The Auburn Tigers, this year's Southeastern Conference representative, will have their hands full when they face off against No. 1 Florida State and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston in the BCS National Championship Game.
A prolific offense has to have a prolific quarterback, and that's exactly what head coach Jimbo Fisher has in his redshirt freshman quarterback. Winston threw for 3,820 yards and 38 touchdowns while leading the nation's most high-powered offense (53 points a game) to an undefeated record.
While it appears that Florida State has the upper hand when the two teams play in Pasadena, Calif., it'll need to limit the nation's best rushing offense if it wants any chance of taking home the national title crown. An offense that has made head coach Gus Malzahn look like the Merlin of college football.
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After Auburn won the 2011 BCS National Championship, Malzahn, then the offensive coordinator of the Tigers, bolted for a head coaching job at Arkansas State. Without Malzahn at the helm, Auburn struggled. In 2012 the Tigers went 3-9 and then head man Gene Chizik was fired. Malzahn filled the coaching vacancy and led the Tigers back to the promised land in his first season as head coach.
However, without extremely talented running backs and a powerful offensive line, Malzahn's offense would be nothing. But that's not the case. Instead, he has the running skills of quarterback Nick Marshall and Heisman finalist Tre Mason to utilize.
Both Mason and Marshall rushed for over 1,000 yards this season, including a combined 405 yards and five touchdowns against Missouri in the SEC Championship Game.
The No. 1 rushing team in the nation doesn't try to hide its running intentions. Just ask the guy who's scouted it for the past month: Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.
"They've done an outstanding job over the course of the year," Pruitt told Elton Hayes of the Tuscaloosa News. "They've been really stubborn about it. They're going to run the football. Everybody knows they're going to run the football, and you've got to be able to stop them.”
The best thing the Tigers can do is run the football, take time off the clock and keep Winston and the Seminoles offense on the sideline. If Florida State can stop the Tigers, it'll most likely have something to do with its do-it-all linebacker, Telvin Smith.
The senior linebacker has done everything for Pruitt's defense this year. Smith leads Florida State's defense in tackles and interceptions, and is also third on the team in sacks.
Florida State has the talent, and speed, across the board to get a couple stops on defense and get the ball back to its high-scoring offense. Auburn will score, and Mason will get his yardage. However, it'll be Florida State in the end that takes home the national title in Pasadena.