BCS National Championship Preview: #1 Florida State vs. #2 Auburn

AUBvsFSU

2014 VIZIO BCS National Championship Game: #1 Florida State (13-0) vs. #2 Auburn (12-1)

When: January 6th, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. CT (5:30 p.m. PT)

Where: Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California

To say that this final BCS title game match-up is a little surprising would be the biggest understatement of the Bowl Championship Series era.

Florida State, led by redshirt freshman, Heisman-winning QB Jameis Winston, dominated an ACC schedule that never stood a chance, winning every game by at least 14 points. This was after the Seminoles began the year ranked 11th in the AP Poll and predicted to finish second in the ACC Atlantic Division behind Clemson.

Auburn, one year removed from a horrific 3-9 record, began the season picked 5th in the SEC West and didn’t receive a single vote in the preseason polls. However, Gus Malzahn worked pure magic in one offseason, coaching the Tigers to a 12-1 record, an SEC title, the nation’s best rushing attack (335 YPG) and several magical wins over rivals in his first season.

So, the BCS era comes down to this. After this game, the BCS will be gone forever. Auburn vs. Florida State will be the final pre-playoffs national championship game. The BCS era has seen some instant classic national title games (Ohio State vs. Miami, Texas vs. USC, Auburn vs. Oregon) as well as some snoozers (Miami-Nebraska, USC-Oklahoma, Alabama-LSU, Alabama-Notre Dame). Which category will AU vs. FSU join? We’ll find out on January 6th.

Here is a full preview of #1 Florida State vs. #2 Auburn.

Starting Lineups:

Seminoles Offense

Tigers Offense

QB

Jameis Winston

QB

Nick Marshall

RB

Devonta Freeman

RB

Tre Mason

WR

Rashad Greene

HB

Jay Prosch

WR

Kelvin Benjamin

TE

C.J. Uzomah

WR

Kenny Shaw

WR

Sammie Coates

TE

Nick O’Leary

WR

Ricardo Louis

LT

Cameron Erving

LT

Greg Robinson

LG

Josue Matias

LG

Alex Kozan

C

Bryan Stork

C

Reese Dismukes

RG

Tre Jackson

RG

Chad Slade

RT

Bobby Hart

RT

Avery Young

Seminoles Defense

Tigers Defense

DE

Eddie Goldman

DE

Dee Ford

DT

Nile Lawrence-Stample

DT

Nosa Eguae

DT

Timmy Jernigan

DT

Gabe Wright

DE

Mario Edwards

DE

LaDarious Owens

SLB

Christian Jones

MLB

Jake Holland

MLB

Telvin Smith

WLB

Cassanova McKinzy

CB

Lamarcus Joyner

STAR

Robenson Therezie

CB

Ronald Darby

CB

Jonathon Mincy

CB

P.J. Williams

CB

Jermaine Whitehead

FS

Jalen Ramsey

FS

Ryan Smith

SS

Terrence Brooks

SS

Chris Davis

Seminoles Special Teams

Tigers Special Teams

K

Roberto Aguayo

K

Cody Parkey

P

Cason Beatty

P

Steven Clark

KR

Karlos Williams/Lamarcus Joyner/Jesus Wilson

KR

Tre Mason/Quan Bray/Corey Grant

PR

Kenny Shaw

PR

Chris Davis

AU-FSU80s

Team Statistics:

Points Scored Per Game: Florida State 53.0, Auburn 40.2

Points Allowed Per Game: Florida State 10.7, Auburn 24.0

Total Offense: Florida State 529.4, Auburn 505.3

Rush Offense: Florida State 207.4, Auburn 335.7

Pass Offense: Florida State 322.0, Auburn 169.6

Total Defense: Florida State 268.5, Auburn 423.5

Rush Defense: Florida State 116.5, Auburn 163.2

Pass Defense: Florida State 152.0, Auburn 260.2

Turnover Margin: Florida State +18, Auburn 0

First Downs Per Game: Florida State 26, Auburn 24

Jameis

Florida State Seminoles Season Summary:

The Seminoles entered the year ranked 11th in the AP Poll and starting a new QB in redshirt freshman Jameis Winston. Jimbo Fisher, entering his fourth year, had led the Seminoles to 2 ACC title games in his first 3 years but had still underwhelmed, leading to some criticism of Fisher from the Seminole fanbase.

In week one, the Seminoles played on Labor Day night at Pitt in the Panthers’ first-ever ACC game. The ‘Noles fell behind early, 7-0, but eventually Florida State got on track. Winston had a coming-out party in a 41-13 rout over the Panthers.

After huge wins over Nevada and Bethune-Cookman, Florida State went to Boston College and played its worst game, falling behind 17-3 in the second quarter. The Seminoles would then get hot, going on a 45-17 run the rest of the game and holding on to win, 48-34. That would be the closest the Seminoles would come to losing.

Florida State received their first perceived “challenge” of the year that did not turn out to be a challenge at all. Against #25 Maryland, Winston and the Seminoles dominated from start to finish. Florida State beat their ranked foe, 63-0.

The stage was set. One of the biggest ACC games ever was going to take place in Death Valley, South Carolina, in front of a raucous crowd. #5 Florida State at #3 Clemson. This game was expected to be one of the best games of the college football season. Instead, it became the biggest statement. A Mario Edwards Jr. fumble return for a touchdown gave Florida State a 17-0 lead in the first quarter. The Seminoles led 27-7 at halftime and didn’t slow down in the second half, either. Jameis Winston scored four touchdowns and threw for 444 yards as the Seminoles embarrassed the Tigers, 51-14.

NC State wasn’t much of a challenge for Florida State the next week, as the Seminoles jumped out to a 35-0 lead in the first quarter alone and won 49-17. But FSU’s focus had to quickly turn towards the 7th-ranked Miami Hurricanes, who didn’t have a loss on the season yet.

With ESPN’s College GameDay in town for the showdown between #7 Miami and #3 Florida State, Winston showed signs of youth in the first half, throwing two interceptions. Florida State led just 21-14 at the break over the upset-minded ‘Canes. However, in front of a record crowd, Florida State dominated the second half, 20-0. In the end, Florida State outgained Miami 517-275 in a 41-14 win that cemented Florida State’s place as the best in the ACC.

FSU would win its next 3 games against Wake Forest, Syracuse and Idaho by a combined score of 198-20. The Seminoles had extended their record to 11-0 and knew they were only two wins away from Pasadena.

In the rivalry game in Gainesville against the reeling Florida Gators, FSU started sluggishly, leading just 3-0 with five minutes left in the half. However, Jameis Winston wouldn’t be denied, as he threw two touchdowns to Kelvin Benjamin before halftime to extend the lead to 17-0. A Devonta Freeman touchdown run gave the Seminoles a 27-0 lead going into the fourth quarter. Florida scored to avoid a shutout, scoring early in the fourth to cut the lead to 27-7. FSU answered right back, as Winston found Benjamin in the end zone for the third time on the day to extend the lead. Florida State won, 37-7, outgaining Florida 456-193.

The ACC Championship Game pitted the top-ranked ‘Noles against #20 Duke, the 10-2 champions of the ACC Coastal Division. Much like the Florida game, FSU struggled to get in a groove early. Florida State began to find rhythm on offense in the second quarter, as the Seminoles extended the lead to 17-0 at halftime. In the second half, FSU’s offense and defense both played excellently. Florida State eventually led 45-0 in the fourth quarter before Duke scored late to avoid a shutout. The Seminoles did as expected going in: they dominated Duke, won the ACC and made a statement.

Chris Davis

Auburn Tigers Season Summary:

Following a 3-9 (0-8 SEC) season, Auburn fired Gene Chizik and brought back former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn to be the head coach. Not much was expected out of the Tigers, who didn’t have a QB and faced a tough SEC schedule. Every preseason CFB magazine had the Tigers going 6-6 at best. The media picked Auburn 5th in the SEC West behind Alabama, Texas A&M, LSU and Ole Miss. Auburn didn’t receive a single vote in the preseason polls.

Auburn’s knack for winning close games began in week one. Nick Marshall didn’t dazzle in his first start, throwing for just 99 yards against the Washington State Cougars. However, Auburn’s running game clicked, as Corey Grant ran for 146 yards and the team as a whole ran for 295 yards. After a high-scoring first half that Auburn led 25-21, the defenses won the second half. Robenson Therezie ended the game with his second interception of the game and Auburn won 31-24.

After a 38-9 win over Arkansas State, the Tigers looked to end a 10-game SEC losing streak against Mississippi State. Auburn jumped out to an 11-0 lead but Mississippi State went on a 20-3 scoring run, leading 20-14 in the third. An Auburn field goal cut it to 20-17 entering the fourth. Nick Marshall, down 3 with under 2 minutes left, orchestrated a perfect drive that ended with a TD pass to C.J. Uzomah with 10 seconds left. Auburn was held to just 120 rushing yards, but Nick Marshall threw for 334 yards in Auburn’s thrilling 24-20 win.

The Tigers’ lone loss came the next week at LSU. Death Valley on a rainy night was not a good combination for Auburn, as LSU cruised to a 21-0 halftime lead. Auburn had spurts of momentum in the second half, falling short of the Bayou Bengals 35-21. Most Auburn fans felt the game was a strong indicator that the program was still rebuilding, but that would not be the case.

After a bye week, the 3-1 Tigers were a home underdog against #24 Ole Miss, but it was the Tigers that looked like the better team on the field, using a strong rushing game and a Robenson Therezie pick-six to jump out to a 27-9 lead. The Rebels attempted a rally but fell short, 30-22. It was Auburn’s first win over a ranked team since their 2011 win over South Carolina.

After a crushing win over Western Carolina, the #24 Tigers, finally back in the rankings, went on the road to face Johnny Manziel and the #7 Texas A&M Aggies. It was a thrilling shootout, as both teams went back-and-forth throughout the game. A&M led 34-24 early in the fourth quarter before Auburn’s running game began to rev up to “Unstoppable Mode.” The Tigers’ run game burned the Aggies in the fourth quarter, as Nick Marshall and Cameron Artis-Payne ran for TDs, giving Auburn a 38-34 lead. A classic clutch Johnny Football drive put A&M back on top, 41-38, with 5 minutes left. Auburn wouldn’t be denied, as Nick Marshall delivered a beautiful throw to freshman WR Marcus Davis on 3rd and 9, setting up a Tre Mason touchdown run. Manziel tried to lead one more drive, but Dee Ford sack on fourth down ended the game. Mason ran for 178 yards and 2 TDs, Marshall threw for 236 yards, ran for 100 and scored 4 total TDs and the Tigers rolled up 615 yards (379 rushing) in a 45-41 win that put the program back on the map.

An easy win over FAU led to the Tigers facing two road tests against struggling SEC teams Arkansas and Tennessee. Despite being road games, the Tigers dominated both games by a combined score of 90-40.

#7 Auburn hosted #25 Georgia with a lot on the line. Auburn looked dominant in the first three quarters, leading 37-17 going into the fourth. From that point, Auburn became unfocused and Georgia staged an epic comeback, scoring 21 unanswered points to take a 38-37 lead with under two minutes left, stunning the Jordan-Hare crowd. Auburn’s final drive made college football history. On 4th and 18 with under 40 seconds left, Nick Marshall threw a deep Hail Mary to Ricardo Louis. The ball bounced out of a Georgia defender’s hands and landed right in the arms of a running Louis, who strolled untouched into the end zone for a 73-yard touchdown with 25 seconds left. Dee Ford hit Murray as he was trying to throw on the final play, causing it to fall incomplete. Auburn won 43-38 in a game that will forever be called the “Miracle in Jordan-Hare.”

But that wouldn’t be Auburn’s defining moment of the season. That would come in the biggest Iron Bowl of all time. #1 Alabama, a college football dynasty, at #4 Auburn, a team of destiny. The game was being called the biggest of the college football season. The teams went back and forth. Nick Marshall scored on a long run to give Auburn a 7-0 lead after the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Tide went on a 21-0 run to take a 21-7 lead. Auburn answered with a physical touchdown drive led by Tre Mason that cut the lead to 21-14. Auburn scored again after halftime on a pass from Marshall to C.J. Uzomah to tie the game at 21-21. In the fourth quarter, A.J. McCarron threw a 99-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper to give Alabama a 28-21 lead with 9 minutes left. From there, Alabama had several opportunities to put the game away but couldn’t do so, being stopped on 4th-and-1 by Carl Lawson and having a field goal blocked. A deceptive touchdown pass from Nick Marshall to Sammie Coates tied the game at 28. On the final drive, TJ Yeldon stepped out of bounds with one second left, giving the Tide a chance to win on a 57-yard field goal. The kick came up short, and Auburn’s Chris Davis famously ran it back 109 yards to win the game in what many argue to be the best ending in football history. Auburn used 296 rushing yards and the “Kick-Six” to win the “Kick Bama Kick” game, 34-28, as Chris Davis reserved his place in college football lore.

Finally, in an SEC Championship Game with a spot in the BCS Championship on the line, #3 Auburn faced off with #5 Missouri. The game was a high-flying shootout, as the orange Tigers led the gold Tigers 45-42 after three quarters. Auburn dominated the fourth quarter and pulled away to win the SEC title, 59-42. Tre Mason had 46 carries for 304 yards and 4 TDs. As a whole, Auburn ran for 545 yards and gained 677 total yards. Mason, Marshall, Grant and Artis-Payne all had at least one rushing touchdown in the game.

Interesting Facts:

Auburn has an all-time record of 13-4-1 against Florida State. Auburn is 6-2 against Florida State when the Tigers are a Top Ten team…. If Auburn beats Florida State, that will be Auburn’s 2nd national championship in four seasons following a 53-year national title drought….  If Auburn wins, they will be the first team ever to beat 3 consecutive top 5 teams. They would also be the first team ever to defeat two AP No. 1 teams in the same season…. The SEC is 8-0 in BCS Championship Games against non-SEC teams…. This game is the first time either Auburn or Florida State have played at the Rose Bowl….

2010

Prediction:

This is arguably the toughest test Auburn’s faced. This is without a doubt the toughest test Florida State’s faced. FSU will move the ball and score their points against the Auburn defense, but this game will come down to Auburn’s explosive offense against the stingy Seminoles defense. I believe Auburn will find success moving the ball against the Seminoles. In the fourth quarter, in a tied game, Nick Marshall will lead a game-winning touchdown drive, followed by a defensive stop to end the game and clinch the Tigers’ 3rd national championship. The crystal football is coming to Auburn for the second time in four years.

AUBURN TIGERS 41, FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES 34

 

Tags: Auburn Football

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