have beaten Michigan State and got into the championship game, could they beat Florida State? Simply, no. Especially not without Bradley Roby (who is missing the Orange Bowl due to injury) and Noah Spence (suspended for some garbage reason) on an already less than stellar defense. Would they beat Auburn? No question, yes. One thing this Buckeye defense actually does well is stop the straight ahead run and the spread run. Braxton Miller and the Buckeye offense would score at will on the Auburn defense.
How I see it: The Noles have the flash and they have the talent across the board to be the best. Auburn will come into the game looking to use it’s strong offensive line to lean on the Seminole defense and eventually break them while keeping Jameis Winston on the sideline, the only place he is guaranteed to not hurt them. Typically I would say that even when Winston does get on the field he’ll have a tough time working through a usually stingy SEC defense. That isn’t the case this year as the Auburn defense can be and usually is abysmal. Auburn can’t outscore Florida State and the Noles defense is good enough to get stops on the Tiger offense. I don’t think it will be Notre Dame v Alabama style blowout, but I see the Noles finishing it off by 10-14 and ending the SEC streak as the BCS era comes to a close.
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