BCS National Championship – Monday, Jan. 6 at 8:30 PM ET/5:30 PM PT on ESPN (Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit, Heather Cox, Tom Rinaldi)
Last time out: Florida State defeated No. 20 Duke 45-7 in the ACC Championship Game on December 7th in Charlotte, NC. Auburn defeated No. 5 Missouri 59-42 on December 7th in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, GA.
Current Winning Streaks: Florida State – 15 games. Auburn – 9 games.
Consecutive Bowl Appearances: Florida State – 32. Auburn – 1
Number of National Championships in school history: Florida State – 2. Auburn – 1.
School Record in BCS Bowl games: Florida State – 2-5. Auburn – 2-0
Series History: Auburn leads all-time series 13-4-1.
Last Meeting: Auburn defeated Florida State 20-17 on October 20, 1990.
What you need to know: This is the final incarnation of the BCS National Championship game, and it pits arguably the hottest team in college football against an undefeated team who won by an average margin of 42.3 points. Let’s break things down a bit further
Team Overview – Florida State
Unlike our other capsules, there is no “FSU started strong, tailed off, and then finished strong again.” Florida State did not lose this season and led FBS in both most points scored per game (53.0) and fewest points allowed per game (10.7). Four of the Seminoles’ victories came against teams that were ranked in the Top 25 at the time; Oct. 5 vs No. 25 Maryland (63-0), Oct. 19 at No. 3 Clemson (51-14), Nov. 2 vs No. 7 Miami (41-14) and Dec. 7 vs No. 20 Duke in the ACC Championship Game (45-7).
Team Overview – Auburn
Let’s start things off by reminding you that zero people picked Auburn to win the SEC…and they did. They weren’t even picked to finish in the Top 4 of the SEC Western Division…and they won it. Auburn won the first three game of their season against relatively meager competition (Washington State, Arkansas State, Mississippi State) before falling 35-21 at then No. 6 LSU. It’s been smooth sailing so to speak ever since for the Tigers, winning their final nine games including five against Top 25 teams and three against Top 10 teams. They wouldn’t be here though of course if it weren’t for the miracle at Jordan-Hare – a 73 yard touchdown pass that was deflected and then caught by Ricardo Louis – and the glorious 100 yard field goal returned for a touchdown by Chris Davis in the Iron Bowl against then undefeated Alabama. Auburn finished 9th in FBS in most points per game with 40.2 and 38th in FBS in fewest points allowed per game with 24.0.
We’ll start with Auburn – who ranked 107th in FBS with 169.6 passing yards per game – and the Tigers’ Nick Marshall, a 6’1″ 210 lbs. junior from Pineview, GA. Marshall is a dual-threat who completed 60.4% of his passes for 1,759 yards, 12 TDs and five interceptions. Auburn’s most significant receiver is easily #18, Sammy Coates. Coates – a 6’2″ 201 lbs. sophomore from Leroy, AL – finished with 38 catches for 841 yards and seven touchdowns.
It’s a different story for Florida State as the Seminoles rank 14th in FBS & 2nd in the ACC in passing yards per game with 322.0 from a passing offense led by Heisman Trophy Winner Jameis Winston. Winston – who had been investigated for sexual assault in Tallahassee with no charges resulting – is a 6’4″ 221 lbs. redshirt freshman from Bessemer, AL, not too far from Tuscaloosa. His non-Heisman awards include the Walter Camp Award, the Davey O’Brien Award, AP Player of the Year, consensus AP All-American, First Team All-ACC and ACC Player of the Year. His numbers this year have been staggering, especially for a first year player.
- Winston’s 67.9 completion percentage ranks 9th in FBS and 2nd in ACC
- Winston’s 3,820 passing yards rank 12th in FBS and 2nd in ACC
- Winston’s 38 passing touchdowns rank 3rd in FBS and lead the ACC
Winston has four receivers we will spotlight
- #1 Kelvin Benjamin, a 6’5″ 234 lbs. sophomore from Belle Glade, FL who finished with 50 catches for 957 receiving yards (9th in ACC) and 14 touchdown receptions (5th in FBS, 1st in ACC).
- #35 TE Nick O’Leary, a 6’3″ 248 lbs. junior from Palm Beach, FL who finished with 33 catches for 557 yards and seven touchdowns (6th in ACC).
- #80 Rashad Greene, a 6’1″ 180 lbs. junior from Albany, GA who finished with 67 catches for 981 yards (6th in ACC) and nine touchdowns (4th in ACC). Greene was named to the All-ACC First Team.
- #81 Kenny Shaw, a 6’0″ 170 lbs senior from Orlando, FL who finished with 52 catches for 929 yards (9th in ACC) and six touchdowns.
We’ll begin this time with the Seminoles whose 207.4 rushing yards per game rank 23rd in FBS and 3rd in the ACC. FSU may use as many as three rushers, but there are two running backs, both juniors, in particular to focus on. #8 Devonta Freeman is a 5’9″ 203 lbs. power back from Miami, FL who ran for 943 yards (4th in ACC) and 13 touchdowns (3rd in ACC). #9 Karlos Williams is a 6’1″ 223 lbs. from Davenport, Fl who ran for 705 yards and 11 touchdowns (7th in ACC).
The Auburn Tigers pride themselves on their ability to run the football and their 335.7 yards per game on the ground are best in FBS. Auburn has FOUR players all with at least 600 rushing yards and six touchdowns, which is to say they counter FSU’s four talented receivers with four talented rushers.
- QB #14 Nick Marshall who ran for 1,023 yards and 11 touchdowns, both 8th in the SEC
- #21 Tre Mason, a 5’10” 205 lbs junior from Palm Beach, FL who ran for 1,621 yards (9th in FBS, led SEC) and 22 rushing touchdowns (4th in FBS, led SEC). Mason, a Heisman Trophy Award Finalist, was named to the All-SEC first team as well as the AP All-American Second Team and is coming off an SEC Championship game in which he carried the ball 46 times for 304 yards and four touchdowns, all three of which were SEC Championship game records.
- #20 Corey Grant, a 5’11” 205 lbs junior from Opelika, AL who finished with 650 yards and six touchdowns.
- #44 Cameron Artis-Payne, a 5’11” 210 lbs. junior from Harrisburg, PA who finished with 609 rushing yards and six touchdowns
Other Offensive Observations
- One of Auburn’s leaders on their offensive line is #50 Reese Dismukes, a 6’3″ 297 lbs. junior center from Spanish Fort, AL who was named to the All-SEC First Team.
- Florida State has their own talented center, a 6’4″ 300 lbs. senior from Vero Beach, FL named Bryan Stork who was named an AP First Team All-American and won the Rimington Trophy.
- Two other Seminoles, both juniors, were named to the ACC First Team; Cameron Erving, who was also named to the AP All-American Second Team, and Tre’ Jackson.
- Auburn’s 6’2″ 240 lbs. senior #30 Dee Ford finished the season with 8.5 sacks and was named to the All-SEC First Team.
- The Tigers rank 62nd in FBS with 163.2 rushing yards allowed per game and 102nd in FBS with 260.2 passing yards allowed per game.
- Florida State’s pass defense led FBS with the fewest yard allowed per game this season (152.0) while allowing only 116.5 rushing yards per game (13th in FBS, 3rd in ACC).
- Among the stars for FSU’s defense is #20 Lamarcus Joyner, a 5’8″ 190 lbs. senior cornerback out of Fort Lauderdale, FL who finished with five sacks and two interceptions this season. Joyner was selected to the AP All-American First Team and was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, given out each year to the nation’s top defensive back.
- Also featuring for the FSU defense is #8 Timmy Jernigan, a 6’2″ 292 lbs. defensive tackle out of Lake City, FL. Jernigan finished the year with 4.5 sacks and was named to the AP All-American Second Team.
Not Your Typical College Kicker
Florida State boasts the Lou Groza Award winner (given out each year to the best place kicker in FBS) and his name is Roberto Aguayo. Aguayo, a 6’1″ 203 lbs. redshirt freshman from Mascotte, FL, was also named to the AP All-America First Team.
On the Auburn sideline is Gus Malzahn, a 48-year old from Irving, TX who played his college ball at Arkansas before transferring to Henderson State. Malzahn was the offensive coordinator at Auburn in 2010 when they won the national championship and had Cam Newton at quarterback, earning the Broyles Award as the nation’s best assistant coach. After serving as the OC at Auburn for three seasons, Malzahn took over as the head coach at Arkansas State last season. Malzahn led the Red Wolves to a 9-3 record and the Sun Belt championship followed by a win in the GoDaddy.Com Bowl. This season, he’s back at Auburn and has them in the national championship game after being named SEC Coach of the Year, AP Coach of the Year, Home Depot Coach of the Year and Sporting News Coach of the Year. Malzahn enters with a career head coaching record of 21-4, 11-1 at Auburn.
For Florida State it’s Jimbo Fisher at the helm, a 48-year old man from Clarksburg, WV who was named NCAA Division III Player of the Year in his senior season at Samford University in 1987. Fisher served as the offensive coordinator and QB coach at Auburn from 1993-98 before serving the same role at LSU from 2000-06. Fisher has been at Florida State since 2007, serving as OC/QB Coach under Bobby Bowden from 2007-09 before taking over as head coach in 2010. Fisher has a record of 44-10 in his four years at the helm of Florida State, winning all three bowl games he’s coached (2010 – Chick-Fil-A, 2011 – Champs Sports, 2012 – Orange).
Dylan’s pick: Florida State has been very good this season, and Jameis Winston has been fantastic. However, Auburn has played a more difficult schedule and has proven their last few games that they have one all important factor: luck. I don’t think Florida State has faced a task as tall as Auburn yet this season, and Gus Malzahn knows what it takes to win a national championship. I’m taking Auburn, 27-20