On the surface, the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game will be a dogfight between the Florida State Seminoles and the Auburn Tigers to decide which team is the best in college football. While that may be true, the BCS title game is really a battle to see which group of playmakers can put up the best numbers.
Auburn and FSU are two teams comprised almost entirely of stars on the offensive side of the ball. With that being the case, the final score will be dictated by how well (or how poorly) each standout performs.
Of course, Heisman winner Jameis Winston will be at the main focus of the contest. The redshirt freshman put together stellar numbers in his first season under center for FSU. But what should we expect from him against Auburn?
Winston and the Seminoles haven't really faced as tough a team as Auburn this season, so it will be interesting to see how well he fares against a strong opponent. The same can be said for the rest of the stars in this one.
This is what some of their final stat lines might look like.
Jameis Winston, QB, FSU
Winston has been the most consistent, prolific quarterback in college football this season—hence his Heisman trophy. The freshman has shown great poise and leadership under center, and his unwavering demeanor while on the field will be put to the test against the Tigers.
Auburn has taken care of Johnny Manziel, A.J. McCarron and Aaron Murray this season. While Winston is another level above those stars, the fact remains that Auburn has shown that it can beat great quarterbacks.
I expect Auburn to throw creative blitz packages at Winston throughout the first half. If it works in keeping him honest, then expect more of the same in the second half.
The Auburn defense is of the belief that it has a fail-proof plan of slowing him down. Auburn defensive end Dee Ford told Joel A. Erickson of AL.com of the unit's plans: "Pressure makes any quarterback average. We definitely want to put pressure on this quarterback, really affect his decisions."
The pressure might get to Winston early, but don't expect it to limit his production when it's all said and done.
|Cmp%||Pass Yards||TD/Int||Rush Yards||TD|
Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn
Auburn's No. 1 rushing attack is headlined by the two-headed monster of Nick Marshall and Tre Mason. But, before we get to Mason, let's focus on Marshall.
Marshall racked up 1,023 yards on the ground and 11 rushing touchdowns on the season. Compare that to his 1,759 passing yards and 12 passing touchdowns, and it's clear that Marshall isn't your typical quarterback. The read-option is his best friend, and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee has done a great job of putting Marshall in situations to succeed.
He'll have trouble against the Seminoles' aggressive defense, though. Rushing the ball in between the tackles will prove to be a struggle, and FSU's linebackers and defensive ends have the speed to catch up with him along the outside.
Passing the ball, Marshall will need to be crisp and limit mistakes. Establishing the run will be key in this regard. Setting up the play-action pass early on is of the utmost importance. Wideout Sammie Coates has big-play potential in the vertical passing game, but Marshall needs to get him the ball.
When the run game breaks down, Marshall might be forced to make more passes than he is accustomed to. That spells bad new for Auburn as well as Marshall's numbers.
|Cmp%||Pass Yards||TD/INT||Rush Yards||TD|
Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
Heisman finalist Tre Mason must post big numbers if his Auburn team is going to have a chance of keeping up with FSU's No. 1-ranked offense.
Mason is a workhorse, and there's no doubting the fact that he'll continue to run the rock—even if he's struggling. He told Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated, "I wasn't going to stop until the clock hit zero and we won; I wasn't tired. Even after the game, I was celebrating. I was happy. I probably could've went another game."
Even if his motor doesn't slow him down, the FSU defensive linemen will. Mason needs to be able to bump the ball outside to pick up yards. His frame won't allow him to run the ball through the teeth of a strong, fast FSU defense.
If Mason carries the ball 46 times like he did against Missouri in the SEC Championship Game, then there's a good chance he'll put up decent yards. His yards-per-carry average won't be very pretty, however, and Auburn is looking for consistent movement on the ground—not just yards.
Mason's numbers will either be great or terrible. There likely won't be a middle ground.