SEC

BCS Championship Game preview

Updated: 2014-01-06T04:58:32Z

When/where: 7:30 tonight in Pasadena, Calif.

TV/radio: ESPN; WHB (810 AM)

The series: Auburn leads 13-4-1

The line: Florida State by 10

FLORIDA STATE (13-0, 8-0 ACC)

Date Opponent Result
Sept. 2at PittsburghW, 41-13
Sept. 14NevadaW, 62-7
Sept. 21Bethune-CookmanW, 54-6
Sept. 28at Boston CollegeW, 48-34
Oct. 5MarylandW, 63-0
Oct. 19at ClemsonW, 51-14
Oct. 26N.C. StateW, 49-17
Nov. 2Miami (Fla.)W, 41-14
Nov. 16SyracuseW, 59-3
Nov. 23IdahoW, 80-14
Nov. 30at FloridaW, 37-7
Dec. 7DukeW, 45-7

AUBURN (12-1, 7-1 SEC)

Date Opponent Result
Aug. 31Washington StateW, 31-24
Sept. 7Arkansas StateW, 38-9
Sept. 14Mississippi StateW, 24-20
Sept. 21at LSUL, 35-21
Oct. 5MississippiW, 30-22
Oct. 12Western CarolinaW, 62-3
Oct. 19at Texas A&MW, 45-41
Oct. 26Florida AtlanticW, 45-10
Nov. 2at ArkansasW, 35-17
Nov. 9at TennesseeW, 55-23
Nov. 16GeorgiaW, 43-38
Nov. 30AlabamaW, 34-28
Dec. 7MissouriW, 59-42

Florida State

•  RUNNING GAME: Devonta Freeman leads the Seminoles with 943 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, but there’s a committee sense to the effort. Karlos Williams has rushed for 705 yards and 11 touchdowns, and James Wilder Jr. has 542 yards with eight touchdowns. The Seminoles average 5.7 yards per rush.

•  PASSING GAME: He’s a redshirt freshman, but Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston showed amazing poise and threw 38 touchdown passes. Auburn is vulnerable here. Remember the 99-yard touchdown bomb by Alabama? Opponents averaged 260 yards passing against the Tigers.

•  WHAT TO WATCH: Winston. The game revolves around him.

Auburn

•  RUNNING GAME: This is the Tigers’ big edge. Auburn averages 336 yards per game, and featured back Tre Mason, who moved into Heisman contention late in the season, leads the SEC in rushing at 124 yards per game. Florida State is tough up front, and has surrendered only five rushing touchdowns.

•  PASSING GAME: Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall has done a superb job in his first year in the program. The Tigers play it safe with him. Florida State has put teams in passing situations often, and it tops the nation with 25 interceptions, with 16 players getting at least one.

•  WHAT TO WATCH: Auburn has to control the ball and clock to win.

Special teams

•  AUBURN: Chris Davis got plenty of attention for his field-goal return from deep in the end zone against Alabama, but he’s a terrific punt returner, ranking second in the nation at 20.1 yards. Punter Steven Clark of Park Hill High is solid.

•  FLORIDA STATE: Kicker Robert Aguayo won the Lou Groza Award by making 19 of 20 field goals. Kermit Whitfield averages 34.4 yards per kickoff return.

Prediction

Coaches Jimbo Fisher and Gus Malzahn are here for the first time, so there is no experience edge. Auburn emerged from a better conference, one that has won seven straight BCS titles. But the Seminoles have more balance on offense and an edge on defense. Florida State wins 38-30.

| Blair Kerkhoff, bkerkhoff@kcstar.com

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