No. 1 Florida State Seminoles (13-0 SU, 11-2 ATS) vs. No. 2 Auburn Tigers (12-1 SU, 11-2 ATS)
College Football BCS National Championship Game
Date and Time: Monday January 6th, 2014. 8:30PM Eastern
Where: Rose Bowl Pasadena, C.A.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: FSU -9/AUB +9
Over/Under Total: 66.5
College football's biggest game will take place at its grandest venue on January 6th when the top ranked Florida State Seminoles meet the no. 2 Auburn Tigers inside the Rose Bowl in Pasadena for the BCS National Championship. Florida State, the only undefeated team in college football this season, returns to the National Championship stage for the first time since the Bobby Bowden era as 9 point favorites over the 2nd ranked Auburn Tigers. Not only are the Seminoles favored but they will have the chance to end the SEC's reign of terror and turn out the lights to the BCS era by reclaiming their prominence amongst the greatest programs in college football history.
However a new tyrant has emerged on the plains of Auburn that has brought the read option back to the National Championship stage. Coach Gus Malzahn inherited an Auburn team that finished 3-9 SU in 2012 and transformed the Tigers offense into an unstoppable force just as he did as the offensive coordinator at Auburn during their 2010 National Championship run with quarterback Cam Newton. This year's version of the read option highlights a two headed monster between quarterback Nick Marshall and running back Tre Mason. Mason captured SEC Offensive Player of the Year honors after posting 1,621 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. Marshall was just as dangerous on half the amount of carries rushing for 1,023 yards and 11 scores.
The Fla. St. defense may arguably be the best defense Auburn has faced this season. The Seminoles' defense ranks 2nd yielding just 250 total yards per game and also sports the best scoring defense in the FBS allowing just 10.7 points per game. However this Auburn offense may be a 'horse of a different color' or so they say. Auburn's rushing offense posted lucrative numbers averaging 335 yards per game as the top ranked rushing attack in college football. The Malzahn led offense was able to rack up 296 rushing yards on the ground against Alabama's infamous top rated defense. The Tigers also posted 677 total yards and 545 rushing yards in the SEC Championship while tailback Tre Mason rushed for 305 yards alone. All 3 feats set South Eastern Conference Championship records. Simply put Auburn's offense is playing at a level rarely seen in college football. While the Seminoles may arguably own college football's best defense, I would still suspect Auburn to continue their success running the football.
However, the key for both teams may lie on the other side of the ball. Auburn's biggest weakness has been their defense, most notably surrounding their defensive secondary. The Tigers are 104th against the pass giving up 260 yards per game which plays into the hand of the Florida State offense behind Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston has been superb this season by racking up 38 touchdowns compared to just 10 picks and nearly 4,000 passing yards. Winston has been the piece of the puzzle that has elevated the Seminoles back to the National Championship stage.
Coach Jimbo Fisher has long already established a dominant rushing attack over the past few seasons and 2013 group has not been any different. Tailbacks Devonta Freeman and Karlos Williams have combined for 24 touchdowns along with more than 1,600 rushing yards. Throw in James Wilder Jr to the mix, and then you can add another 542 yards with 8 touchdowns as well. As a group the Seminoles have averaged 207 yards per game (28th in FBS) on the ground. When you have that type of running capability mixed with the talent of Winston, it is easy to see why Florida State has been unbeatable. The key for the Seminoles to stay unbeaten will be taking advantage of the holes in the Auburn secondary. The Tigers struggles against the pass have been apparent in nearly every game this season. For the Seminoles to take advantage, Winston must be accurate with his throws down the field. If Winston does not capitalize, the Seminoles return to the National Championship stage may be overshadowed by the SEC's 8th straight National Championship.
Jay's Pick to Cover the BCS Championship Point Spread: It's hard to ignore Florida State's dominance this season. I mean, the Seminoles average margin of victory has been a blistering 42.3 points this season which is the most in the BCS era. However, I do believe Auburn presents an entirely different type of challenge and is going into this game playing their best football of the season. It's not just Tre Mason and Nick Marshall that are playing well but also the entire Auburn offensive front. I believe this will be a nail biter and the points are a gift. Can you really spot the battle tested team from the SEC 9 points in this position? I do not think so, Take Auburn +9!
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