Wiedmer: Hard to see Auburn losing

Wiedmer: Hard to see Auburn losing

January 6th, 2014 by Mark Wiedmer in Sports - Columns

2014 Bowl Championship Series logo

2014 Bowl Championship Series logo

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall.

Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Anyone looking for an omen that Auburn will win tonight's BCS title game against Florida State tonight need only look outside this morning.





Just like that January 10, 2011 day across the South when the Tigers last won it all against Oregon.

So for all you Alabama fans who have now twice in the last four years begun the season bellowing, "It'll be a cold day in (fill in the blank) before Auburn follows us as BCS champs this year," well ...

Still, there seem to be many more reasons than the weather to like Auburn to continue the state of Alabama's stranglehold on football national championships, which is now at four straight and counting.

The bowl record over the past few days of the Southeastern Conference that the Tigers call home may be the best one. Befitting a league that has won the past seven BCS titles, the SEC will enter this evening with a 7-2 record this bowl season.

And that's with the program most of us believed to be the league's best -- two-time defending champ Alabama -- turning in the SEC's worst performance in a 45-31 loss to Oklahoma.

Bad as Bama seemed against the Sooners, the conference would almost certainly stand 8-1 if Georgia's bruised and battered Bulldogs had been able to haul in one more catch against Nebraska. Instead, tight end Arthur Lynch dropped a fourth-down pass at the Big Red 5-yard line that likely would have become a score.

And with that drop, a year that began with such promise before UGA began to stand for Under General Anesthesia for all the season-ending injuries the Dawgs suffered, came to a close.

Yet the rest of the SEC has turned in performances to make every Southerner proud for one reason or another. The league's seven bowl wins have come by an average of 13.3 points, and at least one of the games that was significantly closer than that -- Texas A&M's 52-48 win over Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl -- might have been the most fun contest of the postseason.

Whether or not it foreshadows an Auburn victory tonight is another matter, however. In a flawed BCS world come perfect circle, the same FSU program that made the first three BCS title games -- winning it all in 1999 -- reaches its fourth championship showdown in the BCS's final year.

And good as that 1999 team was in mauling Michael Vick's Virginia Tech Hokies by 17 points (46-29), these Seminoles look to be better, their average margin of victory just shy of 50 points a game, their offensive low a stunning 37 points at Florida, which was the most points the Gators surrendered in the Swamp all season.

That said, you don't only need Auburn's own impressive numbers to fuel the Tigers' confidence, for one FSU win should give any Tiger great hope tonight -- the Noles' 48-34 victory at Boston College.

Forget the fact the Eagles finished 7-6 and got bombed by Arizona in a bowl, though BC's mediocrity shouldn't be ignored. Remember the fact that BC gobbled up 397 yards of offense against FSU, including 200 on the ground. This is important because the Eagles' offensive coordinator, Ryan Day, both played and coached under current Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly at New Hampshire.

If any system closely mirrors the shell game that AU genius Gus Malzahn runs, it's Kelly. And while it's fair to say BC had the great Andre Williams at running back, Auburn's Tre Mason is arguably just as dangerous. And everywhere else Auburn is better. Much better.

Does this mean the SEC wins an eighth straight national title tonight and its 10th overall in the BCS's 16-year run? Not necessarily. It might even mean the opposite, that having seen BC, FSU will be more ready for the Tigers.

But the ACC is 4-6 in bowls this year, its four wins coming by an average of 8.5 points and its six losses suffered by an average of 17. And given that, plus the weather, FSU's struggles with BC and the fact that much as AU's 2010 title came in Arizona's desert this one will be staged in California's Rose Bowl, we'll predict the Seminoles will be as disappointed in the final BCS title game as they were in their first encounter with an SEC school, when they fell to Tennessee in the innaugural BCS game to close out the 1998 season.

Make it Auburn 38, FSU 35.

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com