Not even close: FSU will decimate Auburn

As the college football season winds to a close, I’d be remiss were I not to point out my brilliant analyses over the course of this year.

It started with my brilliant analysis on Oct 3, proclaiming that Maryland would be able to run at will against the Seminoles.

Next, I’m still waiting for Jimbo or someone from his staff to call me, thanking me for the letter I wrote to Stanford on Nov 6, asking them to kindly remove Oregon from the picture.  I get it...he’s been busy.  But after tonight, the clock is running.

Then came my Nov 9 nod to Brian Piccolo and Billy Dee Calrissian and this nugget about FSU quarterback, Jameis Winston:

“On the other hand, with Marcus Mariota and Teddy Bridgewater throwing out tepid numbers on Thursday and Friday, respectively, this could be a chance to showcase Jameis Winston and bolster his Heisman candidacy.”

Finally, I wrapped things up by simultaneously acknowledging and avoiding Winston’s legal troubles, all while showing off my really fabulous shoes.

And now it comes down to this:  The Florida State Seminoles versus the Legacy of Supremacy of the Southeastern Conference...er, I mean, Auburn Tigers for the National Championship of College Football of the World Forever and Ever Amen.

(Or, to quote the famously insolent Duane Thomas in an attempt to put the magnitude of tonight's game in perspective, "If it's the ultimate game, how come they're playing it again next year?")

But after all the hype, criminal non-charges, fantastic finishes, and crazy Bama Broads  (not even really that crazy, by Bama Broad standards), it really comes down to one thing:

Football.


And while dimwitted talking heads and sports Penmonkeys© (Copyright 2014, Chuck Wendig) are picking Auburn to make themselves look prescient (to wit[less]: here, here, and here), no one has done college football better this year than Florida State.

Of course there have been previous years when the undefeated, “best” team failed to produce in the big game but this Seminole team has the players, leaders, and most of all the game to close this year out with Jimbo and Jameis holding the crystal football.

Side note:  “Jimbo and Jameis” sounds like a vaguely racist buddy story from the 19th Century.  Or a bitchin’ name for a band.

But to quote Andre Romelle Young, back to the lecture at hand…

It’s no secret that Auburn (and their deluded supporters) have relied on the running game all season. Led by Tre Mason who ran for more than 1,600 yards this year, averaging 173.6 yards per game over his last five games (including 304 against Missouri in the SEC Championship tilt) and 22 TDs, Auburn was the nation’s no. 1 ranked rushing offense, averaging an outrageous 335.7 yards per game, a ridiculous 6.46 yards for each of their 676 carries.

But it wasn’t all about He, Himself, and Him (De La Soul/Maseo reference).  In addition to Mason, the Tigers had three other backs top 600 yards, led by junior quarterback Nick Marshall with 1,023.

The flip side is that the Auburn passing “attack” is something of an oxymoron.  The Tigers attempted only 258 passes on the season (less than 28% of the team’s plays from scrimmage) and ranked no. 107 in the FBS with fewer than 170 passing yards per game.

Some might call the Auburn offensive attack “old school,” relying on the run over the pass.  Others might call it imbalanced, with a 72-28% split run/pass.  But it has carried them to the final BCS Championship game so there’s that.

Defensively, Auburn ranked 62nd nationally, allowing 163.2 rushing yards per game.  They were 38th in scoring defense, allowing 24.0 points per game.

The bad news is that this is the good news.

Against the pass, Auburn was terrible, allowing 260.2 yards per game, “good” for a national ranking of 102.

Which brings us to the Florida State Seminoles…

Despite my dire—and, as it turns out, premature—predictions that the Noles couldn’t stop the run, Florida State ranked 13th in rush defense, allowing just 116.5 yards per game.  They proved that stopping the run was as easy as pi(e), allowing just 3.14 yards per carry for the season.

More importantly, whereas Auburn scored an astounding 46 TDs on the ground (as opposed to just 18 through the air…seven more than Florida which is irrelevant but still fun to rub in the faces of Gator fans), Florida State allowed just 5, fewest in the FBS and second only to North Carolina A&T’s 4 in all of Division I.

So all of this seem to point to an unstoppable force/immovable object Auburn rushing attack tonight.  They want to run and do it well.  The Noles stop the run well.  And while this might seem to be pretty much of a wash in relation to the game’s outcome, I think Auburn will be somewhat successful controlling the clock and moving the ball on the ground (somewhere around 190-200 yards).

Unfortunately there are no other arrows in the War Eagle quiver:
  • Auburn ranked 102 in passing yards allowed with 260.2 ypg.  The Noles passing attack was good for 14th nationwide at 322.0.
  • Auburn ranked 8th in scoring at just over 40 ppg.  The Noles were #1 in scoring defense, allowing just 10.7 ppg.
  • The Tigers ranked 38th in scoring defense, allowing 24 ppg.  Florida State was the #1 scoring team in FBS at 53.0 ppg.
  • Auburn was ranked 107th in passing yards per game with 169.8.  Florida State was the #1 pass defense, allowing just 152 ypg.

In other words, the numbers don’t look good for the Sawgrass boys in Pasadena tonight.

One other statistic of interest, though perhaps only to me.  Both teams were exceptional in the Red Zone, with Florida State finishing best in the nation and Auburn #8.  In 57 trips inside their opponents 20, the Tigers scored 36 rushing TDs and 6 passing TDs, for a RZ TD rate of 73.7%.  Overall, they scored on 51 of their 57 chances for a red zone scoring percentage of 89.5%.

The Noles, on the other hand, were out of this world.  On 69 trips (21% more trips than Auburn), Florida State scored 34 rushing TDs and 21 passing, for a RZ TD rate of 79.7%.  Overall, they scored on 67 of 69 trips for a red zone scoring percentage of 97.1.

Both numbers are incredible.  Kudos to both squads for getting through the door once they made it to the front porch.

OK…on to predictions for tonight’s game.

We have a “Team of Destiny” (Auburn) versus a team with statistical density (FSU).

But let’s not complicate this.  Aside from the numbers, the eyeball test gives you what you need.  Auburn had not one but two miracle finishes to make it this far.  Props to them but Florida State’s closest margin of victory this year has been two TDs (way back in September at Boston College).  Other than the BC game, Florida State’s average margin of victory has been 44.7 points per game, outscoring the 12 opponents (other than BC) 641-105.

In other words, they’re really, really good at football.

Tonight the Noles are laying 10.5 points to Auburn, with an over/under of 68.

Don’t listen to the hairspray/wide tie crowd from Bristol.  This one won’t be close.

Lay the 10.5 and take the under.

Final score:  Florida State 49, Auburn 17.

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