TALLAHASSEE, FL- In the coming weeks, Florida State against Auburn will most likely be pitted as a matchup between the ACC and SEC instead of a simple matchup between two teams. Some will use the SEC argument to make a point that Auburn, in fact, should be favored, due to the pedigree of the conference.
"They've won seven straight!" they'll say. "The SEC plays in the best conference in the country and plays the best defense!"
Good points, possibly, if the team that plays the most like an SEC team wasn't going up against the SEC team.
Florida State has modeled itself in the form of the Alabama's and Florida's of the past. Hot, nasty speed on the offensive side and unforgiving athletes on the defensive end. The Seminoles score points at their own will, and the first-string defense hasn't given up a rushing touchdown all season.
Auburn shed any hope of being a defensive juggernaut last weekend, when the Tigers gave up 534 yards against Missouri. They are a dangerous offensive threat, especially when it comes to the read option with Nick Marshall and Tre Mason, but the stifling defense that the SEC is known for resides in Tallahassee, not Auburn.
"Yeah, it would be great, but football is football," Florida State running back Devonta Freeman said of potentially beating the SEC and ending its win streak. "Look at Jameis Winston, he's probably the best quarterback, and he's only a freshman. So that's why I say football is football, it doesn't matter what conference you're in, [it matters] what you do."
|Florida State versus Auburn by the numbers (rankings in parentheses)|
|Offense||Points per game||Total yards per game||Pass yards per game||Rushing yards per game||Total touchdowns|
|Florida State||53 (2nd)||529.4 (6th)||322 (14th)||207.4 (28th)||90 (1st)|
|Auburn||40.2 (12th)||505.3 (11th)||169.6 (107th)||335. 7 (1st)||69 (8th)|
|Defense||Points allowed per game||Total yards allowed per game||Pass yards allowed per game||Rushing yards allowed per game||Total touchdowns allowed|
|Florida State||10.7 (1st)||268.5 (3rd)||152 (1st)||116. 5 (16th)||17 (1st)|
|Auburn||24 (38th)||423.5 (88th)||260.2 (104th)||163.2 (64th)||37 (46th)|
Florida State actually outranks Auburn in just about every statistical category, with the the main advantage coming from Auburn's rushing attack, which is the best in the country.
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher discussed the game during a teleconference Sunday:
Gus does a tremendous job, because like I say they can handle on the speed sweep, they outflank you, they have great receivers and motion guys that way, they can run the ball inside with great power and the quarterback can run it and play action off of it, which is like a four‑headed monster ‑‑ you talk about a three‑headed monster, they have a four‑headed monster and they have an excellent offensive line.
There's a reason why the Seminoles have already opened as 8.5-point favorites over the Tigers, according to Wynn Las Vegas, but that's why they play the game. Anything could happen (see: Florida demolishing a heavily favored Ohio State team in 2006), and ESPN and other media entities will try to bring up the narrative of SEC vs. ACC, of Auburn having soft factors like "dealing with adversity" and "being God's team of destiny" to try and hype the game up.
Florida State will be questioned for playing a lesser schedule than Auburn. Some will wonder if the Seminoles will be able to deal with not blowing out a team right off the bat. They won't be able to deal with the SEC power, and they won't be able to deal with the pure talent.
But, by all accounts, Florida State is the SEC team in this situation.