This year’s college football season is about to come to a head on Monday night when No. 1-ranked Florida State takes on No. 2 Auburn in the 2014 BCS National Championship game. In many ways, this is an unlikely match-up, at least not one that most people would have anticipated coming into the season.
The Auburn Tigers made a complete 180-degree turnaround after last season, when the Tigers finished a lowly 3-9 on the season along with a dreadful 0-8 SEC record. However, Gus Malzahn and his brilliant offensive mind took the helm of Auburn as the team’s head coach this year, and it’s been like night and day.
On the other side of the match-up, Florida State is a rather unlikely candidate simply because the Seminoles come out of a traditionally weak ACC. Adding to that, Florida State is led under center by a redshirt freshman quarterback in Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. While there is no doubt that Winston is a raw talent, it’s not common for a relative rookie to come in and elevate his team to this level right away.
Size Vs. Speed
It’s certainly not something new. We see many college football match-ups that pit fast, finesse play against powerful, smash mouth football. This match-up doesn’t appear to be much different.
The Florida State Seminoles have all the signatures of any college football team from Florida, fast-paced, run-and-gun. On the other side, the Auburn Tigers have a potent rushing attack with a steady diet of option style plays. Both sides are capable of putting up points, just in different fashion.
Winston is the epitome of a playmaker, right up there with quarterbacks like Braxton Miller (Ohio State), Tahj Boyd (Clemson) and Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville). While Auburn certainly has what it takes to slow down the Florida State ground game, Jameis Winston is the X-factor, and not really something you can plan for. You just need equally as athletic guys to slow him down.
Defense Wins Championships
We know both teams can, and will, score. So essentially it boils down to which team will step up to the challenge and make some key stops on defense.
Florida State, with their speed and athleticism, is great at shutting down the passing game. They’ve done it all year against pass-heavy teams. The big question is how they will react to the gigantic blockers Auburn has up front. The Seminoles really haven’t encountered a team of this nature during the season, so it’s something new.
With guys like All-SEC defensive end Dee Ford up front, Auburn will be brutal to run against and will provide a frustrating pass rush. This will be a real test for the young quarterback Winston.
Does The SEC Retain The Title?
The SEC is by all accounts a football-centric conference. So many people are handing Auburn this year’s title simply because they come from this highly competitive conference.
You can’t discount Winston and the Seminoles though. Yes, they do hail from a weaker conference, but they bulldozed the competition all season long and scored quality wins against the conference’s only talent, teams like The Miami Hurricanes.
However, the only concerning thing for Florida State is that the Seminoles have not been in a close game this year, so their players have yet to feel that pressure. It’s unlikely they’ll blow Auburn out, so they can expect to have their backs against the wall at some point on Monday.
Who’s your favorite team and what do you think the outcome will be?