Jameis Winston has had one of the most memorable freshman seasons of any quarterback in college football history.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner gives the Florida State Seminoles an edge at the most important position, which will help guide the No. 1 team in the country to the BCS title over the second-ranked Auburn Tigers.
Nick Marshall is just getting acquainted with playing quarterback in his first year as a starter for Auburn, making the Tigers more of a one-dimensional attack. That hasn't really stopped them all season, but against the likes of FSU, it might be a bit of a different story.
As long as the Seminoles can at least somewhat contain Marshall and star running back Tre Mason, it will be up to the Auburn signal-caller to make some key throws from the pocket.
Not only is Winston facing a far more favorable defensive matchup than Marshall and Co. are, but he also has superior weaponry in the receiving corps and a deeper backfield to complement him.
Although Florida State is loaded across the board with arguably the most all-around talented roster in the country, having a quarterback to make everything run smoothly is vital. Winston has lived up to his massive hype and even exceeded it in becoming just the second freshman ever to win the Heisman.
In a season of incredible scrutiny under the spotlight, nothing has been too overwhelming for Winston to handle. That's a testament to his moxie and mental fortitude, characteristics that often separate the great quarterbacks from the good ones.
In that context, it comes as no surprise that Winston is full of confidence ahead of the Monday, Jan. 6 showdown in Pasadena, Calif. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reported what Winston had to say about the prospects of a blowout on Friday, Jan. 3:
The NCAA has all these rules, but it does not say you cannot blow out everybody you play. Before we played Clemson, before we played Florida, before we played Miami … I said "Guys, where in the rulebook does it say we can’t blow out everybody that we play?"
...Alabama blew out Notre Dame in the championship game last year. We can do anything we want to do.
ESPN insider Brett McMurphy recorded another bold statement from Winston, implying that his team's dominance—rather than strokes of fortune Auburn has benefited from—has gotten the Seminoles to the brink of a national championship:
No one has given up fewer rushing touchdowns than the Seminoles' five this season, per NCAA.com, which is sure to test Auburn's top-ranked ground game.
That should leave it up to Winston to make the most of a shaky Tigers secondary that ranks among the worst defenses in the country against the pass.
As if upperclassmen Kenny Shaw and Rashad Greene won't create enough problems, 6'5" sophomore Kelvin Benjamin is bound to win his battles with Auburn defensive backs using his size and speed, too.
All Winston has to do is continue to be himself, stand and deliver in the pocket and make things happen when the play breaks down. Winston controls his own destiny and the fate of his team, which is why Florida State will be hoisting the Coaches' Trophy on Monday, Jan. 6.
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