BCS Championship Game 2014: 5 Bold Predictions for Florida State
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — All the hype, all the analysis and all of the discussion is in the books, and it's now time for toe to meet leather in the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game between No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Auburn.
So what better time than now to step out on that limb and make some bold predictions for the Seminoles?
Head coach Jimbo Fisher brings his team into this game with a target on its back and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston at quarterback.
Here are five bold predictions for Florida State in the title game.
Devonta Freeman Will Rush for 100 Yards
A lot has been made of Auburn's depth along its defensive line and its ability to stay fresh for a full four quarters.
Well, two can play at that game.
Devonta Freeman, Karlos Williams and James Wilder Jr. provide a three-headed attack at running back for the Seminoles. Unlike Auburn's running backs, who have specific roles, all three excel as multidimensional running backs, with Freeman leading the way.
"Guys stay fresh, but we stay fresh too," Freeman said. "We do the same things they do. I feel like we'll be as fresh as them, and at the end of the day, it's not as much about them as it is about us."
The 5'9", 208-pounder has the speed to take it to the house and the build to be tough between the tackles. He'll lead the Seminole charge at running back and will break the century mark on the ground in this shootout.
Christian Jones Will Force a Fumble
Ball security has been a major issue for Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall over the last few games. He fumbled three times in the SEC Championship Game, with one of those returned for a touchdown by Missouri's E.J. Gaines.
That has been a point of emphasis during bowl preparation for Marshall and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, according to Brandon Marcello of AL.com.
But when rubber meets the road on Monday night, linebacker Christian Jones will force those ball-security issues to pop back up one time inside the Rose Bowl in the title tilt.
Will that fumble come back to haunt the Tigers? If it's a lost turnover, perhaps. But that's Marshall's game. He plays fast and loose with the football, and that's a big reason why he's such a dynamic playmaker.
It Won't Be Kelvin Benjamin with the Big Day Receiving, It'll Be Rashad Greene
The trio of Kelvin Benjamin, Rashad Greene and Kenny Shaw has been a big reason why Florida State finds itself playing for the crystal football on Monday. Each has more than 50 receptions and more than 900 receiving yards this season.
While the 6'5" Benjamin may seem like the guy set for a big day, it's going to be Green who leads the Seminoles in receiving yards against the Tigers.
The reason has nothing to do with anything concerning Florida State; rather, it has more to do with Auburn cornerback Chris Davis.
At 5"11", Davis has a six-inch size disadvantage on Benjamin but plays much bigger than his frame. He'll keep Benjamin relatively in check.
Greene vs. Jonathon Mincy, on the other hand, will be a different story.
Mincy will get picked on a bit, and Greene will do the picking, as he will emerge as quarterback Jameis Winston's favorite target on the night.
Florida State's Rush Defense Won't Be Stout
Florida State is one of the best defenses Auburn will face all season. The Seminoles are giving up just 116.54 yards per game on the ground and a minuscule 3.14 yards per carry.
It won't matter.
Auburn's multidimensional rushing attack is so finely tuned that there's not much the 'Noles will be able to do about it.
"You have to have eye discipline," Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "Any time you have moving parts, any time you bring something in front of you, just like when you're driving, if somebody flashes a hand in front of you while you're driving down the road it makes you blink. It makes your eyes distracted and you get off of what you're looking at and then at the same time they become very physical with how they play, and you get yourself out of position."
Led by quarterback Nick Marshall, running back Tre Mason and speedster Corey Grant, the Tigers will rush for more than 250 yards on the Seminoles at more than five yards per carry.
This game will turn into a shootout, and Auburn's ground game will keep pace.
It'll Be a Nail-Biter for 'Noles Fans
Everybody seems to have an opinion on how this will play out. It's the team of destiny in Auburn against the team looking to cap off a perfect season.
"I'm glad they call Auburn the team of destiny, because at Florida State we control our own destiny," Seminole quarterback Jameis Winston said.
Winston won't control what happens at the end of this one, though.
Auburn will have the ball late with a chance to win a high-scoring affair in Pasadena, and it'll be up to defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt's defense to get one stop to claim the BCS National Championship.
Florida State will get it done.
The 'Noles will take down the team of destiny 38-35 with a stop late in the fourth quarter and take home the final crystal football of the BCS era.
*Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.