The 2014 BCS National Championship Game features the two best teams in the country, as the No. 2 Auburn Tigers (12-1) and the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles (13-0) will clash on Monday in the final BCS title game before a playoff system is implemented.
Auburn is looking to become the SEC’s eighth straight national champion, completing a conference sweep of the BCS Championship since the format changed to a separate game in 2006.
The Tigers are considered by many to be a “team of destiny," after they lost an early-season game to LSU but recovered to rip off nine wins in a row. That stretch included victories over Alabama in the Iron Bowl and Missouri in the SEC Championship Game.
However, they will have their hands full against FSU, which remained undefeated from an automatic qualifying conference. The ACC champions boast a Heisman Award winner at quarterback in Jameis Winston, an electrifying offense and one of the most tenacious defenses in the country.
It’s going to be a showdown for the ages that you won't want to miss. Keep reading to find out where to catch all the action, plus betting information, a prediction on the final score and much more.
When: Monday, Jan. 6, at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Betting Lines (via ScoresAndOdds.com)
- Over/under: 67.5 points
- Spread: Florida State -9
|Patrick Miller||OL||Ques (disciplinary), Dec. 31|
|Joshua Holsey||DB||Out (knee), Oct. 26|
|Justin Garrett||LB||Out (foot), Dec. 17|
|Jaylon Denson||WR||Out (knee), Sept. 25|
|Jeffrey Whitaker||DT||Out (leg), Oct. 8|
|Nile Lawrence-Stample||DT||Ques (concussion), Dec. 31|
|Mario Pender||RB||Ques (eligibility), Dec. 31|
|Isaiah Jones||WR||Out (foot), Dec. 17|
|Matthew Thomas||LB||Out (shoulder), Dec. 17|
|Wilson Bell||OL||Out (knee), Dec. 17|
|Tyler Hunter||DB||Out (spine), Dec. 17|
|Ira Denson||OL||Out (shoulder), Oct. 4|
|Jeremy Kerr||TE||Out (knee), Dec. 17|
|Kevin Haplea||TE||Out (knee), Aug. 23|
|Willie Haulstead||WR||Out (academics), Aug. 17|
|Greg Dent||WR||Out (suspension), Aug. 15|
|Jarred Haggins||WR||Out (knee), Aug. 15|
Can Auburn Contain Jameis Winston?
Auburn’s defense is going to have a tough time stopping Winston, as the freshman signal-caller is an elite talent who also has plenty of top-tier weapons surrounding him.
He captured the 2013 Heisman Award by completing 237-of-349 passes for 3,820 yards and 38 touchdowns. He tossed just 10 interceptions while also running 77 times for 193 yards and four additional scores.
He has been running one of the most devastating offenses in the nation, which finished the 2013 campaign with an average margin of victory of more than 42 points.
FSU’s offense was the sixth most effective per play, as it put up 322.0 yards per game through the air and 207.4 yards on the ground. The 53.0 points per game that the ‘Noles scored made them the top-scoring program in the FBS.
Auburn’s defense isn’t equipped to handle this kind of firepower. The Tigers ranked No. 95 in the country in terms of yards allowed per play. The defense conceded more than 1,000 total yards in the final two contests of the season and has to be more efficient if it is going to have any hope of containing Winston.
Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson spoke with ESPN’s Heather Dinich about his team’s strategy to limit Winston with the crystal trophy on the line. When asked if the difference in the game would be forcing the FSU signal-caller into committing uncharacteristic mistakes and turnovers, Johnson said:
It's going to be a big factor. The play in the box, they have tremendous skill out on the edges, but the pressure in the box is going to be one of the biggest keys to any defensive success that we have. There will be some other things in the game we can't control, kicking game, offense, all are going to contribute. But as far as us performing defensively and giving our football team a chance to win, there's got to be pressure on the quarterback.
Dee Ford, a defensive end for the Tigers, is confident that he will bring Winston to the turf. As per CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman, the senior pass-rusher had this to say:
Asked what makes him so confident he can get to Jameis Winston, #Auburn DE Dee Ford: "He's a quarterback. He drops back." Smiles, laughs— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) January 3, 2014
The young quarterback should have a bit of extra motivation to avoid that rush and make some plays down the field, as he recently had a chance to check out The Coaches’ Trophy ahead of the title game:
"I need this in my life"-Jameis Winston pic.twitter.com/ayCmBdn7Pz— #BeatAuburn (@NoleFanatics) January 3, 2014
It’s going to be an excellent matchup, and Winston’s performance will be the difference in the outcome. If he has a good game, Florida State will be crowned the national champion. If he has a disappointing outing—a rare occurrence in 2013—it could spell doom for the Seminoles.
Auburn has been a special program in 2013, but it has also been lucky.
Plays like “The Miracle on the Plains” catch against Georgia and a rare missed-field-goal return against ‘Bama have made the difference between this upstart program making a run-of-the-mill bowl and the BCS Championship Game.
While head coach Gus Malzahn, quarterback Nick Marshall and running back Tre Mason all deserve credit for installing and executing one of the most flawless triple-option attacks that college football has seen in a long time, the Tigers offense is rather one-dimensional.
With more than a month to prepare for this contest, the Seminoles should be ready to limit the effectiveness of Auburn’s rushing attack.
Which team will win?
Expect these two potent offenses to trade blows out of the gate, but eventually the ineffectiveness of the Tigers defense will start to show. Florida State may not even punt in this game, while Auburn will be stymied at least a handful of times by an elite unit that conceded just 10.7 points per game in 2013.
Florida State wins, 45-35.