BCS National Championship

Florida State’s Jameis Winston tries out some Google glasses during media day for the BCS National Championship game Saturday in Newport Beach, Calif. Florida State plays Auburn tonight.

Chris Carlson | AP

Seminoles dominate with defense

Defense wins championships. And tonight, the Florida State defense will dominate and bring a championship to Tallahassee.

The Seminoles pass defense won’t be all that complicated.

I got this guy, you get that guy. That sort of thing.

The Seminole defenders probably won’t yell across the line at Auburn, “We’re playing man to man on this play.” But they could.

The Seminoles starting corners Lamarcus Joyner and P.J. Williams are each lightning-quick, intelligent, and supremely confident. Get a double-team from a Seminole safety? Joyner and Williams would consider that an insult.

The Seminoles’ backup corners are better than most starters in the nation.

Yes, Florida State will rely on man coverage and allow both its safeties to creep up and help handle Auburn’s strong running attack.

Plenty say if the game is tight, Florida State will tighten. The theory is that since the Seminoles didn’t allow a foe to finish within 14 points of them in any 2013 contest, they won’t finish strong should Auburn keep things close.

FSU dumped Maryland 63-0 on Oct. 12 when the Terps were ranked No. 25. FSU clobbered host Clemson 51-14 on Oct. 19 when the Tigers were ranked third.

On Nov. 2, FSU crushed Miami 41-14 when the Hurricanes were ranked seventh.

Hey, it’s not the Seminoles fault that their high-quality opponents couldn’t keep up with them. And Auburn won’t either.

Allan Mandell

It’s close, but SEC streak ends at seven

It was a reflex … sort of like when I scramble for the mute button when those gosh-awful car commercials featuring the voices of Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musburger come on. (Who thought that was a good idea?)

Anyway, when asked to pick the winner of tonight’s BCS Championship game, I blurted out, “SEC!”

That’s not even a team. It’s a conference. But it’s been the easy choice for nearly a decade. Southeastern Conference teams have won the last seven championships — by an average of 17 points. In the BCS era, only one SEC team has lost in the title game — and that was to another SEC team.

But that amazing run looks like it’s going to end this time.

I’m still not convinced Auburn is even the best team in their conference. The Tigers probably lose to Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and might have lost anyway had Nick Saban not got too cute at the end of the Iron Bowl.

On the other side, even in a vastly weaker ACC, Florida State’s domination has been impressive. And in quarterback Jameis Winston, the Seminoles have a skilled and charismatic leader that won’t allow his team to lose.

That and the Florida State defense will be too much for Auburn to overcome … but just barely. In a game that rivals the 2006 Texas-USC epic, the BCS goes out with a bang and Florida State wins 42-36.

Mark W. Miller

Auburn rides destiny to unlikely title

I’m not betting against Auburn.

Sure, nobody expected the Tigers to be playing for a national championship, and without a pair of miracle plays, including perhaps the greatest victory-clinching play in college football history, they wouldn’t be.

But somehow they are.

Auburn does not have the Heisman Trophy winner, and its laughable defense, which allows 423.5 yards per game, will be expected to slow down Florida State’s feverish offensive onslaught, but Auburn has an improbable amount of momentum propelling it forward.

The Tigers played six ranked teams this season, beating five of them and concluded its Southeastern Conference schedule with three consecutive wins against top-25 teams, including its infamous last-second upset of then-No. 1 Alabama.

Clearly, Auburn’s strength is its run game, averaging 335.7 yards per game to lead the nation behind junior running back Tre Mason (1,621 yards, 22 touchdowns) and dual-threat quarterback Nick Marshall (1,023 yards, 11 touchdowns).The Seminoles, however, have easily stopped their opponents’ ground attack, limiting their opposition to 116.5 rushing yards and just 10.7 points per game.

Florida State’s offense is pretty good too, leading the country in scoring average (53 points) behind the spectacular play of freshman quarterback and 2013 Heisman Trophy recipient Jameis Winston (3,820 passing yards, 38 touchdowns).

On paper, it is difficult to envision the Tigers emerging from Pasadena as the national champions, but Auburn defies logic.

Statistics, records, trends, point spreads and rankings do not affect the Tigers. After all, this is a team that was 3-9 last season and went winless in SEC play.

Everything says Auburn won’t win this game, but, then again, basic rationale indicates the Tigers should not even be in this position, and I just can’t go against a team with destiny seemingly on its side.

Clay Whittington

Florida State just way better than Tigers

The following is not an indictment of the Auburn Tigers.

The SEC champions boast a one-loss record — with their last two wins coming against top-five teams — and the top rushing offense in the country.

Forget that the Tigers’ most impressive win against then-No. 1 Alabama looks decidedly less impressive after the Crimson Tide were outplayed in a Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma.

Forget that against ranked opponents this season, the Tigers allowed an average of 34.3 points per game.

And forget that the Tigers are two plays — miracles one might even say — from not playing in this game.

All of that is pertinent, but none of it matters.

Because Florida State is that good.

The undefeated Seminoles boast the top scoring offense AND defense in the nation, not to mention the best player in the nation in quarterback Jameis Winston, the Heisman trophy winner whom an NFL scout called the top choice in the 2014 draft if he were eligible.

The Seminoles’ closest game this season was a two-touchdown win on the road against Boston College.

Against ranked opponents this season, Florida State won by an average of 41.3 points.

In years past, one might have argued that Auburn still boasted the more impressive resume, having done it against SEC competition.

But games like the Sugar Bowl, or even the Chick-fil-A bowl — in which Duke scored 38 points in two quarters against Texas A&M — aren’t exactly ringing endorsements of that theory.

That was the same A&M team that Auburn beat by four on the road and the same Duke team that Florida State stomped by 38 on a neutral field.

Auburn has been called a team of destiny and is angling for the eight straight BCS title by an SEC team.

But none of that will matter today.

Because Florida State is the better team.

Jordan Mason

Winston will lead the way to FSU triumph

It’s been only eight seasons, but for the fans outside of the Southeastern Conference, it seems like a lifetime ago since a team outside of the SEC held up the crystal football.

Today that changes. Much like Vince Young led the Texas Longhorns to the title in Pasadena in 2006, Jameis Winston will break the streak and lead Florida State to its first national title since we recovered from the Y2K scare.

Winston has the physical talent, right matchup and recent history on his side.

Winston has the tendency to get into the flow of a game if he gets some carries early and actually gets hit a few times. Winston’s athleticism coupled with a group of Tiger linebackers that take poor angles will equal a big game for the Heisman winner.

Auburn is ranked 10th in the conference in rushing defense. Tenth in a 14-team conference.

Auburn plays a ball control game that fits in with the SEC, but its lack of balance will hurt it. The Tigers are ranked 107th in passing yards this year, so if the Seminoles can get a big lead early on, Auburn doesn’t have the firepower to put up points in a hurry.

Winston will also keep the roll that recent Heisman winners have had in this game.

Cam Newton won the trophy in 2010 then threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Oregon. Mark Ingram won it the year before and rushed for 116 yards and two scores against a Colt McCoy-less Texas team. Matt Leinart threw for an Orange Bowl-record five touchdowns in a win over Oklahoma in 2005.

But all good things, or bad, depending on your vantage point, must come to an end.

Albert Alvarado

(1) comment


As if anyone cares, last month my wife and I made predictions on a bunch of bowls. For this game, I said Auburn wins 31-20. My wife called an FSU win at 17-6.

(So far, I'm 3-for-7 in other games and she's 2-for-4; not a stellar record, I know.)

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