As we alluded to in our BCS Preview piece, there’s a difference of opinion when it comes to who can win this game. So, without a lot more bluster, here’s it is…
Neil Roberts – Florida State Wins Because:
1) Florida State will shred Auburn’s secondary
The Auburn secondary has been suspect for the majority of the season, and has been bailed out by several fluky plays on both sides of the ball. For crying out loud, these guys allowed early season Connor Halliday (Washington St. QB) to throw for 365 yards and three touchdowns — they had three interceptions that were thanks to Halliday’s early season struggles. Despite the struggles of this defense, the Tigers are back in the National Title game for the second time in four years…because of course they are.
2) The Consistent Thing About Auburn is Inconsistent Quarterback Play
The biggest factor in Auburn reaching the National Title game was the improved play of Nick Marshall, the Tiger QB; that being said, he has improved from “can’t hit the broadside of a barn” to “wouldn’t be able to hit the broadside of a tool shed”. He has also been bailed out by defensive backs that apparently buttered their hands prior to the game. Fortunately for Marshall, Auburn has one of the best running backs in the country in Tre Mason. But again the Washington St. game proved that if you can somewhat contain Mason and force Marshall to pass…then Auburn is for a long day.
J-Dub – Auburn Wins Because:
1) Florida State is a Fraud
Far too often, this game turns out like Super Bowls in the 1980’s; by the second quarter, we find out there’s one team who just doesn’t belong here. In this case, there’s way to great a chance we are going to discover that about the Seminoles. Sure, it pretty clear there is some talent on this team, but for all the media knob-slobbing this team has received, nobody seems to want to remember that everything the Seminoles have done has been against sub-par talent.
Let’s face it, the ACC sucks. Sure the Seminoles blew out Clemson, who spent all season being horribly over-rated because when they beat Georgia, nobody knew the Bulldogs were bullshit yet. Florida State’s next best win is arguably over Duke (insert obligatory basketball joke here), who played the role of “smartest kid on the little bus” in the Coastal Division of the ACC. Florida State gets wins like Jameis Winston ALLEGEDLY gets dates; schedule a lot of easy ones, and always have a roofie handy.
2) Auburn Doesn’t Quit
Sure, you can say Auburn got “lucky” on a couple of plays, but the fact is that luck is a by-product of being in the right place int he right time. Of course, the flip-side of this for Florida State is that since we’ve never seen them do anything other than run up the score against creamy-soft opposition, they have all the looks of a team that will cave and quit the minute they are behind by two scores.
3) Numbers Don’t Lie
One thing Florida State can do is play defense against the run. On the season, including the ACC Championship Game, they gave up only 1551 yards on 398 carries, which translates to 3.90 yards per carry allowed. Here’s the fun part; Auburn might be the best blocking team in the nation. They don’t open holes; they opens hallways. You just don’t see missed assignments or unaccounted for defenders running around and disrupting things against the Tigers. You’ll see plenty of plays tonight where you think the defense did a pretty good job, and Auburn will still gain five yards.
If you doubt that, consider the Tigers’ last three opponents. Ignoring the Auburn game, Georgia allowed 4.15 yards per carry, which is only marginally better than Florida State. . Auburn ran for 334 yards on 55 carries, which bears out to 6.07 yards per carry. Ignoring the Auburn game, Alabama allowed just 3.52 yards per carry on the season. That’s noticeably better than Florida State. Yet against the Tide, the Tigers ran for 321 yards on 49 carries for 6.55 yards per carry. Missouri allowed only 4.58 yards per carry prior to the SEC Championship Game, and Auburn gashed them for 551 yards on 73 carries for 7.55 yards per carry.
Look at it this way. Had rushing yards allowed been distributed evenly across all games, Auburn should have accounted for 9% of Georgia’s and Alabama’s rushing yards and 8.3% of Missouri’s. Instead, Auburn’s total was 17% of Georgia’s rushing yards allowed, 22.3% of Alabama’s rushing yards allowed, and an amazing 26.7% of Missouri’s rushing yards allowed.
In other words, Florida State can stop the run against most teams, but Auburn is not most teams. The bottom line is this: if Auburn can establish it’s running game and keep Florida State’s offense on the sideline, they win.