While the majority of the talk leading up to the BCS National Championship Game between No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Auburn centers around the Seminoles' ability or inability to slow down the Tigers' potent rushing attack, there are other factors in play that could determine the outcome.
One that could swing the result in favor of Auburn is tight end C.J. Uzomah.
The tight end from Suwanee, Ga., only has nine catches for 146 yards on the season, but three of those catches have gone for touchdowns—all of which were from 25 yards out or closer.
According to AL.com, Uzomah was nursing a sore shoulder versus Missouri in the SEC Championship Game and only saw the field for one play.
Now that he's healthy, the junior presents a matchup nightmare for opposing players and coaches. At 6'4", 258 pounds, he towers over defensive backs, but has the speed to get separation from linebackers.
Take a look at his touchdown reception versus Alabama.
Uzomah makes a little hitch five yards into his route, takes off upfield and goes up over 5'10" defensive back Cyrus Jones for the touchdown shortly before safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix could get over to help out.
Auburn won't throw to him much, but down near the red zone, when opposing defenses have been battered by the run and expect more coming, that's when the Tigers will look Uzomah's way.
According to Brandon Marcello of AL.com, Uzomah knows that he's a bit of an untapped resource for quarterback Nick Marshall.
"We have a few more things," Uzomah said. "We haven't really showed it, so I really don't want to say too much."
He shouldn't have to say much. If the layoff allows Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt the time needed to figure out Auburn's running game or Auburn feels the need to mix things up in the red zone, expect head coach Gus Malzahn to dial up Uzomah versus the Seminoles.
Sure, Florida State has players that can matchup with Uzomah. SAM linebacker Christian Jones has a similar body style, and all three Seminole linebackers have the athleticism to keep up with him.
However, Auburn won't use him unless it gets the matchups it wants.
Cornerback Lamarcus Joyner is great, but at 5'8", he'd have his work cut out for him. Strong safety Jalen Ramsey, at 6'1," could win some 50/50 battles, but his 195-pound frame wouldn't hold up against Uzomah.
"I think passes where he [Marshall] can let me make a play or put it on my body is what we feel most comfortable with, because he knows I'm a big guy out there, and if he gives me a chance, I'll try my best to usually make a play," Uzomah told Marcello.
If he can make an impact early, it will keep Florida State's secondary honest in the red zone, which makes those holes just a bit bigger for Marshall and running backs Tre Mason and Corey Grant in the ground game.
Uzomah isn't going to have the biggest impact on the stat sheet. In fact, he may only be targeted two or three times.
But those instances will be in key spots during the game and could make the difference between a win and loss for the Tigers.
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