|AP Photo/Bob Leverone|
|QB Jameis Winston's Seminoles are favored to win the BCS title game.|
Who will win Monday's BCS championship game and why?
FSU too talented for AuburnThis is going to be a very good game. Auburn's physical rushing attack will be effective against an undersized FSU front seven. I also expect Nick Marshall to hit a few big plays down the field against a very aggressive Noles secondary. Auburn could put up 30 points in this game, but I still don't think it be enough against Jameis Winston's offense. The depth of skill-position talent at Florida State will prove too much for the Tigers. FSU 42, Auburn 34. Kelvin Benjamin is the MVP of the game.
Noles' defense will be differenceFlorida State, and it's because of the Seminoles' defense. Auburn's rushing attack has been nearly unstoppable, but Florida State has the stout DT in Timmy Jernigan that you need to begin to slow down a run-first team.
I like FSU's chances to slow Auburn's offense down more than I like Auburn's chances to slow down Florida State's offense.
Auburn is team of destinyAt some point I have to recognize, when it comes to Auburn, things are just going in a direction that can't be stopped. While I opted to tab Florida State as BCS champions in our initial bowl predictions, after watching Blake Bortles and UCF defeat Baylor, seeing Bob Stoops make good on his bold preseason proclamation about the SEC's weakness in a victory over Alabama, and Michigan State out "Stanford" Stanford, I'm going in the opposite direction. Nick Marshall, Tre Mason, and specifically Gus Malzahn are on a ride that will ultimately end with them holding up a crystal ball. Malzahn will complete one of the most remarkable coaching jobs in the history of college football in the BCS era, taking the Tigers from a three-win team (zero in conference) to national champions. While we might not like the idea that the SEC has won the last seven, soon to be eight, titles, it's the reality of the football world where we reside. I'll leave the position-by-position analysis for the scouts, I'm going with Mr. Momentum.
Tigers have one more upset in themIn a close but high-scoring game, Auburn finds a way to pull the upset and bring the BCS era to a close with the SEC's eighth consecutive national title. As good as FSU is, a light Seminoles schedule hasn't prepared them for the best rushing attack they will have seen all season. Tre Mason and Nick Marshall will move the chains with enough consistency to keep the Tigers close early, and you can expect Gus Malzahn to pull a trick play or two out of his bag as well. Jameis Winston will do his damage, but unlike FSU's defense, Auburn's has already seen and beaten the quarterback likes of Aaron Murray, Johnny Manziel and AJ McCarron. When AU's offensive line finds its rhythm, the 'Noles' defense is in for the bigger shock. Auburn 38, FSU 31.
Auburn's defense not up to taskAll the focus on Auburn's prolific rushing attack (No. 1 in the nation at 335.7 yards per game) has overshadowed the Tigers' weak defense (89th nationally at 423.5 yards per game). The Tigers' pass defense is especially rancid (102nd nationally, 259.3 yards per game). Auburn is going to have success on the ground against Florida State, just not what it is used to. And unfortunately for Auburn, its secondary is going to get strafed by FSU QB Jameis Winston and his deep receiving corps. FSU WRs Kelvin Benjamin and Rashad Greene, especially, should be ready to get on the field and wreak havoc. Auburn has been extremely lucky this season, winning four games (Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama) in the final 1:19, three in the final 25 seconds, two in the final 10 seconds and one on the final play. The luck runs out in Pasadena unless Auburn can find a way to force at least three FSU turnovers.
FSU has the edgeFlorida State has two significant edges that will make the difference in the final BCS championship -- its offensive balance between the run and the pass with superior athleticism at wide receiver and its versatility in the secondary to force the Tigers into uncomfortable situations. Kelvin Benjamin (6-foot-5, 234 pounds), Rashad Greene, Kevin Shaw and tight end Nick O'Leary can spread out the Auburn defense and create favorable matchups on the ground, while defensive backs Lamarcus Joyner and freshman Jalen Ramsey can bring pressure from the back end or use their coverage skills to allow the Seminoles to put an extra safety in the box. Those advantages will make the difference and allow Florida State to pull away in the second half.
Florida State 41, Auburn 31.