The Auburn Tigers, riding miracles and dreams to the BCS National Championship Game, are expected to be trounced by the Florida State Seminoles on Monday.
I suspect that won't last very long.
In its grand farewell, the stage is set for an epic BCS Championship Game—two dramatically different styles of play and opponents from diametrically-opposed conferences.
The storylines, now well-established, differ as much as any two opponents' storylines have in college football's pinnacle game. The scene, as the BCS makes its exit after 16 exciting and frustrating years, is almost serendipitous in its beauty.
It should be one for the record books, too. Both teams rank in the nation's top ten scoring offenses and are led by Heisman finalists. One of them, in fact, even took the trophy.
Let's take a look at both teams and review why this BCS Championship Game could smash the record of 79 combined points scored in Texas' win over USC in 2006.
College basketball's March Madness is known for Cinderella stories. George Mason, Dunk City and many others have graced the big stage with unexpected success.
Auburn may just be the biggest Cinderella story the BCS National Championship Game has ever seen.
Coming off of a year that saw a three-win season run its coach out of town, the Tigers were picked fifth in the SEC West behind juggernauts like Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M. Even lowly Ole Miss was picked higher.
Dashing expectations, new head coach Gus Malzahn and his dynamic offense lost just one game en route to playing for a national title for the second time in four years. It didn't come easily, though.
The Tigers needed a touchdown with 10 seconds left to sneak past Mississippi State—a lucky bounce off of a sure-fire interception to beat Georgia. And a nearly impossible missed field goal return for a touchdown to topple Alabama. Granted, those miracles are often needed in a conference that has produced the previous seven national champions. This is a once-in-a-lifetime story of an unbelievably talented coach, a historic turnaround and an amazingly lucky season.
For Florida State, the story is different. Very different.
FSU has an average winning margin of over 40 points, including a 45-7 stomping of Coastal Division champion Duke in the ACC Championship Game. Its closest win came in a 48-34 victory at Boston College.
The second consecutive freshman to win it, Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston leads Florida State into this year's national title bout as an 8.5 point favorite.
Why This One's Special
To begin, let's look at the obvious. These teams are special offensively.
Florida State leads the nation, scoring 53.0 points per game—a total of 689 points on the year. Only Oklahoma in 2008 came into the season's final game averaging more in the BCS era.
Auburn ranks ninth nationally, averaging 40.2 points per game with a total of 522.
That puts the two teams' total at 1,211 points scored thus far—exactly the same amount as the previous record-holders Texas and USC had scored heading into their famed matchup in 2006.
The defenses are similar as well, but when you factor in Florida State's 89th-ranked strength of schedule and its defense's relatively easy task thus far, it becomes clear that this year's title game could be explosive.
As with all successful teams, the leaders for both grabbed the attention of Heisman Trophy voters as well. Jameis Winston, the Florida State freshman phenom that racked up 3,820 yards of passing, connected on 38 touchdowns and averaged a 190.1 pass efficiency rating, took the Heisman in a landslide while Auburn's star running back Tre Mason placed sixth in the award's voting after rushing for 1,621 yards and scoring 22 touchdowns.
It's not often that a Cinderella finds her glass slipper next to a crystal ball. Auburn has a chance to make that fantasy a reality, and Florida State's powerhouse is determined to ruin it.
This year's final edition of the BCS Championship Game is packed with storylines and intrigue, capped by Auburn's sudden rise to power in the Southeastern Conference. Both defenses will have their hands full—Auburn with a potent passing attack led by Winston and Florida State with a powerful run game led by Mason.
Whether you're rooting for the SEC's eighth-straight or for the Seminoles to end the streak, you can rest assured that you'll join millions of Americans in watching an offensive showcase of historic proportions Monday night.