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BCS National Championship Game 2014: Why Auburn's Luck Will Finally Run Out

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Andrew CoppensContributor IJanuary 5, 2014

Few will ever forget the name Chris Davis thanks to his 109-yard return of a missed Alabama field goal. It's a play many believe put Auburn in Monday's BCS National Championship Game against Florida State. 

However, it was just one of a series of lucky plays and fantastic breaks the Tigers got in 2013 to put them in this position. 

First there was the game-winning touchdown in the final 20 seconds against Mississippi State in Week 3. 

Auburn's luck also came through again against Georgia, when two Bulldogs couldn't get enough of a last-ditch heave from Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall. 

As the saying goes, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

But while being lucky may have worked against the likes of Mississippi State, Georgia and Alabama, Florida State isn't any of those teams. It will take a lot more than luck to beat the Seminoles for the national championship on Monday night,, and the numbers suggest that Auburn's luck will be in short supply.  

See, FSU has the one thing that none of those teams Auburn beat on lucky plays had: defense. 

That's right, for all the hype and Heisman Trophy platitudes around Jameis Winston and the Seminoles offense, the most important ingredient to Florida State's undefeated season has been a stifling defense. 

The Seminoles come into the BCS National Championship Game allowing just 10.7 points per game on the year—No. 1 in the country in scoring defense. But FSU isn't just stingy on the scoreboard; its defense is stingy in all ways: 

Florida State Defensive Rankings
CategoryStatNational Ranking
Scoring Defense10.71st
Total Defense268.53rd
Rushing Defense116.513th
Passing Defense1521st
NCAA.org

If there is one thing those numbers prove, it's that if you're going to beat Florida State, you'll have to do it the hard way. There will be no luck involved in getting points against this defense. Auburn will simply have to out-execute and out-game plan the Seminoles.

Of course, that's one big task.  Just ask Clemson, which was supposed to give FSU a game. Instead, it turned into a 51-14 pounding. 

Oct 5, 2013; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (8) puts pressure on Maryland Terrapins quarterback Caleb Rowe (7) during the second half of the game at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

In three ACC regular-season games against Top 25 competition, the Seminoles proved to be the most complete team in the country, winning by a combined score of 155-28. Against all four ranked opponents this season, FSU won by a total of 200-35. 

That's about as dominant as you can be, winning by an average of 50 to 8.75. 

Sure, Auburn has a very good offense that can give FSU a challenge, but the Seminoles' track record against high-powered offenses suggest they actually play better against tougher competition. It's not to say the Tigers aren't capable of being on the same field or winning the game against FSU, but they'll need to really outplay and not out-luck the best opponent they've faced all season.

Florida State's combination of a talented and efficient offense and a very stout defense won't provide the margin of error for Auburn to be able to create situations in which to get lucky. Come Monday, Auburn will have to instead rely on doing the old-fashioned way—earning it by outplaying its opponent.

 

You can follow Andy on Twitter: @ andycoppens.

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