BCS Championship 2014: Players to Watch in Florida State vs. Auburn Clash

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2014

Dec 7, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Auburn Tigers running back Tre Mason (21) celebrates after a touchdown against the Missouri Tigers during the fourth quarter of the 2013 SEC Championship game at Georgia Dome. Auburn won 59-42. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 1 Florida State Seminoles and the No. 2 Auburn Tigers will do battle at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., on Monday, Jan. 6, at 8:30 p.m. ET to determine which team is crowned champion before the BCS takes a bow.

Big names such as Heisman winner Jameis Winston are obvious ones to watch. The Florida State quarterback, along with Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, is a player who will most impact the outcome of the game.

But there are a few other weapons to keep a close eye on in the contest, as they contain game-breaking ability. The bowl season has been anything but predictable, so one of the following names may take control in what should be a shootout.


Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State

TALLAHASSEE, FL - NOVEMBER 23: Devonta Freeman #8 of the Florida State Seminoles runs to score a long touchdown against the Idaho Vandals during the first half at Doak Campbell Stadium on November 23, 2013 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Gammons/G
Jeff Gammons/Getty Images

Winston is backed by Devonta Freeman, whose production all year helped keep defenses honest.

The junior rushed for 943 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2013 but also caught 19 passes and turned it into 257 yards and another touchdown.

The NFL has its eyes on Freeman should he declare for the 2014 draft, as Rotoworld's Josh Norris explains:

Believe the hype. Freeman has been held back a bit this season, as he had five games with less than 10 carries. Eight saw him carry the rock less than 15 times.

Expect Freeman to see an uptick in opportunities as the Seminoles look to keep the Tigers offense off the field. Freeman is more than capable of having a big day in a coming-out party of sorts.


Tre Mason, RB, Auburn

Flip to the other side of the running back matchup, where Auburn's Tre Mason is a bit more nationally known than Freeman.

While Marshall was Auburn's second-leading rusher with 1,023 yards and 11 scores, much of his success depends on Mason's ability to find room. Mason did just that as a workhorse with 283 carries for 1,621 yards and 22 touchdowns.

That ability to keep defenses on their toes is what Mason says allows the Tigers offense to be so formidable, per Kareem Copeland of the Associated Press:

I feel like we're pretty good at what we do, and that's what got us here. That's our edge, running our plays at a fast pace, and a very high tempo. We feel like that's our edge, getting the ball snapped before they're even ready or realize. When we play that fast, I feel like it's hard for them to determine where the ball is at.

Mason leads the nation's No. 1 rushing attack, which averages 335.7 yards per game. His 46 carries for 304 yards and four scores in the SEC Championship Game against the Missouri Tigers put him on the map, but now Mason has a chance to steal the spotlight on the biggest stage of them all.


Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

Dec 7, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; Florida State Seminoles wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (1) breaks free for a touchdown as Duke Blue Devils cornerback Ross Cockrell (6) defends in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-U
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

While only Florida State's second-leading receiver behind Rashad Greene, sophomore Kelvin Benjamin is the piece that allows the Seminoles offense to churn consistently.

Standing at 6'5" and 234 pounds, Benjamin is a rare breed of physicality and speed that is nearly impossible to stop at the collegiate level.

Benjamin caught just 50 passes in 2013, but they translated to 957 yards and 14 touchdowns—with an average of 19.1 yards per catch. The definition of an elite weapon, Benjamin has recorded four games with multiple touchdowns—three of which have come in his last three games.

Against an Auburn defense that allows an average of 24 points per game, Benjamin is in for another massive performance and is a sure thing to garner national attention before he potentially takes his talents to the next level.


Follow Chris_Roling on Twitter