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BCS National

Championship Pick

Auburn

vs.

Florida State

1/6/14

There's not much to complain about for this game. Florida State was the best team in the country this year with an undefeated record, while Auburn went through the SEC's elite en route to the conference title. The Seminoles are -9 point favorites at 5 dimes sportsbook for the BCS National Championship game with a total of 67.

The betting trends at sportsbook.com show 54% of the wagers taken have come on Florida State while 78% have come in on the over.

The case against Florida State is that it plays in the ACC and hasn't had real competition throughout the year. But the fact that the Seminoles blew out everyone that was considered a worthy opponent says it all. They took out then-ranked No. 3 Clemson 51-14, then-ranked No. 7 Miami (FL) 41-14 and won 37-7 at Florida.

It's been the exact opposite for Auburn this season who lost its only game of the year at LSU back in September. If that loss would have come in November, the Tigers may not be in this game. Instead, they rolled off nine straight wins including ones against Texas A&M, Georgia, Alabama and Missouri. No matter how fortunate they were in some of those games, it doesn't matter now as the Tigers came out on the winning end.

Florida State boasts the top scoring defense (10.7 PPG) in the nation and the second best scoring offense (53 PPG). Will the defense be enough against Auburn's nation-leading rushing attack (335.7 YPG)? Auburn's defense is lacking a bit, so it's going to fall on the offense to move the ball on every drive.

Much like the rest of the team, running back and Heisman candidate Tre Mason came on later in the season rushing for at least 115 yards in the last five games. That includes his ridiculous 46-carry, 304-yard, four-TD performance against Missouri in the SEC title game. Mason finished with 1,621 yards and 22 TDs for the season. He's joined by QB Nick Marshall, who is better suited in the run game with 1,023 rushing yards and 11 rushing TDs. Marshall isn't a terrible passer with 12 passing TDs, but it's not his strong suit. When needed, Sammie Coates (841 yards, seven TDs) is his favorite receiver.

Something will have to break in this game as Auburn has 46 rushing TDs as a team this year, while Florida State's first-team defense (they were often not needed in the second half in blowouts) has not allowed a rushing touchdown in 13 games this year.

The Tigers don't have as good of defense, but they did hold Alabama to 28 points, which was probably their best game of the season.

Florida State is led by the youngest Heisman winner ever in Jameis Winston. For a freshman, Winston was incredibly accurate, completing 68 percent of his passes for 3,820 yards, 38 TDs and 10 INTs. He mixes it up as well with three receivers having at least 925 yards. Rashad Greene (981 yards, nine TDs) and Kelvin Benjamin (957 yards, 14 TDs) are his favorites. In the running game, Devonta Freeman (945 yards, 13 TDs) leads the way and has at least one touchdown in nine straight games. Backups Karlos Williams (11 TDs) and James Wilder Jr. (eight TDs) are also threats when they come in.

The main question will be what Auburn's defense can do against Winston and company. They haven't exactly been great and FSU is as balanced as they come. Not to mention, Auburn probably won't be scoring on every possession like it did in the SEC Championship game.

Both teams were surprising this year and boast great 11-2 ATS records for the season. The Seminoles are 8-0-1 ATS in their last nine bowl games and are 4-1 ATS in their last five vs. the SEC. The Tigers have covered in seven straight vs. a team with a winning record and are 4-1 ATS in their last five bowl games, but 2-7 ATS in their last nine vs. the ACC.

Wish I could be sending out a strong play on the National Championship game tonight but in the real world of sports handicapping you only play when your methods produce a play. You don't play, just because it's a big game and it's on TV. With that being said, I'll do my best to make heads or tails of this game tonight.

A couple of things make this game fascinating. The first is the Florida State schedule. Let's be real, it was a cake walk. The one opponent that stands out is Clemson. Clemson had a pretty good year and Florida State simply blew them off the map, as they did every single team they faced this year, which is really impressive, despite the strength of their schedule. The Seminoles did what a great team should do, to weaker opposition.

Auburn on the other hand, has some less than impressive performances on their dance card along with back to back miracle endings to end up in this game. The odds of them being in this game, based on the Georgia ending and the Alabama ending, are along the lines of hitting the Powerball jackpot. Doesn't make them a bad team, but they had things bounce their way whereas FSU earned their way here in a very big way.

Losing to LSU and close games with Miss St, Ole Miss and Georgia could be cause for concern, but their decisive win over Missouri is certainly a feather in their cap, to end the year in the SEC Title game.

Boston College came closest to FSU, losing by just 14 and in that game, they ran for 200 yards, the most rushing yards given up by FSU all year long. We'll, Auburn can run the ball better than anyone, ranking #1 in the Nation in rushing, averaging 336 yards per game. They ranked 109th passing though, so the key to the game is obviously the Auburn running game. If FSU can stop Auburn on the ground, it's game over. If they can't, then there's your chance if you're an Auburn backer. The game gets shortened and the potential for a close game exits.

Florida State is balanced. Their passing game is as good as their rushing game and defensively they boast the strongest yards per point numbers in the nation. They should have plenty of opportunities through the air as a result of Auburns 109th ranked pass defense and when there is success through the air, it leads to success on the ground. Mizu, Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia and LSU all put significant points on the board vs. Auburn.

My gut tells me this Auburn team, an SEC team, with their running game and a month to prepare, finds a way to make this an exciting close game. The underdog bettor in me even takes it a step further and says an upset win would be of no surprise and that getting 10+ points in a game for all the marbles is one heck of a deal.

Yet plenty of the numbers I like to use suggest that despite the schedule strength difference, Florida State eventually opens this game up and extends a margin with an exclamation point that has people afterwards suggesting this FSU team ranks up there with the best of all time.

Our model has FSU by a minimum of 22 points but the model hasn't been at it's best when predicting bowl game blowouts. I think I'd be shocked if Florida State did to Auburn what it has done to everyone else this year. Auburn has put up some points against some good defenses this year. 34 against Alabama comes to mind, and yeah, I saw what happened to Alabama in their Bowl game. But I think this game likely plays out closer to the number. My best guess is the Seminoles by 10 to 14 points here. So as an opinion only, I'd go with Florida State -10 or better.

There is not a single result in tonight's game that would shock me, be it a close game decided late with a field goal, or one team blowing out the other and yes, even if it's Auburn blowing out Florida State, I can't honestly day I'd be shocked beyond belief.

But the beautiful thing about being a bettor, as opposed to being a bookmaker, is you don't HAVE to risk your money, on something you're really not sure about. Especially considering that our basketball Key Releases are off to a winning start and there are far better opportunities on the hoops board today, than the football board. Good Luck if you play and enjoy the game!

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