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No. 1 FSU, No. 2 Auburn play for BCS title Monday
By: Mark Kern - StatFox
Published: 1/6/2014  at  5:14:00 AM
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AUBURN TIGERS (12-1)

vs. FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (13-0)

BCS National Championship Game
Rose Bowl - Pasadena, CA
Kickoff: Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Line: Florida State -8.5, Total: 67.5

No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Auburn battle on Monday night for a chance to be crowned champions of college football in the BCS National Championship.

For many years the Seminoles were contending for national titles every single season, finishing among the top-five teams in the AP Poll 14 straight times from 1987 to 2000. During this run they won national titles in 1993 and 1999. After struggling to get back to that point the past few seasons, undefeated FSU is officially there. While Heisman Trophy-winning freshman QB Jameis Winston (38 pass TD, 10 INT) is the clear leader of a Seminoles offense that leads the nation with 53.0 PPG, he is part of a roster absolutely loaded with stars and future NFL players at every single position. The FSU defense has been equally as impressive, leading the nation in scoring defense (10.7 PPG). However, they will be challenged more than they ever have this season, as they go up against an explosive Tigers offense. Auburn, which is also seeking a third title, having won in 1957 and 2010, lead the nation with 335.7 rushing yards per game. Junior QB Nick Marshall (1,759 pass yards, 1,023 rush yards, 23 total TD) and junior RB Tre Mason (1,621 rush yards, 5.7 YPC, 22 TD) are the most electric rushing duo in the country. Both schools are 11-2 ATS this season, and both have multiple four-star betting trends in their favor for Monday's showdown. Florida State is 10-1 ATS in games played on grass fields this season, and teams (Auburn) allowing 37+ points in its previous game against an opponent (FSU) after two straight wins by 17+ points are just 39-85 ATS (32%) over the past five seasons. This season, the Tigers are 8-0 ATS versus good rushing teams (4.75+ YPC) and 10-1 ATS after an SU win. With neither team having played since Dec. 7, there are no major injuries to report. These two teams have reached this game in different ways. Florida State had big expectations going into this season, and in a weaker ACC, many experts thought they could reach this game. For Auburn, this title appearance was unexpected and improbable, with the Tigers pulling off two amazing last-minute victories over Georgia and Alabama.

Can Florida State complete a perfect season with a comfortable victory? For the answer, connect to College Football Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 regular season and bowl season. The four experts finished the regular season a collective 51.1% ATS (120-115-7) on college football Best Bets, led by StatFox Dave's stellar 57% ATS (35-25-2) mark. This included a 64% ATS (23-13-2) record in his final 11 weeks. StatFox Gary was 2-1 ATS in the final week to finish 53% ATS (21-19-1) in the regular season. Gary was 56% ATS (20-16-1) in college football Best Bets since Week 3. StatFox Brian also finished strong with a 3-1 ATS mark on Best Bets in Championship Week, giving him his fourth straight winning season of college football Best Bets at 52% ATS (33-30-1). StatFox Scott is looking to repeat a huge 2012-13 bowl season, when he posted a 71% ATS mark in Best Bets (5-2-1).

Auburn ranks 10th in the nation in scoring 40.7 PPG, but rank 107th among FBS teams with just 169.6 passing YPG. While they do not need to throw the ball very much, QB Nick Marshall (60.4% completions, 8.3 YPA, 12 TD, 5 INT) has proven he is a capable passer, and he has guys on the outside that can make the big play. Sophomore WR Sammie Coates (38 catches, 841 yards, 22.1 avg., 7 TD) has proven to be that type of player. He has five catches on the season of at least 50 yards, including an 88-yard touchdown grab against Arkansas on Nov. 2. Fellow sophomore WR Ricardo Louis (297 rec. yards, 2 TD) was the hero against Georgia when he caught a deflected Hail Mary for a 73-yard, game-winning touchdown with 25 seconds left. But make no mistake that this is a run-first offense in the triple read-option set, as both Marshall and RB Tre Mason have been running wild recently. Marshall has rushed for 503 yards (126 YPG) and 6 TD over his past four contests, while Mason has five straight 110-yard rushing efforts (174 rush YPG, 13 TD), including an amazing 304 rushing yards (6.6 YPC) in the SEC Championship. As good as the Tigers' offense has been this season, the defense (24.0 PPG, 37th in FBS) has had their struggles in the past three contests, allowing 36.0 PPG on 520 total YPG. For the season, this unit allows 164 rushing YPG on 4.6 YPC, and gives up 259 passing YPG on 7.4 YPA. The lack of takeaways has also hurt, as the team has eight games with 0 or 1 forced turnovers this season, including each of the past four contests. Senior CB Chris Davis (69 tackles, 13 PD) has been solid in the secondary, but will always be most remembered for his game-winning, 100+ yard return on the missed field goal in the Iron Bowl against Alabama. He and his teammates will certainly be challenged though, as the Seminoles boast the most complete offense in all of the country.

Not only does Florida State throw for 322 YPG (14th in nation), but it also runs for 207 YPG (23rd in FBS). QB Jameis Winston (68% completions, 3,820 pass yards, 11.0 YPA) proved to be the best player in the country this season, throwing multiple touchdowns in 12 of 13 games, and throwing for at least 225 yards in nine of his past 10 contests. But Winston didn't do it all alone, as he was helped by a plethora of stars on the offensive side of the ball. Junior WR Rashad Greene (67 catches, 981 yards, 9 TD) and sophomore WR Kelvin Benjamin (50 catches, 957 yards and 14 TD) are arguably the best one-two punch in the country at the wide receiver position. Benjamin is averaging 19.1 yards per reception and is nearly unstoppable over the middle of the field with his 6-foot-5, 234-pound frame. Junior RB Devonta Freeman is a star in his own right, rushing for 943 yards (5.8 YPC) and 13 TD. With junior RBs Karlos Williams (705 rush yards, 8.2 YPC, 11 TD) and James Wilder Jr. (542 rush yards, 6.9 YPC, 8 TD) also in the backfield, the Seminoles have the ability to really wear down their opponents. Any of these talented backs could rush for 1,500 yards and double-digit touchdowns in a season if given enough carries. The Seminoles defense has been outstanding this season, allowing a mere 269 total YPG. They give up just 117 rushing YPG on 3.2 YPC, and hold opposing quarterbacks to a 52% completion rate, 152 passing YPG and 4.9 YPA. FSU has also tallied at least two takeaways in eight straight contests, totaling 27 forced turnovers during this stretch. Senior DB Lamarcus Joyner (60 tackles, 5 sacks, 2 INT) is a star defensive back that has the ability to make plays against the run, as well as against the pass. Junior DT Timmy Jernigan (44 tackles, 4.5 sacks) is a monster on the defensive line at 292 pounds. He demands a double team on every single play, and will play a huge role in the whether or not the Seminoles will win a national championship.

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