Florida State and Auburn will ensure that the BCS goes out with a bang, as both teams have had incredible (albeit, different) paths to the BCS National Championship Game.
The Seminoles were led by the arm of Heisman winner Jameis Winston. The redshirt freshman quarterback led FSU to a 13-0 record and the No. 1 offense in the nation. What often gets overlooked, however, is the team's No. 1 defense. By all accounts, FSU has been the best team in the nation this season.
The Tigers, on the other hand, were a late addition to the BCS title game scrum. A last-second win against then-No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 30 put Auburn in the discussion, but it was the Tigers' Dec. 7 win against Missouri in the SEC Championship Game that really locked them in.
The matchup between undefeated FSU and Cinderella story Auburn will be of epic proportions. Can Auburn stop FSU from running the gamut? Can FSU put a halt to Auburn's Cinderella dreams?
Here's all the crucial information you need to know for the game in order to tune in and find out.
|Monday, Jan. 6||8:30 p.m. ET||Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.||ESPN||WatchESPN|
What to Expect from VIZIO BCS National Championship Game
Both physicality and finesse will be on display when Auburn and FSU take the field for the final BCS title clash in college football history.
The Seminoles defense and offensive line will be handling most of the physicality. The No. 1 defense in the country allowed just 10.7 points per game this season—and that includes a 34-point outburst by Boston College on Sept. 28. Since then, no team has scored more than 17 (NC State, Oct. 26) against them.
Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com breaks down what makes FSU's defense so dominant:
Florida State's defense has allowed the fewest points in the country (10.7 points per game) and has produced the highest total of interceptions (25). To be a dominant unit, you need to have impact players at all three levels of your defense: defensive line, linebacker and secondary. The Noles check all three of those boxes. Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, linebacker Telvin Smith and cornerback Lamarcus Joyner are among the best players in college football at their respective positions.
"If we get lined up and we execute, there's no way we're going to lose the ball game." - FSU LB Telvin Smith— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) January 4, 2014
Those three—along with the rest of the defensive unit—will look to make things difficult for Nick Marshall and Co.
In terms of finesse, Auburn's offense relies on the option and the usage of speed runs outside the tackles. Marshall is more of a runner than he is a passer under center, and Heisman finalist Tre Mason racked up over 1,600 yards on 5.7 yards per carry this season. The two of them were instrumental in ranking Auburn's offense No. 1 in terms of yards per game on the ground (335.7).
If the Tigers' finesse can break the physicality of FSU's defense, then Auburn should be able to put points on the board. Gus Malzahn's squad scored 40.2 points per game this season (No. 9 in the nation), so something will have to give between the two units.
Winston and Marshall will be the most important players on the field come game time.
The case for Winston is obvious. His on-field triumphs this season were tremendous. Just take a look at his numbers.
|CMP%||Pass Yards||TD/INT||Rush Yards||TD|
There's a reason Winston won the Heisman. His ability to both lead and make plays for the Seminoles during his first season as the team's quarterback was unheralded. There was no defense that could stifle his decision-making skills, nor was there ever a situation that could knock him off his game.
Ironically, Winston will turn 20 years old on Monday, Jan. 6. He told Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald that all he wants for his birthday is a blowout:
"The NCAA has all these rules, but it does not say you cannot blow out everybody you play," Winston said Friday. "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?’"
A blowout could very well happen if Marshall doesn't do his best to match the points that FSU will inevitably put on the board.
Marshall's numbers through the air were far worse than Winston's, but his exploits on the ground were unmatched by every quarterback in the country.
|CMP%||Pass Yards||TD/INT||Rush Yards||TD|
Nobody is asking Marshall to go out there and pass for four touchdowns, but Marshall will need to take advantage of his opportunities through the air. Wide receiver Sammie Coates has big-play potential, but Marshall will need to get him the ball over the top of FSU's defense when it stuffs the box to stop the run.
Marshall is, perhaps, the biggest key to this game for both teams. If he's on, then FSU will have a lot to handle. If he struggles, then Winston might just get that blowout he's looking for.