2014 BCS National Championship Picks: Auburn vs. Florida State Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 1/3/2014
The BCS is dead after this game. I may have little company on this, but I am going to miss it when it’s gone, and I’m not yet convinced that the playoff is a miracle solution that will make the world a better place. As the BCS dies, it certainly is going out with a bang. Three games have been played so far, and they have all had two things in common — they have been great games, and they have all ended with upset winners. In two cases, those winners have been shocking. Here’s hoping that the National Championship Game is every bit as good as the Rose, Fiesta and Sugar bowls have been.
2014 BCS National Championship Game Auburn vs. Florida State Betting Storylines
Florida State QB Jameis Winston comes into this game fresh off a Heisman win and all the attention that comes with it. A while ago, the storyline would have been that the distraction of the award could negatively impact his game here. From 2000-08, Heisman winners went just 2-9 in their bowl games, including just 1-6 in National Championship Games. In the last four years, though, that trend has reversed. Starting with Mark Ingram, the last four winners have all won their games, and they have all performed well doing it. Johnny Manziel was a redshirt freshman last year like Winston is this year, but his youth was clearly not a bowl game factor — he ran for 229 yards and two touchdowns against Oklahoma while passing for almost 300 more. It was an epic outing.
When you look at these teams statistically, what stands out above all else is the Florida State defense. It’s just plain impressive — the best in the country by most measures. Only one team — Boston College — scored more than 17 points against the Seminoles, and though they scored 34 points, the last 14 came after the game was essentially decided. While it is easy to be impressed, there are two factors for Auburn that could make this interesting. First, Auburn is the best team that Florida State has seen. Only Clemson comes close, but these Tigers are considerably better than those ones in my eyes. This will be a test unlike Florida State has seen — both in terms of personnel and, more importantly, in creativity and discipline of system. Second, in their last regular season game the Tigers faced the second-best scoring defense in the country in Alabama, and they blew it up, running on the Tide like no one had even imagined possible. Auburn is not going to be intimidated by the challenge in front of them.
Auburn has had a wild ride to get here. The game against Alabama featured easily the most shocking conclusion of any game this season. Their win over Georgia the week before featured an ending almost as odd. Those two wins plus an unexpected berth — and win — in the SEC Championship Game mean that this team has had a very emotional end to their season. Given a few weeks off, it is certainly possible that the weight of their journey could start to bear down on the team and that as a result they could suffer a letdown. On top of that, coach Gus Malzahn has been mentioned for other jobs — most recently and aggressively in the NFL with Cleveland and others — and there is always a chance that that could be a distraction heading into this game. Florida State’s coach Jimbo Fisher put any rumors of his departure to rest by signing his new contract, and the emotional letdown is far less of a concern for the team. I’m far from convinced that either team will struggle mentally, but if one does, it is very likely to be Auburn.
2014 BCS National Championship Game Auburn vs. Florida State Odds and Betting Trends
The Seminoles are a fairly heavy favorite in this one — they are currently giving up 8.5 points. Nearly 60 percent of bets have come in on the Tigers, though, so the public isn’t jumping on the favorite like they often do. The total opened at 65, and it has edged up to 67.5 in most spots. It can be found as high as 68.
Florida State has gone “under” the total in their last five neutral-site games and last four bowl games. Auburn is 7-0 ATS in their last seven games against teams with winning records and 11-1 ATS in their last 12 games overall. The teams have not played each other since 1990, so head-to-head trends are meaningless. For the record, though, Florida State has covered three of the last four meetings, and all four of those went under the total.
2014 BCS National Championship Picks: Auburn vs. Florida State Predictions
It seems to be the year of the upset. I was going to be on Auburn anyway, but that’s another nod in their favor. Florida State has been very impressive, but this is a lot of points to give up to a very good and battle-tested team like Auburn, and I don’t have complete faith that the Seminoles will be as dominant here as they have been in other spots. Gus Malzahn is going to be very creative, and Auburn could be the first team to put the Seminoles on their heels this year. Auburn is the pick in a game that should be very good.
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