BCS National Championship: Keys to Seminole success

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Jameis Winston and Florida State look to complete a perfect season against Auburn. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Florida State faces Auburn for Sears Trophy

With a school-record 13 wins, the Seminoles of Florida State need just one more to claim their first national championship in 14 years and third overall. To get that done, top-ranked Florida State will need to beat #2 Auburn in the BCS National Championship in Pasadena, California on Monday. At 13-0, Florida State has not played a game decided by fewer than 14 points and defeated Duke 45-7 in the ACC Championship its last time out. Florida State however, is just 1-2 all-time in BCS title games.

Auburn comes in with a record of 12-1 after knocking off Missouri 59-42 in the SEC Championship. The Tigers were one of the more remarkable stories in college football after going just 3-9 a season ago and 0-8 in SEC play. Auburn will be looking for its second national championship in four years while aiming to make it eight straight titles for the SEC and five straight for the state of Alabama. While Florida State has breezed through its schedule, six of Auburn’s 12 wins were one-score games. Auburn also had two of the more miraculous victories of the season beating both Georgia and Alabama in the game’s waning moments.

The meeting between the schools will be the first since 1990. The Tigers won that contest 20-17 at Jordan Hare Stadium, but Florida State held off Auburn 13-7 in the 1989 Sugar Bowl — the last bowl match-up between the schools. FSU will look to improve to 4-0 in bowl games under head coach Jimbo Fisher and for that to happen, here are Monday’s keys to Seminole success:

Make Nick “Marshal”l a passing attack
The Florida State defense will be facing the top-ranked rushing offense in America on Monday led by running back Tre Mason and quarterback Nick Marshall. The Tigers are averaging 335 yards-per-game on the ground and for Florida State to be successful, it must force Auburn into obvious passing downs and Marshall to beat the Seminoles with his arm. Few teams have been able to slow the Auburn attack in recent weeks, but for Florida State to win the national championship, it will have to. FSU will need a big game up front from interior linemen Timmy Jernigan, Nile Lawrence-Stample and Jacobbi McDaniel. If the Seminoles can force Marshall to throw, the opportunity to force turnovers should be there for a secondary that leads the country with 25 interceptions on the season.

A Wins”ton” of passing yards
The Auburn secondary has been far from stellar this season giving up big passing days to Georgia’s Aaron Murray, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Alabama’s A.J. McCarron and Missouri’s James Franklin. FSU’s Jameis Winston may be the best quarterback that the Tigers have seen this season and Florida State will need to push the issue down the field all night long. With a trio of wide receivers that includes senior Kenny Shaw, junior Rashad Greene and sophomore Kelvin Benjamin, the Seminoles are a match-up nightmare for Auburn’s secondary. If Winston can take of the football and the offensive line can keep him upright, Monday has the opportunity to be a big night for the Florida State aerial attack.

Your turn, not mine
The turnover battle could be a huge game-shifter on Monday night and the team that best takes care of the football may earn the victory. Florida State has been stellar when it comes to protecting the ball all season long although the Seminoles did commit a season-high three turnovers against Duke in their last game. Against Auburn’s potent ground attack, Florida State cannot afford to give the ball back to the Tigers and let them work on the clock and pound away at the FSU defensive front. If the Seminoles can hang onto the ball, they should have a very good chance of claiming a third national championship.

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