Auburn's Malzahn: FSU will be 'huge challenge'
by Ryan Black
Dec 08, 2013 | 4511 views |  0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Auburn's Gabe Wright celebrates after the Tigers' win over Missouri on Saturday. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
Auburn's Gabe Wright celebrates after the Tigers' win over Missouri on Saturday. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
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AUBURN — For the second time in four years, Auburn will play In the BCS National Championship Game.

After beating Missouri in Saturday’s SEC Championship Game — coupled with Ohio State’s loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship contest — it was a mere formality Auburn would move up from No. 3 to No. 2 in the BCS standings.

Once the standings were released this evening, it was official: Auburn (12-1) will face No. 1 Florida State (13-0) for a national championship Jan. 6 in Pasadena, Calif.

When the Tigers arrive in Pasadena, they will prepare for an opponent that has not been tested this season.

The Seminoles are averaging 53 points a game while giving up just 10.7. The tightest contest Florida State has had came on Sept. 28 at Boston College. Even so, the Seminoles still won by two touchdowns, leaving with a 48-34 victory.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn was well aware of Florida State’s astounding numbers Sunday night.

“Their quarterback (Jameis Winston) is unbelievable, the receivers are unbelievable,” he said during a BCS coaches teleconference. “They can run the football. So it'll be a huge challenge for our defense. ... (But) this year it's been very unique. Our team has complemented each other. When our offense hasn't played well our defense has played well, and vice versa. So, hopefully, we can do that again.”

On the flip side, Jimbo Fisher knew his team would have to come up with a game plan to slow down the Tigers’ rushing attack, which is tops in the country in yards per game (335.7). What’s more, Auburn is coming off a record-setting performance in the SEC Championship Game, where it ran for 545 yards against Missouri.

Fisher credited Malzahn for much of the success, saying he has found a way to perfectly utilize the many options at his disposal.

“They can handle on the speed sweep, they outflank you, they have great receivers and motion guys that way, they can run the ball inside with great power and the quarterback can run it and play action off of it, which is like a four headed monster — you talk about a three headed monster, they have a four headed monster — and they have an excellent offensive line,” Fisher said. “The productivity is amazing. What they've been able to do, and we all know that the SEC is an outstanding league and they play great football. … They'll be a tremendous challenge for our team.”

Of course, the matchup wouldn’t have happened if not for the Spartans, who ended the Buckeyes’ 24-game win streak.

Malzahn said he had not spoken with Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, “but I need to.” He said he got a chance to watch the last two minutes of the Spartans’ 34-24 victory when he got home.

“I was kind of keeping up with it a little bit on my phone,” Malzahn said. “When I got in my car, I turned on the radio.”

His players, meanwhile, were in different spots of their dormitory,

“I was actually in the lobby of the dorm. A lot of guys were in there just watching the game,” junior running back Tre Mason said. “We were all just excited on that fourth down that Ohio State didn't convert. It worked out in favor of us.”

Chris Davis went a step further, extending his gratitude to the Spartans on behalf of the Tigers.

“We just thank Michigan State for the opportunity to let us get a chance to play in the national championship game,” the senior said, before stating that Auburn still earned its spot in the BCS title contest. “We had a tougher schedule than Ohio State, but we don’t do the votes on who is going to play in the national championship game. We beat the No. 1 team in the nation, and we beat more top-5 teams than they did, so I think we had to right to play in the national championship.”

Even though senior Dee Ford said it’s easy to get overwhelmed, he added thathaving been around for Auburn’s 2010 national title, he already knows the routine.

“It gets to a point where you just have to start focusing on things that you have to do,” he said. “You have to start making plans. I’ve got a few things coming up — I’m about to graduate. I haven’t really had much time to sit back and dwell on what just happened just yet. But it’s a great feeling.”

The other marquee bowls:

— Alabama will play Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.

— Clemson will play Ohio State in the Orange Bowl.

— Michigan State will play Stanford in the Rose Bowl.

— Baylor will play Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl.

BCS Standings List

1. Florida State

2. Auburn

3. Alabama

4. Michigan State

5. Stanford

6. Baylor

7. Ohio State

8. Missouri

9. South Carolina

10. Oregon

11. Oklahoma

12. Clemson

13. Oklahoma State

14. Arizona State

15. Central Florida

16. LSU

17. UCLA

18. Louisville

19. Wisconsin

20. Fresno State

21. Texas A&M

22. Georgia

23. Northern Illinois

24. Duke

25. Southern California

The Associated Press Top 25

The Top 25 teams in The Associated Press college football poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Dec. 7, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote, and previous ranking:

Record Pts Pv

1. Florida St. (56) 13-0 1,496 1

2. Auburn (4) 12-1 1,444 3

3. Alabama 11-1 1,376 4


4. Michigan St. 12-1 1,278 10

5. Stanford 11-2 1,217 7

6. Baylor 11-1 1,185 9

7. Ohio St. 12-1 1,130 2

8. South Carolina 10-2 1,099 8

9. Missouri 11-2 1,066 5

10. Oregon 10-2 880 12

11. Oklahoma 10-2 878 18

12. Clemson 10-2 848 13

13. Oklahoma St. 10-2 797 6

14. LSU 9-3 726 14

15. UCF 11-1 629 15

16. Arizona St. 10-3 614 11

17. UCLA 9-3 544 17

18. Louisville 11-1 525 19

19. Wisconsin 9-3 383 21

20. Texas A&M 8-4 282 22

21. Fresno St. 11-1 227 24

22. Duke 10-3 201 20

23. Georgia 8-4 196 25

24. N. Illinois 12-1 144 16

25. Notre Dame 8-4 76 NR

Others receiving votes: Southern Cal 74, Iowa 48, Miami 47, Vanderbilt 25, Texas 22, Cincinnati 11, Bowling Green 10, Washington 9, Rice 7, N. Dakota St. 4, Minnesota 2.

USA Today Top 25 poll

The USA Today Top 25 football coaches poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Dec.7, total points based on 25 points for first place through one point for 25th, and previous ranking:

Record Pts Pvs

1. Florida State (62) 13-0 1550 1

2. Auburn 12-1 1486 3

3. Alabama 11-1 1414 4


4. Michigan State 12-1 1342 9

5. Baylor 11-1 1275 t7

6. Ohio State 12-1 1211 2

7. Stanford 11-2 1188 10

8. South Carolina 10-2 1108 t7

9. Missouri 11-2 1088 5

10. Oklahoma 10-2 913 15

11. Clemson 10-2 899 11

12. Oregon 10-2 887 12

13. Oklahoma State 10-2 845 6

14. LSU 9-3 719 14

15. Central Florida 11-1 658 17

16. Louisville 11-1 611 16

17. Arizona State 10-3 602 13

18. UCLA 9-3 520 19

19. Wisconsin 9-3 408 21

20. Fresno State 11-1 344 22

21. Texas A&M 8-4 247 25

21. Duke 10-3 247 20

23. Northern Illinois 12-1 149 18

24. Georgia 8-4 135 NR

25. Miami (Fla.) 9-3 73 NR

Others receiving votes: Cincinnati 47; Vanderbilt 40; Southern California 33; Iowa 30; Texas 27; Rice 23; Bowling Green 12; Notre Dame 8; Minnesota 6; Ball State 2; Nebraska 1; Virginia Tech 1; Washington 1.
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