Before the start of Monday night's Vizio BCS National Championship Game, it's tempting for people like myself—members of the hot take-desperate media—to issue a contrarian angle or argument, simply for the sake of doing so.
We've spent nearly a month gearing up for this game, after all. What good is telling you things you've already read or heard or watched? There's an attractive impulse to shatter the mold, an urge to say something fresh and new.
Let's not do that.
Jameis Winston has been the best player in college football this season, and really, it hasn't been all that close. He won the Heisman Trophy with ease—and should have won by even more—after throwing for 3,820 yards, 38 touchdowns and 10 interceptions as a redshirt freshman, leading Florida State to the only undefeated record in the country.
Auburn fans might argue that he's yet to play a quality defense, which is fair. Especially after watching the ACC's performance during bowl season, it's hard to defend the Seminoles' schedule, which might be what allowed for Winston's numbers. He hasn't been tested too often.
But who's to say he will on Monday night?
It's not like Auburn's defense has been an immovable object. Sure, it's come against five very good opponents—LSU, Texas A&M, Georgia, Alabama and Missouri—but the Tigers allowed more than 6.9 yards per play on five different occasions this season, including each of their last three games.
Say what you will about the Seminoles' competition, but there's little doubt that they belong in the same class as those offenses. Behind Winston, a veteran offensive line and the deepest stable of playmakers in the country, this group led the nation in Football Outsiders' offensive F/+ ratings, a stat that is adjusted for strength of opponent.
Pressure also doesn't seem to affect the redshirt freshman, despite his young age. Against Clemson in Memorial Stadium—FSU's biggest game to date, by far—Winston completed 22 of 34 passes for 444 yards and three touchdowns. That is how he fared in the biggest spotlight of his career, leading Florida State to a 51-14 rout of the eventual Orange Bowl champions.
He won't shrink away from the stage.
Beyond that, Winston got experience against a vaunted SEC defense this season, albeit one that was decimated by injury. Still, Florida finished with the 14th-best defense in America, according to Football Outsiders' F/+ ratings, so the Gators were far from a slouch.
Winston threw for 330 yards on just 19 completions, leading his team to an easy 45-7 win. Throw out that argument of "SEC speed."
"I still haven't reached my maximum goal," Winston said at his media day appearance, according to B/R's Barrett Sallee. "With all of the awards that an individual can receive, nothing is more important than hoisting up that crystal football with your team on that stage singing, 'We Are the Champions.'"
Like any good leader, Winston puts team goals over individual ones. But who's to say those things are mutually exclusive?
If Winston just plays like he has all season, he'll make Auburn's secondary look...well, like it has all season. If that's the case, it will work to the benefit of both his team and his own self, padding the line score just as quickly as the box score.
When it's all said and done, Winston will still be holding a crystal football on stage singing, "We Are the Champions."
It just won't be the only trophy he's holding.
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