Issuu on Google+

STO RY O F T HE S E AS O N 3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10 11

12 13 14 15

12.07.13

AUBURN VS. MISSOURI

SAYING SO LONG TO THE BCS JUST WOULDN’T BE AS SWEET WITHOUT THE GOOD OL’ SEC

Tre Mason set SEC championship rushing records with 46 carries, 304 yards and 4 TDs as the Tigers’ improbable title run continued.

PREVIOUS WEEKS

MOST IMPRESSIVE WINS WINNERS IN RED; RATING SCALE 0-100

2 4

1

3

1 Stanford @ Arizona State 38-14

98.7

2 Michigan State vs. Ohio State 34-24

98.5

3 Auburn vs. Missouri 59-42

98.3

4 Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State 33-24

96.1 UNDEFEATED TEAMS THROUGH WEEK 15

THE STORY OF THEIR SEASONS

UNDEFEATED LOSERS IN WEEK 15 PREVIOUS LOSERS

Florida State has had an average win probability of 83.7% this season, the second-highest pre-bowl figure of any FBS team since 2004. Auburn, however, has taken a far more serendipitous route to the title game, as these charts show.

FSU’S AVERAGE WIN PROBABILITY

100%

62-7 vs. Nevada

54-6 vs. Bethune-Cookman

48-34 @ Boston College

63-0 vs. Maryland

51-14 @ Clemson

49-17 vs. NC State

41-14 vs. Miami (Fla.)

59-3 @ Wake Forest

59-3 vs. Syracuse

80-14 vs. Idaho

37-7 @ Florida

45-7 vs. Duke (in Charlotte, N.C.)

75%

41-13 @ Pitt GAME 1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

50%

25%

WEEK

B C S T R AC KE R BCS STANDINGS THROUGH WEEK 15

AUBURN’S AVERAGE WIN PROBABILITY

100%

35-17 @ Arkansas

55-23 @ Tennessee

43-38 vs. Georgia

34-28 vs. Alabama

59-42 vs. Missouri (in Atlanta)

4

45-10 vs. Florida Atlantic

3

45-41 @ Texas A&M

2

62-3 vs. Western Carolina

GAME 1

30-22 vs. Ole Miss

25%

35-21 (L) @ LSU

50%

24-20 vs. Mississippi State

75%

38-9 vs. Arkansas State

2

31-24 vs. Washington State

1

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

1

Florida State

2

Auburn

3

Alabama

4

Michigan State

12.07.13

FLORIDA STATE VS. DUKE

Behind Jameis Winston’s four touchdowns—three passing and this one leaping—FSU cruised into its first national title game in 13 years. FROM TOP: JOHN BAZEMORE/AP IMAGES; STREETER LECK A/GETTY IMAGES


STO RY OF THE SEASO N 1

ROSE BOWL Jan. 1, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN NO. 5 STANFORD VS. NO. 4 MICHIGAN STATE

2

3

4

5

Number of Stanford’s FBS-high 40 sacks created by four or fewer pass rushers. That’s a stark contrast to MSU’s top-ranked defense (247.8 ypg allowed), which brings five or more blitzers on 34% of dropbacks, the highest percentage in the Big Ten. It’s worked for Sparty—so far. MSU has played only one top-20 team all year. —ADAM K. MOUSSA

6

7

8

9

10 11

12 13 14 15

FOOTBALL POWER INDEX PREDICTION

STANFORD BY

15

DABO SWINNEY Clemson’s boss looks at the keys to FSU’s game plan on D.

WHAT WE LEARNED PLAYING AUBURN AND FSU

Georgia’s Mark Richt and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, whose teams started it all in Week 1, break down the finale’s top matchup: Auburn’s relentless rushing attack vs. FSU’s stout defense. BY BROCK HUARD HUARD: What’s one of the misconceptions

HUARD: Most fans know about

With QB Nick Marshall’s running ability, it’s almost as if the Tigers gain an extra offensive player on every snap. So I am guessing that containing them isn’t limited to just the front seven? The eyes are so critical for the entire defense against Auburn, but especially for the secondary. Like the linebackers at the second level, your DBs must close down the space that Auburn is trying to create. The Tigers force you to defend the entire field and be disciplined on the perimeter. And tackling in space is a priority as well.

So you think their front seven is stout enough to hold up against Auburn’s run game? Look at the size and depth they have on the defensive line. They might not have the natural pass rushers they’ve had in the past, but they know how to set the edge in the run game, and DT Timmy Jernigan is a man in the middle.

about Auburn offensively? RICHT: The Tigers go about their dominant run game with a different mindset. Fans get used to hearing the phrase “blowing someone off the football.” But Auburn loves to move people horizontally, which is what helps them create so much space.

MARK RICHT The Georgia coach analyzes the SEC champ’s offense.

84

ESPN The Magazine 01/06/2014

Here’s a good stat: Of Auburn’s 309 first downs, 215 came via the run. How do you stop an offense this explosive? They play so fast that they try to dictate what you can do defensively, so playing really good defense against Auburn can be a double-edged sword. Say you hold them to two, three, four yards. Well, they are really good in short-yardage situations and will go for it on fourth down too. Now your really good defense has been on the field for more snaps and runs the risk of wearing down. The better defense you play can, in some ways, be a disadvantage.

Jameis Winston and the FSU offense, but how good are the Seminoles on defense? SWINNEY: They have no weaknesses. They’re strong at the point of attack, and they have some scary-fast linebackers capable of making plays anywhere on the field.

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops, the former FSU D-coordinator, told me the Seminoles have the best secondary in the country. You buying it? Um, yes; I saw it up close. They’re good enough to play man coverage whenever they want. Lamarcus Joyner impacts every game, whether it’s as a corner, a safety or a nickelback. He’s just an incredible player. Do you think a really good secondary can impact an offense as much as an elite front seven? Absolutely, and we’ve had that at Clemson before. When a defense is dominant in the back end, it throws off the entire rhythm and timing of the offense. That’s why the Seminoles match up well with Auburn: Their belief in their man coverage will offset the numbers advantage Auburn usually gets with its run game. They’ll force the Tigers to win through the air.

FROM LEFT: PAUL ABELL/AP IMAGES; RAINIER EHRHARDT/AP IMAGES


STO RY OF THE SEASO N 1

FIESTA BOWL Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

2

3

4

5

Baylor’s points per game, the highest figure by any FBS team since Houston averaged 53.5 in 1989. Don’t be surprised if the Bears keep it rollin’ on the big stage: UCF’s defense has played more teams ranked below 100 in offensive efficiency (five) than above 30 (one). —SCOTT T. MILLER

NO. 15 UCF VS. NO. 6 BAYLOR

STRENGTH VS. STRENGTH

How does FSU’s D match up with Auburn’s read-option-heavy scheme? ESPN analyst Brock Huard hit the film room to find out.

AUBURN OFFENSE 1 RB Tre Mason (1A) is a big reason Auburn ranks second among automatic qualifying teams with 172.9 ypg on read-option runs. Downhill blocking by FB Jay Prosch (1B) has helped spring Mason for many of his 42 runs of 10-plus yards (11th in the FBS).

2 QB Nick Marshall averages 9.0 ypc on read-option runs and ranks second among all AQ players with 882 read-option yards. That’s one part talent and one part coach Gus Malzahn, who constantly shows new looks to keep defenses off balance.

3B 3C 2

1B

8

1A

9

10 11

12 13 14 15

FOOTBALL POWER INDEX PREDICTION

FSU DEFENSE 4 DT Timmy Jernigan, FSU’s 292-pound wrecking ball in the middle, will face plenty of double-teams. If Jernigan can use his leverage to clog Auburn’s interior running lanes, the FSU linebackers will have no problem cleaning up behind him.

6

3A

7

3 WR Sammie Coates (3A), TE Brandon Fulse (3B) and WR Ricardo Louis (3C) make up the best perimeter run-blocking unit in the country. Here, Coates takes the strong safety completely out of the play, leaving Marshall one-onone with a corner, if the QB chooses to keep it.

5 4

6

BAYLOR BY

20

5 Led by CB Lamarcus Joyner, the Seminoles’ pass coverage gets a lot of pub (25 INTs, just 13 pass TDs allowed), but the secondary also tackles better than any other unit in the game. Joyner will play a lot of nickel corner against the Tigers in order to keep an extra defender around the line. 6 Sophomore DE Mario Edwards Jr., the nation’s top recruit in 2012, has only 2.5 sacks this season. Against an Auburn offense that rushes the ball 52 times per game, look for FSU to use the 277-pound Edwards to condense the open edges and force the run back inside.

OUTSIDE IN

Auburn is one of only three AQ teams that run outside the tackles on more than 50% of their carries. In fact, the Tigers’ 2,887 outside rushing yards tops the total rushing yards of 106 FBS teams. As the chart shows, to get past Florida State’s pesky D, which has allowed just five rushing TDs all year, the Tigers will be wise to keep heading toward the edge.

Yards per rush

8.5

5.1

OUTSIDE THE TACKLES INSIDE THE TACKLES

AUBURN O FFENSE

Yards per rush Auburn QB Nick Marshall

86

ESPN The Magazine 01/06/2014

4.9

2,887 1,583 27 19 105 35

FSU DEFENSE

Rushing yards Touchdowns 10-plus-yard rushes Numbers do not include sacks.

934 3 25

827 2 16

3.1

FSU LB Telvin Smith

FROM LEFT: CHARLES MITCHELL/ICON SMI; JOE ROBBINS/GETTY IMAGES


STO RY OF THE SEASO N 1

SUGAR BOWL Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

2

3

4

5

6

8

9

10 11

12 13 14 15

FOOTBALL POWER INDEX PREDICTION

Record of teams, since 2004, that lost their last game before playing in the Sugar Bowl. The last time Alabama played in the Sugar Bowl coming off a season-crushing loss was 2009, when the Tide were double-digit favorites against Utah … and lost by 14. Don’t expect a repeat. —BEN BRADLEY

NO. 11 OKLAHOMA VS. NO. 3 ALABAMA

7

ALABAMA BY

14

HOW THEY STACK UP

2013 BCS title matchup

Florida State has scored 50-plus points in seven of 13 games this season, so it’s no surprise that the Jameis Winston–led Seminoles have the highest offensive efficiency rating of any team since 2004, when college football began tracking play-by-play data.* FSU will have a decided advantage over an Auburn defense that, as the chart shows, doesn’t rank with title-team D’s of the past decade—except for the Tigers of 2010.

OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY

26.3

DEFENSIVE EFFICIENCY

23.6

*ESPN Stats & Information’s efficiency numbers reflect each unit’s contribution to the team’s opponent-adjusted scoring margin per game. For more on the methodology, go to ESPN.com/FPI.

19.0

18.7 17.1

16.1

18.6

17.1

16.2

15.4

15.0 13.9

18.3

13.3 10.6

12.3

16.1

12.4

11.9

7.9 4.6 1.3 FSU

2013

AUBURN

2013

ALABAMA

2012

ALABAMA

2011

AUBURN

2010

ALABAMA

2009

FLORIDA

2008

LSU

2007

FLORIDA

TEXAS

2006

USC

2005

2004

All numbers exclude bowl game.

NUMBER OF 20-PLUS-YARD RECEPTIONS BY FSU WIDE RECEIVERS, FOURTH MOST IN THE FBS. KENNY SHAW (22) AND KELVIN BENJAMIN (20) ARE TWO OF THE TOP 12 BIGPLAY WIDE RECEIVERS IN THE COUNTRY. JAMEIS WINSTON & CO. FIGURE TO FEAST ON AUBURN’S 104TH-RANKED PASSING DEFENSE, WHICH HAS ALLOWED 50 COMPLETIONS OF 20-PLUS YARDS, SEVENTH HIGHEST IN THE FBS.

WHO WILL BE NAMED THE OFFENSIVE MVP OF THE VIZIO BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME? WR Kelvin Benjamin, FSU

Someone else

5% 4%

54

%

QB Nick Marshall, Auburn

9

%

28% RB Tre Mason, Auburn

QB Jameis Winston, FSU Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin

30,854 TOTAL VOTES

SAM GREENWOOD/GETTY IMAGES


STO RY OF THE SEASO N 1

ORANGE BOWL Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

2

3

4

5

6

Completion percentage of Clemson QB Tajh Boyd on passes of 20-plus yards, best among all AQ conference QBs. Ohio State’s pass defense—102nd in the FBS (259.5 ypg)—allowed Big Ten opponents to complete 39.3% of such passes, third worst in the conference. Expect a shootout. —ADAM K. MOUSSA

NO. 12 CLEMSON VS. NO. 7 OHIO STATE

7

8

9

10 11

12 13 14 15

FOOTBALL POWER INDEX PREDICTION

OHIO STATE BY

6

LIGHT ’EM UP

Jameis Winston has thrown for 20 TDs of 20 or more yards (second in the FBS). ESPN analyst Brock Huard shows how Jimbo Fisher’s passing scheme will force Auburn’s vulnerable defense to account for every inch of the field.

3B

1B 2B

3A 2A 1A

1 Seminoles wideout Kelvin Benjamin (1A) averages 19.1 ypc thanks to deep corner routes like this one. There’s a reason he has 14 TDs (fourth in the FBS): No WR uses

his frame better in the red zone. And at 6'5", he’ll have a six-inch height advantage over CB Chris Davis (1B). Jump ball anyone? 2 All-ACC LT Cameron Erving

(2A) will have his hands full with DE Dee Ford (2B), whose 8.5 sacks ranks third in the SEC. If Auburn can pressure QB Jameis Winston without blitzing, coach Jimbo

Fisher’s playbook will shrink considerably. 3 TE Nick O’Leary (3A) gains a first down or scores on 88% of his catches, best among all tight ends. Fisher’s

scheme often forces safeties like Jermaine Whitehead (3B) to choose between the TE and wideout. If Whitehead shades toward Benjamin, Winston will find O’Leary.

MIGHT THAT NEW BRONZE STATUE ON JAMEIS WINSTON’S MANTEL WEIGH HIM DOWN A BIT IN PASADENA? HEISMAN WINNERS ARE JUST 3–6 IN BCS TITLE GAMES SINCE 1998.

BCS TITLE GAME JAN. 6, 8:30 P.M. ET, ESPN FOOTBALL POWER INDEX PREDICTION

FLORIDA STATE BY 13 90

ESPN The Magazine 01/06/2014

ESPN (ISSN # 1097-1998) (USPS # 016-356). Volume 17, No. 1, January 6, 2014. ESPN is published biweekly, except monthly in January and July, by ESPN, 77 West 66th St., New York, NY, 10023-6201. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to ESPN, P.O. Box 37325, Boone, IA 50037-0325. For subscription queries, call customer service at 1-888-267-3684. To change your address, log on to www.accountinfo.espnmag.com.


2014 BCS Preview