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The BCS National Champioship: Florida State Seminoles vs. Auburn Tigers Pick-Odds-Prediction 1/6/14

Auburn Tigers (12-1) at Florida State Seminoles (13-0)

College Football: Monday, January 6, 2014 at 8:30 pm (Rose Bowl)

The Line: Florida State Seminoles -9.5 -- Over/Under: 65 See the Latest Odds


Storyline: The dreaded BCS will finally call it quits Monday after 16 contentious years in favor of a highly-anticipated playoff system next season, but not before one final offering and it looks to be a dandy, with #1 Florida State squaring off against #2 Auburn in Pasadena.

The Breakdown: Florida State’s road to the title may have been without its perils on the football field, but off it, 2013 was stained by the sexual assault allegations surrounding freshman QB Jameis Winston. For several weeks in December, while police officials decided whether or not to charge the eventual Heisman Trophy winner with the 2012 rape of a Florida State student, the Seminoles’ runaway season and Winston’s lock on the Heisman Trophy were in doubt. Winston was ultimately cleared and the cloud lifted. In spite of all the distractions, Florida State, produced maybe the most dominant results in major college football this season, outscoring opponents by an average of 53-10.7 and winning every game but one by at least 27 points. The Seminoles faced four ranked teams in #25 Maryland, #3 Clemson, #7 Miami and #20 Duke and absolutely pummeled them by a combined 200-35, including a 45-7 dismantling of Duke in the ACC Championship game.

The BCS National Champioship: Florida State Seminoles vs. Auburn Tigers  Pick-Odds-Prediction 1/6/14

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Seminoles are at or near the top of every statistical category, ranking 6th nationally in total yards per contest (529.4), 14th in passing yards (322.0), 23rd in rushing yards (207.4) and 1st in points scored per contest (53.0). Winston, the country’s 12th-ranked passer, completed 67.9 percent of his attempts for 3,820 yards, 38 TDs and 10 INTs. He’ll be joined in the backfield by junior RBs Devonta Freeman (943 YDs, 13 TDs) and Karlos Williams (705 YDs, 11 TDs), who’ve combined for 1,648 YDs and 24 TDs. At Winston’s disposal will be the stellar receiving trio of junior Rashad Greene (67 REC, 981 YDs, 9 TDs), Kelvin Benjamin (50 REC, 957 YDs, 14 TDs) and senior Kenny Shaw (52 REC, 929 YDs, 6 TDs). On the defensive side, Florida State brings the nation’s top-ranked scoring defense, allowing a measly 10.7 points per contest and its top-ranked passing defense, allowing 152.0 yards per, while leading the nation with 25 interceptions and also ranking among the best in rushing defense, allowing 93.0 yards per. Defensive standouts include senior LB Telvin Smith (75 Tkls, 3 INTs), CB Lamarcus Joyner (59 Tkls, 2 INTs and junior DT Timmy Jernigan (43 Tkls).

Auburn’s magical run, meanwhile, was littered with close calls and late-game heroics, including two impossible last second victories over Georgia and Alabama. The Tigers opened 2013 under first year head coach Gus Malzahn to lukewarm results, surviving a 31-24 scare against Washington State, despite surrendering 464 yards. Auburn followed with consecutive wins and needed a late touchdown to come out on top 24-20 against Mississippi State before dropping its only game of the season to LSU 35-21. The Tigers would bounce back to rattle off 9 straight, highlighted by two miraculous finishes. Against Georgia Nov. 16, a 73-yard Hail Mary fell into the waiting arms of sophomore WR Ricardo Louis on 4th and 18 with 25 seconds left to win the game in a play that looked like it might not ever be outdone. But it was in Auburn’s very next game against top-ranked Alabama when senior CB Chris Davis returned a missed Alabama field goal attempt 100 plus yards for the winning score as time expired. The Tigers closed a regular season overflowing with oohs and ahhs somewhat anticlimactically the following week with a 59-42 shootout victory over Missouri in the SEC title game.

 Auburn comes in behind the Noles in virtually every category, at least on paper, ranking 12th nationally in total yards per contest (505.3), 110th in passing yards per (169.6), 1st in rushing yards (335.7) and 9th in scoring offense per (40.2). They’re led by junior QB Nick Marshall (1,759 YDs, 12 TDs, 5 INTs), who struggled through the air quite a bit this season, actually going without a passing TD in four different outings, but poses a true dual threat and rushed for 1,023 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s joined in the backfield by Heisman Trophy finalist Tre Mason (1621, 22 TDs), the nation’s 9th-ranked rusher. The junior snuck into the Heisman race late in the season with 868 yards and 13 TDs in his final 5 games. Sophomore WR Sammy Coates (38 REC, 841 YDs, 7 TDs) is the team’s top target. Defensively,  the Tigers come in with the FBS’s 38th-ranked scoring defense, allowing 24.0 points per outing and senior DE Dee Ford (28 Tkls, 8.5 Sks) is among the team’s standouts.

Rick’s Pick: The line in this matchup is currently set at -9.5 for Florida State with a 65 point total. Despite the Noles’ standing as an offensive juggernaut, giving that many points to Auburn here seems risky, even if their run appears built more on luck than talent. And as cliché as it’s become, Florida State hasn’t faced an SEC caliber defense. The over looks like the safer play.

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