College football once again gave us another fall full of pandemonium, unreal finishes and budding superstars. A wild Bowl season comes down to a game that can certainly deliver one the likes of which we haven’t seen since Juggernaut USC was taken out by a Vince Young and Jamal Charles Texas squad in the greatest National Championship game, Sorry Miami and Ohio State.
This game also marks the end of an era many are glad to see coming to an end. The Bowl Championship Series is a success wrapped in a bundle of failure. Since its creation in 1998 it brought College Football to the national stage. It gave the lesser known schools a chance to play against the big boys in Bama, Miami and Ohio State. Its 16 years of life contained some of the greatest teams and greatest games ever played. Who can forget Boise State upsetting Oklahoma on half-back passes, hook-n-laterals and statues of liberty? How about the USC teams in the mid-2000’s with Matt Lienart and Reggie Bush who both won Heisman’s (sorta technically) or the complete dominance of Alabama the past five or so years? And of course we cannot forget the four years in which Tim Tebow became must see television with his artistically spoken press conferences backed up with some of the best College Football played ever.
Yet its controversial computer formula that determined who would play for the National Championship will overshadow much of the BCS’s success. Undefeated teams that came from lesser known conferences would be snubbed from any BCS consideration even though they thought they could hang tough with the power conferences. Teams like Boise State and TCU proved that this was possible, that on any given Saturday, a team can beat another. And that is why we will have a 4 team playoff next year, for better or for worse, we will see. RIP BCS.
Now onto the finale of it all. Florida State and Auburn. Two completely different ways of getting to the National Championship game. Florida State took the country by storm with Heisman winner Jameis Winston, steam rolling through teams like nobody’s business. Going into Death Valley and obliterating a Clemson team that just won the Orange Bowl was when people started taking note, they were not to be messed with. And then there is Auburn. Who just a year ago, went 0-9 in the SEC and were without a head coach. Then came along then Arkansas State coach Gus Malzahn to rebuild a program who won the whole thing just a few years ago. After a miracle catch and perfectly executed missed field goal run back, Auburn has all the mojo a team can have coming into the Championship. Favored by 13 according to ESPN is Florida State, here is how GoatSports sees this game going down.
Florida State has the superstar Freshman Heisman winner. That alone is quite the title. He wants National Champion added to that more than anything. He’s charismatic, a legend to those he has crossed, a leader and most of all, a winner. He controls an offense that averages 53 points a game, best in the nation. They have scored more than 40 points 12 out of 13 games played this season scoring 60 twice, 50 four times and even dropped 80 on poor Idaho. This offense is up for discussion as one of the best ever. Winston has weapons across the board at wide receiver in Rashad Greene, Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw. All three of which have over 900 yards of receiving and combined 29 touchdowns. Wow.
Auburn has a valuable weapon of their own that can keep this high powered Florida State offense off the field, a running game. And not just a running game, but the best in the nation at 335 yards a game thanks to dual threat QB Nick Marshall and Heisman nominee Tre Mason. A balanced attack has been the key to most of Auburn’s wins with play action playing a huge role for this offense. They might not be historic, but they run the ball with as much efficiency as the Glenbard West High School Football team. Look for Nick Marshall as a key on broken down plays, making them with both his feet and arm in clutch moments.
Edge: Florida State
For as good as FSU’s offense is, their defense is Stonewall Jackson and then some. Allowing just 10 points a game, this group is fast, physical and ball hawking. Only letting up over 20 points once this season, it could very well come down to this unit if the game is close, a unit that hasn’t played in a close game really all year. And while statistics never lie, FSU has yet to face an offense with as good of a running game as Auburn, yet the Seminoles D is no joke.
Auburn’s statistics aren’t as impressive as FSU yet again, but the level of opponents offense’s suggest that this SEC defense is exactly what it is, a SEC defense. Fast and physical as well, the Tigers defense lives by the bend but don’t break formula, creating turnovers at opportune times, and creating points out of it. Their past three games were against Mizzou, Bama and Georgia, all of which have nationally ranked offenses and the Tigers D did enough to win. Defense in College football has changed dramatically, there are very few defenses that are as dominant and over powering as they once were, thanks to the spread. Today is all about keeping your opponents out of the end zone and creating turnovers, Winston is bound to over shoot one of his targets.
It is difficult to compare special teams on paper. Yet both teams have shown that a blocked kick, return for a touchdown or fake punt can swiftly change the momentum and overall outcome of a game. Auburn Kicker Cody Parkey is 14 of 19 on field goal attempts this year, but is 5/6 from the 40-49, which will be a key position for Auburn going up against a stout FSU defense. If he can bang a few through, it could give them the W. On the other hand Roberto Aguayo of Florida State is 19 of 20 and 7/8 from the same range as Parkey. In a close game, these two will be the ones to watch. Let’s not forget of course that Auburn has a miracle return from safety Chris Davis under their belt on the biggest stage.
Edge: Both teams will be solid in this category, draw.
Florida State has one helluva of a X-Factor in Jameis Winston. He has been the best QB in the nation all season hands down, leading his team into hostile environments yet staying cool as the other side of the pillow and delivering magical performances. If he does it one more time, he will be crowned king in Pasadena, on his Birthday. Yes he turns 20 tomorrow, which bodes another question, will the pressure and moment get to him? Absolutely not, you don’t get the nickname Famous Jameis for no reason. But unless he is a robot (a real possibility) the kid is going to have some nerves and as I stated before, an early interception wouldn’t surprise me, but what could make the difference is that 3rd & 8 on Auburn’s 42 yard line with the game on the line. If he really is the Heisman, then he will make that play when it matters most.
I’ve learned that Football is a game of momentum. If you have it and the talent to go along with it, you will win the game 100% of
the time. It is a powerful energy source that can turn Cinderella upsets into realities. Some are wondering if Auburn can at least make this a game and to that I scoff. When an entire team believes in destiny as it seems the Auburn Tigers do as a whole, they have every bit of a chance here. Winning on last second plays like the “pray at Jordan-Hare” and the return that shook the state of Alabama, to go along with playing in and winning close and crucial games all year, in which your players like QB Nick Marshall (right) have performed fantastic in, you have every bit of a chance at hoisting that crystal ball as the favorites.
Edge: Momentum is a powerful thing, just ask my Physics teacher. Auburn.
I really was looking forward to a year in which the SEC didn’t win another freakin’ Championship, oh well.
War Eagle 34 Florida State 30
Stats courtesy of ESPN