Bleacher Report's Expert Predictions for the 2014 BCS National Championship
After thousands of games over nearly five months, we are left with two teams and one game for all the marbles.
The last BCS National Championship Game will pit college football's most dominant force, Florida State, against its Cinderella story, Auburn, in the Rose Bowl with the final BCS championship on the line.
Read on as Bleacher Report's crack team of experts tell you who will take home the crystal football.
Adam Kramer, Lead Writer
The difference in the game will actually be the Florida State running backs, an explosive group that has been overshadowed by the star power at other positions.
While Auburn should still have success running the football behind one of the nation's best offensive lines, it won't be as strong as it was in the final stretch of the season. Defensively, the Seminoles have the personnel to slow down (but not stop) the nation's most dynamic rushing attack, and they will be able to do that.
Oh yeah, Jameis Winston (remember him?) will make a play or two as well, as Florida State will come away victorious in the final BCS game ever.
Prediction: Florida State 44, Auburn 31
Barrett Sallee, Lead Writer
A lot of talk will center around whether FSU's defense can slow down Nick Marshall, Tre Mason and Auburn now that it's had a month to prepare.
Auburn is so well-versed at what it does offensively that it simply doesn't matter how much time defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has, the Tigers will get theirs. This game will come down to Auburn's secondary versus Jameis Winston and the Seminoles wide receivers.
Auburn may get a pick or two, but Winston will get the last laugh and have a big night en route to the crystal football.
Prediction: Florida State 38, Auburn 35
Michael Felder, Lead Writer
Florida State is going to get a big win, ending the SEC's streak of BCS National Championship wins and putting the Seminoles on top of the pile as the BCS era ends.
Jeremy Pruitt's defense is going to sell out to stop the run and force quarterback Nick Marshall to beat Florida State by throwing the ball down the field with consistency and accuracy. That is not Marshall's game, and although there will be big plays, the key to beating Auburn is not allowing this attack to win first and second downs with four- to seven-yard gains.
I expect the Noles defense to put Auburn in a few more 3rd-and-long situations than it is used to seeing.
Jameis Winston and Florida State's three-headed running back monster will take advantage of a vulnerable Auburn defense, and ultimately the Noles will walk away victorious.
Prediction: Florida State 41, Auburn 28
Rich Thomaselli, Deputy Editor
For every person out there screaming that Auburn was two lucky plays away from a two-loss season, I offer this: Luck is the residue of success.
It's easy to forget that Auburn played extraordinarily well against both Georgia and Alabama. It came back from 14 down against Bama to put itself in position to win.
Auburn's resiliency and ability to adapt to any situation have impressed me. The Tigers will have devised a defensive scheme by game time, especially in their vulnerable secondary, to slow down FSU just enough to win.
Prediction: Auburn 41, Florida State 35
Max Rausch, Associate Editor
With all the hype around Gus Malzahn's offense, it is easy to forget Auburn needed two last-second miracles and some help from mighty Michigan State just to get to this game.
As for the Noles, Florida State could have booked hotel rooms in Pasadena after its Week 8 demolishing of Clemson. Point blank, Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles have authored one of the most dominant college football seasons in recent memory. That's right, they were even better than Bama.
Gus Malzahn, Nick Marshall and Tre Mason will score, there is no doubt about that. However, Auburn's SEC-worst passing defense will be no match for Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, Kelvin Benjamin and Nick O'Leary.
If Auburn wants to keep this thing close, the defense will probably need to contribute some points.
Prediction: Florida State 42, Auburn 28
Eric Bowman, Associate Editor
Auburn's Cinderella season will come crashing down on the big stage. However, I do expect the Tigers to put up a good fight.
Just like we've seen all season long, offense will steal the spotlight in the biggest game of the year. Jameis Winston and Kelvin Benjamin will put on an exciting show and prove to be too much for Auburn's secondary.
On the other end, Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt will force Nick Marshall to beat the Noles with his arm. He'll provide some explosive plays, but in the end Marshall won't be able to do enough, and Winston will come through in the clutch to put the game away late.
Prediction: Florida State 40, Auburn 30
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