2014 National Championship Preview

national_championshipThe BCS National Championship is reaching an end as this year will be the last year of the BCS as we know it. The rankings that were established in 1997 will be thrown out for what many believe to be a more fair system. The BCS has always come under fire for the way that they pick the top teams in the nation to face off in the National Championship. The system would rely on a computer to determine rankings based on polls, strength of schedule, strength of victory, and a host of other factors. More times than not the strength of schedule would become one of the biggest factors and teams that may have one loss but played better teams would move ahead of the undefeated. For many the system would benefit the one conference that they did not want to see in the National Championship. Through the BCS years the Southeastern Conference has risen to become one of the most powerful conferences in the NCAA. They would claim the first champion in the BCS era but they would not reach their full potential until 2006 when the conference became a powerhouse. That 2006 championship would see Florida beat Big Ten champions and masters of the old guard Ohio State. The win would mark the first in a run of 7 straight National Championships for the conference. With more ranked teams than any other conference the SEC has taken full advantage of having a tougher conference schedule, despite having weak non-conference schedules, to earn their spots in the National Championship games. From their they would take control with an almost perfect record, the first and only championship loss would come against another SEC opponent. They have proven to be a tough opponent in the National Championship and this year they will make yet another appearance in the National Championship. The Auburn Tigers will be the SEC representatives this year as they look to carry the torch after a year that almost saw no SEC team make the National Championship. The Tigers have some experience in this game as they would win the championship in 2010 when they beat the Oregon Ducks. The Tigers will carry the weight of the SEC and their streak into the championship with a more than capable team but will have to take on a team representing an up and coming conference. The Florida State Seminoles will represent the ACC with an opportunity to show that they are ready to take control of the NCAA. It has been a long run for the SEC in the BCS and the ‘Noles are looking to end it and give the BCS system an end to remember. Next year a playoff system will be established with a selection committee made up of athletic directors from the power conferences, coaches, administrators, players, and other athletic directors. They will select the top four teams and place them in semifinal bowl games that will determine the National Championship game. It is the end of an era and whether you are a fan or a skeptic it was a good run with some great games and in 2014 another final chapter will be written as everyone hopes the book is closed with a great story.

 

Florida State Seminoles

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It is an oddly familiar story this year and one that played out in Texas last year although with a bit of a different result. The Seminoles would sit around 10th in the preseason polls with a promising team set to possibly make the BCS. Then came along a Redshirt Freshman by the name of Jameis Winston and the ‘Noles were on their way to greatness. In the first game of the season and of Winston’s NCAA career Winston would throw 4 TDs and over 350 yards against the Pitt Panthers. It was an announcement for the season to come but Winston would not get true recognition until he took on a top team in primetime and continued his dominance. The Seminoles would be set to face the Clemson Tigers on national TV giving Winston a chance to show the nation what he could do against a team a lot of people thought could challenge for a National Championship. Against that team Winston would throw for 444 yards and 3 TDs putting the Seminoles near the top of the rankings and making Winston an instant Heisman candidate. A freshman coming out of nowhere to captivate the NCAA is becoming a habit as Johnny Manziel would do it last year. There is a difference though as Manziel would not help his team to a National Championship while Winston would. There is a difference in their teams as well with Winston being the focal point but not the best part of this team. The defence has been one of the best in the nation this year with the most interceptions in the NCAA and the least points allowed per game. Manziel would not have this behind him as it all relies on the young QB but in Florida State the Heisman winner has plenty of support if he makes mistakes, which he has in the past. All eyes will be on Jameis Winston in the National Championship as he has had a season to remember but this team is a lot more than one player. The Seminoles are a team that has a solid base and does a lot well. When they need a spectacular play they can get it from their young QB. The Seminoles will also be carrying the hopes of many NCAA fans that live outside of the Southeast along with their Florida fans. The SEC has ruled this game in the last 7 years and the Seminoles are hoping that they can be the ones to break the streak. When a team puts together a year where they allow the least amount of points per game and score the most that is a special year. They are hoping to take it into the National Championship and beat the Auburn Tigers who are looking more and more like a team of destiny, a destiny that the Seminoles are trying to end at the SEC Championship.

 

Strength:
Defence
– They are the top ranked defence in the NCAA and everyone knows that defence wins championships as they will make up for some mistakes from Jameis Winston and give him time to warm up and get hot against the Tigers

Weakness:
Inexperience
– Jameis Winston has gone from redshirting to leading the top team in the country into the National Championship and his nerves will be there as he showed in the ACC championship when he started the game with two INTs but all he needs is time to calm down

Player to Watch:
Jameis Winston, QB
– He is the Heisman Trophy winner and only the second freshman to win the award as he looks to make a bigger impression at the end of the year but will the fact that he has never been in anything this big effect him too much to win the game?

Auburn Tigers

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The Tigers would start the season hoping that they could have something to say about their rivals making another run. Unranked to start the season Auburn was going to have to battle to get to this point and when they took on their first big opponent they would show that they were not ready for that battle. A loss to LSU in week 4 was a dagger for the Tigers as a loss to one of the best did not bode well for the rest of their schedule. The Tigers would not quite though and as the season went on they would begin to build up a head of steam. After the loss to LSU the Tigers would begin winning and would continue to do so as they moved up the conference standings and the BCS rankings. They would get recognition late but would get it in a massive way. In a game against Georgia the Auburn hot streak seemed to be coming to an end. With 25 seconds left the Tigers were faced with a 4th and 18 staring at a scoreboard that read 38-36 Georgia. Then Nick Marshall would throw a last-ditch Hail Mary that would go right towards the Georgia defence as the season was over. But the Georgia defence would not catch the ball as it would instead bounce into the air and right into the hands of Auburn receiver Ricardo Louis who would haul in the 73-yard TD pass that would give the Tigers the win and continue their title hopes. The miracles would not end there though as the very next week the Tigers would play a tight battle in the Iron Bowl against the Alabama Crimson Tide. With time running down in the fourth quarter and the game tied at 28 the Tide would go for a last second field goal in an attempt to win while if they didn’t make it they would go to overtime. The field goal would miss and Alabama began preparing for overtime but Chris Davis had caught the missed field goal in the endzone and was returning it. He would return it 109 yards for the last second TD that gave them the win and a berth in the SEC Championship, which they would win against Missouri in a less thrilling affair. The Tigers seem like they can’t lose as they have won in the most improbable ways possible to get here. Now they hold the hopes of the SEC in the 8th straight National Championship appearance for the SEC. The Tigers are a great running team with Tre Mason emerging at the end of the season but their passing game needs a lot of work. Their defence is good but it is not great as they rank among the top 40 in points allowed but have shown that they will allow points. Still with only really one aspect of their team firing the Tigers seem to be that team that somehow figures out how to win games and they hope that continues in the National Championship.

 

Strength:
Rushing Offence
– Tre Mason is a force and Junior QB Nick Marshall know how to run the ball like a familiar Tiger that won the last National title for the Tigers and both will hope to continue their trend of dominating on the ground

Weakness:
Passing Offence
– If the Tigers get in trouble they may not have the time to run the ball and that is when things will get tough for Nick Marshall who is a good passer but leads the 107th ranked passing offence in the league that might not be able to make a play

Player to Watch:
Tre Mason, RB
– Tre Mason has been getting stronger every week as he has run for over 100 yards in his last five games and would run for over 300 in the SEC championship game putting him in the Heisman conversation and he will get the chance to continue this trend in the National Championship

Prediction:
Florida State Seminoles 38 – 37 Auburn Tigers
– The Tigers are a team of destiny but the hot streak tends to wear off when you have a month off but what won’t wear off is the defence and the offensive talent of the Seminoles who are the better team in this matchup although the Tigers are far from a pushover

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