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Redshirt freshman Jameis Winston (5) and junior running back Devonta Freeman
No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 2 Auburn, 1/6, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
It’s the final chapter of the the BCS era, and why not end it at one of the most famous venues in sports, the Rose Bowl?
Florida State makes its first BCS National Championship appearance since 2001 and will do it with Heisman Trophy quarterback Jameis Winston.
Winston, who has passed for 3,820 yards and 38 touchdowns, leads a potent Seminole offense averaging an astounding 53.0 points per game this season (first in the nation).
The offense has threats in both the running and passing game as well. The backfield consists of All-ACC running back Devonta Freeman (943 rushing yards and 14 TDs) and Karlos Williams (705 rushing yards and 11 TDs).
A passing game, which is averaging 322 yards per game, is loaded at the wide receiver position with All-ACC wide receiver Rashad Greene, Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw. All three players have more than 900 receiving yards and have combined for 29 touchdowns.
Tight end Nick O’Leary is capable of making big plays in the passing game as well.
While the offense has dismantled opposing defenses this season, the Florida State defense has done its job by holding opponents to only 10.7 points per game (first in the nation).
The Seminole defense, led by All-American senior cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, is first in the nation against the pass (152.0 yards per game), but it will be the run defense that will have its hands full against a run-heavy Auburn offense. Florida State is currently 13th in the nation against the run by surrendering just 116.5 yards per game.
The Seminoles were a heavy favorite to advance to Pasadena once it defeated Miami (Fla.) 41-14 on Nov. 2, but Auburn was a completely different story.
After an awful 3-9 finish in 2012, first year head coach Gus Malzahn led a preseason unranked Auburn team to an incredible 12-1 record and its second BCS title appearance in four years.
The Tiger rushing attack, which is first in the nation with 335.7 yards per game, will be key to the offense having success. Explosive All-SEC running back Tre Mason and quarterback Nick Marshall have had success on the ground by combining for 2,644 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns.
Auburn hasn’t been as successful through the air this season, but Marshall has managed to pass for 1,759 yards and make critical completions when the game has been on the line. Wide receiver Sammie Coates heads the receiving corps with 841 yards and seven touchdowns this season.
All-SEC defensive end Dee Ford (28 tackles and 8.5 sacks) leads a Tiger defense that is surrendering 24 points per game.
In games against talented offenses this season, Auburn has needed to rely on its offense, which has averaged 40.2 points per game, to win games. The pass defense must step up after allowing 260.2 passing yards per game (104th in the nation) during the regular season, if it expects to have success against Winston and company.
The BCS era will come to a close with a tight game decided in the final minutes of regulation.
Prediction: Florida State 35, Auburn 28