Pasadena, California—The Auburn Tigers and the Florida State Seminoles will meet in the Rose Bowl to decide who will claim the final Bowl Championship Series national championship trophy.
Auburn labeled by many, as the team of destiny will be looking to knock off the most dominating team in college football this season in Florida State.
The Seminoles enter this game having dominated every opponent it has faced. Their closest margin of victory was 14 points against Boston College, the next closest margin of victory was 27 points against Miami. They rank first nationally in scoring defense allowing just 10.7 points a game and second nationally in scoring offense averaging 53 points a game.
On the other hand, the Tigers have had to find ways to win late in games. Auburn has won many of its games on the last drive or play. The Tigers have won 4 games in the final 1:20 of play. Auburn has played it best football during the final stretch of the season dominating teams by running the ball.
The key matchup to look for will be Florida State’s defense against Auburn’s running game. Auburn leads the country in rushing with 4364 yards and in rushing yards per game with 335.7. Auburn has dominated its last three opponents who have also been some of the nations best at stopping the run. The dynamic duo of Nick Marshall and Heisman finalist Tre Mason have shredded opponents on the ground with their flawless execution of the read option.
Florida State has one of the nations best run stopping defenses only allowing 117 yards per game and have only allowed 5 rushing touchdowns all season. FSU defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan is one of the best in the nation with 10.5 tackles for a loss this season. His push up front will be a key in stopping the Auburn rushing attack.
Another match up to keep an eye on is Auburn’s secondary against the ‘Noles passing game. Auburn’s starting cornerbacks, Chris Davis and Jonathon Mincy are 5’11 and 5’10 respectively, while Florida States receivers range from 6’5 to 6’0. Auburn has played much bigger receivers all through out the season and should be comfortable guarding bigger players but they have not faced a quarterback at the level of the Heisman winner Jameis Winston. Winston is the most complete quarterback the Tigers have faced all season and tends to stay in the pocket more than most quarterbacks at the college level. Auburn’s secondary must stay with receivers for the entire play and never stop pursing the receivers. This matchup will go a long way in deciding who wins this game.
The X-Factor for this game will be Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall. Marshall has only been on Auburn’s campus since August, missing spring practice where he would have gained valuable experience running the offense. Instead Marshall was forced to learn on the fly during games. As the year progressed Marshall became more confidant in controlling the offense and making the right decision on the deadly read option play Coach Gus Malzahn employs in his hurry up no huddle offense. These extra four weeks of practice will only help Marshall. The development of his passing game in the last four weeks could prove to be a pivotal game changer.
This game promises to be one of the best matchups in the BCS era. Be expecting a high scoring game with lots of offense.
Prediction: Auburn 45- FSU 38