The upcoming BCS National Championship is going to be decided when the No. 2 Auburn Tigers take the field against the top-ranked Florida State Seminoles.
After a wild year of collegiate football in 2013, these are the two teams left standing at the top. FSU was fortunate enough to go unbeaten and do so in convincing fashion, while Auburn shook off an early-season loss to LSU to become an absolute powerhouse down the stretch.
We are left with arguably the most exciting matchup of the season and one that should be an absolute joy to watch due to the teams and players involved. Perhaps the only way for things to be more thrilling is to have a wager on the outcome.
If you are seeking advice on which way to lean in this one, look no further. I have you covered. Keep reading for information on how to catch this matchup, plus my picks and predictions against the spread.
When: Monday, Jan. 6, at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Point Spread: Florida State -8.5, as of Jan. 3 via ScoresAndOdds.com
The ‘Noles are favored by more than a touchdown here, which means oddsmakers are predicting that the Southeastern Conference’s reign of dominance in the national title game could be over.
It’s a bold projection, considering the SEC has won all seven BCS National Championship games (since the format change in 2006) and also covered the spread in each.
Regardless, it’s not hard to see why FSU is being given so much credit. The program put up historic numbers in 2013 and was undoubtedly the best out of all the major college football teams.
Florida State won all but one of its contests by 27 or more points and also stepped up its game against ranked opponents. In four matchups against opponents in the Top 25 at the time of kickoff, FSU scored 200 points and conceded a mere 35 points total.
Give credit to the Seminoles defense for this outstanding run of success, as it ranked as the No. 1 unit in the country in points allowed. That helped the team slap together a margin of victory that averaged out to just more than 42 points per contest in 2013.
Quarterback Jameis Winston, the school’s freshman Heisman Award-winning sensation, deserves more than his fair share of accolades. The elite signal-caller finished the season with 3,820 yards and 38 touchdowns on 237-of-349 completions.
He swept the major award categories, with College Football 24/7 noting that Winston just needs a crystal trophy to complete his hardware collection:
Jameis Winston adds AP player of year to Heisman, Camp, O'Brien, ACC player of year. BCS nat'l title all that's left. http://t.co/msV67ODK3g— CollegeFootball 24/7 (@NFL_CFB) December 24, 2013
FSU did not rank as the sixth-most effective offense in the nation due to Winston’s presence alone—although it could come close—but also had plenty of help from star running back Devonta Freeman and a plethora of athletic, fast receivers.
Auburn cornerback Justin Mincy admitted that the matchup will be tough, telling Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated: “It's going to be a big challenge. That's all I've been hearing about -- their wide receivers."
It’s going to be a challenge for Auburn to cover all of these elite weapons with a defense that ranks No. 95 in terms of yards per play allowed. In the last two games, this group gave up a total of 1,029 yards to the Missouri Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide.
While the Tigers have been fortunate enough to use their triple-option to generate even more yards (1,070 in the same span), it will be tough to be that efficient against a prepared defense that has been working on stopping exactly that type of attack for more than a month.
Which team will cover the spread?
For that reason alone, it is worth backing the ‘Noles in the national title game. Factor in that FSU has gone 9-0-1 against the spread over its last 10 postseason matchups and you are looking at icing on the cake.
This is the only team in the nation that ranks in the top 10 for both defense and offense and it will put that on display against a one-dimensional Tigers squad on Monday.
While laying a touchdown or more against Auburn hasn’t been a wise play as of late, the Seminoles are going to prove that they are superior with a well-rounded, efficient showing.
Prediction: Florida State 45, Auburn 35