NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Saturday brought us the BCS Media day, which is a scaled down version of the circus they hold at the Super Bowl. The two teams, all 85-plus players, made their way inside the media hotel in front of the largest throng of media in attendance this week.
The biggest crowds were for FSU quarterback Jameis Winston and Auburn running back Tre Mason. The theme we have seen all week continued with regards to the game: FSU is here to finish and Auburn feels like the underdog.
One of the things I look at when evaluating a big game is the "X factors" and "Plan B." “X factors” are players that are not main weapons but shine in the spotlight. “Plan B” is the adjustment or complimentary aspect of one team's game.
In this game, much has been made of Auburn's ground game and FSU’s passing game. But what about the other half of each offense? For Auburn it’s the passing game and for Florida State it’s the running game.
In the last seven games Nick Marshall has eight touchdown passes and just one interception. The Seminoles defense is very cognizant of his arm strength.
Auburn will have to try and shut down an FSU ground game that was third in the ACC with 207 yards per game. Florida State had 41 rushing touchdowns this season and to put that in perspective, just look at Auburn. The Noles almost had as many as the Tigers, who registered 46.
The FSU defense has scored eight times this season. The secondary has produced five interceptions for touchdowns but knows it will see limited opportunities in this game. Marshall averages just 17.7 attempts per game but did have a season high 34 attempts in a huge early-season, come-from-behind win over Mississippi State.
Auburn had six non-offensive scores this season, which is among the best in the country. Everyone remembers the Chris Davis return in the Iron Bowl, but the Tigers were one of five teams nationally to return a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown in a game this season.
This and that
- Tackling in space has been the common theme among FSU defensive players. When I asked them who they should shut down first Mason or Marshall they repeatedly said Auburn has too many weapons to focus on just one.
- Most of the Seminoles’ players are chomping at the bit to go play, but senior defensive back LaMarcus Joyner said every day is precious to prepare for Auburn. He said they could have a year to prepare and it would still be tough on their defense.
- Auburn assistant coach Dameyune Craig has an interesting perspective on Florida State’s quarterback. Craig was on the staff at FSU last season. He left to work for Gus Malzahn and the school he played for in college. Craig had high praise for Winston and said he believed he was ready to play last season and could have avoided taking a red shirt.
- Florida State has a 15 game winning streak and Auburn's is at nine. The Tigers streak is tied for the ninth longest in school history.
Quote of the Day from Auburn's Kiehl Frazier: "The California girls are better looking than the girls in Alabama.”