Five reasons FSU will win the BCS title game
Coach Jimbo Fisher said in August that he felt like Florida State was a complete football team. Fisher thought that the Seminoles would be very good on offense, defense and special teams.
He felt that Florida State would be balanced on offense, with the ability to both run and pass behind a veteran offensive line. He argued that the defense had depth and would fill the gaps after losing seven starters to the NFL. And that a redshirt freshman, Roberto Aguayo, could kick like a senior.
And he was right. Florida State went 13-0. The Seminoles routed four ranked opponents — Maryland, Clemson, Miami and Duke — by a combined 200-35 this season.
Florida State hasn’t just won, it has dominated opponents by an average of 42 points per game. No. 1 Florida State won’t just beat No. 2 Auburn on Monday night in the BCS championship game purely because it’s what the Seminoles have done all season.
The reason why Florida State will win is because it is the most complete team. There are no holes in this team. And the Seminoles will be able to minimize Auburn’s strength, the Tigers’ rushing attack. Florida State, with apologies to Alabama and the rest of the SEC, are the best defense that Auburn has faced in 2013.
Florida State has the defense that can keep Auburn from sustaining drives on the ground, and that’s crucial as the Seminoles attempt to win the program’s third national title (and first since 1999).
Here are five reasons Florida State will win the national title:
1. AUBURN WON’T RUN ON FSU’S DEFENSE
Auburn averages 335 rushing yards per game, leading the nation by pounding away at defenses. The Tigers also like to run it out of a hurry-up offense, giving a defense little time to substitute players.
But since allowing Boston College to accumulate 200 rushing yards on Sept. 28, Florida State’s defense has stuffed the run. The Seminoles held Miami to just 83 rushing yards, and Florida State also held Florida (78 rushing yards) and Duke (99 rushing yards) in check.
The Florida State defense (14th nationally against the run) will likely use man coverage on the Auburn wide receivers, freeing up the safeties to come down into the box in run support. And the Seminoles’ defensive ends, Christian Jones and Mario Edwards Jr., will monitor both edges as they read if Marshall will keep or pitch.
2. JAMEIS WINSTON, OF COURSE
Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston has been consistent all season. And now he’s facing one of the nation’s worst pass defenses, as Auburn has allowed 260 passing yards per game (ranking 104th amongst the 123 FBS teams).
Winston is completing 67.9 percent of his passes. And he has three receivers (Rashad Greene, Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin) that have each surpassed the 900-yard mark. The group combined has 29 touchdowns. Defenses have tried to focus on Greene late in the year only to watch Benjamin grab seven TDs in the last three games.
For Winston, it’s all about making good decisions and being patient in the pocket behind a veteran line as he looks for an open man. Winston has picked apart teams that have tried to blitz him. And he’s ripped defenses that tried to drop more defenders back into coverage. It will be interesting to see which option Auburn chooses.
3. FSU WILL HAMMER AUBURN ON THE GROUND
College football fans know plenty about Winston’s passing numbers. But the stat that speaks volumes about Florida State’s offense is this: the Seminoles have 41 rushing TDs and 40 passing TDs.
Florida State prefers not to have a primary back but instead rotates three tailbacks (Devonta Freeman, Karlos Williams and James Wilder Jr.) that have combined to accumulate 2,190 rushing yards. Running behind an offensive line that features a senior and four juniors, the trio has 32 touchdowns.
The Seminoles’ offense is best when there is a good run-pass balance. And with a rotation of three tailbacks, Florida State can hammer away at Auburn on the ground (the Tigers are middle-of-the-pack, 62nd nationally, in allowing 163 rushing yards per game). Florida State will want to shorten the game by keeping Auburn’s offense on the sideline (and rest the Seminoles’ defense). And if Florida State can average close to the 5.7 yards per carry it had in the first 13 games, the Seminoles will win.
4. FSU’S SECONDARY DEPTH
FSU feels like it has the best defensive backfield in the nation. The Seminoles have talent and depth from corners like Lamarcus Joyner, Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams to safeties like Terrence Brooks, Nate Andrews and Jalen Ramsey.
Just one receiver, Pittsburgh’s Devin Street, has surpassed 100 yards against Florida State (he had 141 yards back on Labor Day). Since then, Florida State has held Clemson’s Sammy Watkins to 68 receiving yards and Miami’s Allen Hurns to 84 receiving yards.
Florida State should do the same with Auburn sophomore Sammie Coates, who leads the nation with 22 receiving yards per catch. Coates has a knack for the big play, hauling in a 38-yard TD and a 54-yard pass in the SEC title game. He also had a 39-yard TD grab in the final minute to help Auburn beat Alabama as well as an 88-yard TD in the win over Arkansas.
Florida State will likely rotate corners, so expect to see Darby and Williams take turns lining up opposite Coates. Both Darby and Williams will give up a few inches to the 6-foot-2 Coates, but they are physical and have locked down receivers this season.
5. FSU HAS THE NATION’S BEST KICKER
Roberto Aguayo has a strong, accurate leg. The redshirt freshman, who won the Lou Groza Award that is presented to the nation’s top kicker, has made 19 of 20 field-goal attempts and all 90 extra-point attempts. His longest kick this season was a 53-yarder against Syracuse that would have been good from 60 yards.
Aguayo is already Florida State’s and the ACC’s single-season scoring leader. He’s only missed a 43-yard field goal at Wake Forest in early November.
If there’s one concern about Aguayo, it’s that he hasn’t had to make a pressure kick. Florida State has won every game by at least 13 points. But Aguyao is calm and confident, home or away, so the Seminoles feel comfortable no matter what the situation is — even in a tight situation.