It’s been an incredible college football season thus far, and we’ve got just one game left before a new champion is crowned. The final champion of the BCS era.
No. 1 Florida State comes in at a perfect 13-0, dominating each and every team put in front of them as quarterback Jameis Winston won the school’s third Heisman trophy and brought the swag back just like he promised on Labor Day.
No. 2 Auburn comes out of the vaunted SEC thanks to a pair of improbable victories that highlighted an even more unexpected turnaround for a program that seemed lost just a year ago.
The Seminoles are averaging 53 points per game this season (best in the nation), thanks to a balanced attack that averages 322 yards passing and 207 yards rushing per game. Auburn’s defense is allowing 423.5 yards of total offense per game, including 260 yards passing (108th in the country).
The only real silver-lining for the Tigers defense is that while they give up tons of yards per game, teams are only averaging 24 points per game (38th best in the nation) thanks to its redzone defense. Of the 48 redzone opportunities Auburn has allowed this season, its opponents have scored just 23 touchdowns (16 rush, 7 pass) and settled for 11 field goals.
The match-up that will truly determine the next champion is the Seminoles’ run defense against Auburn’s rushing attack. FSU has allowed just five (FIVE!) rushing touchdowns this season and an average of 116.5 yards per game (13th in the country).
Meanwhile Auburn leads the nation in rushing with an average of 335.7 yards per game and have scored 45 rushing touchdowns this season. Hesiman finalist Tre Mason has run for 1,621 yards and 22 touchdowns, while quarterback Nick Marshall racked up 1,023 yards and 11 touchdowns.
This game will all come down to the Seminoles defensive line being able to control the point of attack for Auburn. Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan is fourth on the team with 54 tackles, including 10.5 for loss. But it’s defensive end Mario Edwards who will be charged with setting the edge.
The only team that had any success rushing the ball against FSU was Boston College, who racked up 200 yards on the ground. Edwards did not play against the Eagles and senior Christian Jones was playing linebacker instead of end. Since Edwards’ return and Jones’ switch, no team has had success rushing the ball against FSU, but the Seminoles haven’t faced anyone committed to running the ball like Auburn is.
Edwards doesn’t have monster stats (22 tackles and 6.5 for loss) but he could have the biggest impact of any Seminole defender in Pasadena Monday night.
Prediction: Well that’s enough of looking at the numbers and Xs and Os of the matchup, now it’s time to make a prediction. I think that Auburn’s rushing attack will be able to move the ball initially but Jeremy Pruitt and the Seminoles’ defensive staff have shown an incredible ability to adjust so far this season.
I don’t see Auburn’s defense being able to give Winston and receivers Rashad Greene, Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw much resistance.
That’s why I’m going with a Florida State victory, 38-24 over Auburn.