BCS Championship 2014: Blueprint to Florida State Victory

Perry Kostidakis@perrykosContributor IJanuary 2, 2014

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 07:  Quarterback Jameis Winston #5 of the Florida State Seminoles celebrates on the field after defeating the Duke Blue Devils 45-7 in the ACC Championship game at Bank of America Stadium on December 7, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

It has been 14 years since Florida State last won a national championship and 13 since it last played in a title game. In those years, the Seminoles have experienced heartbreak, disappointment, letdowns and oh-so-closes. 

Now, they're 60 minutes away from finally bringing a crystal ball trophy back to Tallahassee. 

It won't be simple, however. They'll face an Auburn team that runs on opponents at will, that has pulled off miracle after miracle to keep its unbelievable season going. Tre Mason, the junior Heisman finalist, is one of the best running backs in the nation and is the spearhead of a rushing attack that ranks first in the country, as the Tigers are averaging 335.7 yards per game. 

FSU must be able to put points on the board in the same manner it has this season as the No. 2 scoring offense in the country. Auburn will inevitably score points, and to put it plain and simple, whoever scores the most points is going to win the football game. Hard-hitting stuff there. 

Exploit Auburn's defensive weakness

Florida State's offense versus Auburn's defense
Passing yards per gameRushing yards per gamePoints per game
Florida State322207.453
Passing yards allowed per gameRushing yards allowed per gamePoints allowed per game

Where the Seminoles need to attack the most is through the air, which is Auburn's biggest weakness on defense. The Tigers give up 260.2 passing yards per game, which is the 104th-worst mark in FBS football. Against two teams that have a similar level of talent at wide receiver as FSU, Texas A&M and Missouri, Auburn gave up 454 and 303 passing yards, respectively.

Here is Bleacher Report's Michael Felder showing how Auburn struggles on pass coverage, from his piece on Florida State's biggest X-factor for the big game.

"Auburn is no stranger to coverage issues," Felder writes. "Here, against Georgia, Chris Davis is lined up over tight end Arthur Lynch and the Tigers are going to play man coverage with one-high safety in the back-end."

CBS/Michael Felder

"Davis bites on the play action and instead of doing his job on Lynch, flows toward the line of scrimmage allowing the tight end to get a free run on the corner route. The result is a touchdown for the Bulldogs."

CBS/Michael Felder

Jameis Winston will look to exploit that by way of FSU's dynamic trio of receivers—Kelvin Benjamin, Kenny Shaw and Rashad Greene—in addition to tight end receiving threat Nick O'Leary, who is one of Winston's favorite targets. A&M's Mike Evans, who is similar to Benjamin in stature and playing style, had 287 yards and four touchdowns against Auburn, so if Winston can get going, it'll be a long day for the Tiger defense. 

Here is Evans against Auburn:

The counterpoint to Auburn's weakness in the secondary is that despite giving up all those yards through the air, it still managed to pull off wins against the Aggies and Tigers, due mostly to Auburn's amazing presence on the ground. 

Eliminate the rushing attack

For Florida State, the biggest step in securing a victory is stopping Auburn's run game, which serves as the lifeblood of Tiger football. The 'Noles have the 14th-best rush defense in the country, as opponents have rushed for only 116.5 yards against them. Interestingly, the first-string Florida State defense hasn't allowed a single rushing touchdown this year, which is a feat considering they played against top backs in Boston College's Andre Williams and Miami's Duke Johnson. 

Florida State's defense versus Auburn's offense
Passing yards allowed per gameRushing yards allowed per gamePoints allowed per game
Florida State164.7126.311
Passing yards per gameRushing yards per gamePoints per game

Bleacher Report's college football staff breaks down Florida State's defense versus Auburn's offense in the video below.

The key to stopping Auburn's running game is staying at home and being disciplined, something that the Tigers' opponents haven't been able to do consistently. Defensive ends Mario Edwards Jr. and Christian Jones will be essential in stopping the run, since they'll have to be able to combat the read option, something that Auburn is quite skilled in doing. 

Throw out the "Team of Destiny" narrative, the SEC vs. ACC plot line and even the strength of schedule argument. If Florida State can exploit Auburn's weakness in the secondary and play disciplined run defense, the Seminoles will be national champions.