Thanks to the inclusion of some of the nation’s most electrifying teams, the 2013-2014 college football bowl season has not run short of excitement. With 15 of the 34 bowl games played finishing decided by 10 points or less, the postseason has provided fans across the globe added enjoyment during the holiday season. Though the entertainment value has been strong since Colorado State and Washington State opened the bowl slate with a thrilling Gildan New Mexico Bowl, the college year on the gridiron will be closing Monday night, but the game that says goodbye to another thrilling season should not disappoint.
Set to meet in the 16th and final BCS bowl game, No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Auburn are making their final preparations before clashing in the 2014 BCS National Championship Game. Playing at the famed Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, the top-ranked and undefeated Seminoles (13-0) hope to ride the outstanding play of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston one more time this season. The star freshman accounted for over 3,800 yards through the air while tossing 38 scores, helping the rising talent put together one of the best seasons by a freshman in college football history. Preparing for the biggest game in his young career, Winston has the full support of his head coach, who isn’t worried about the 6’4”, 228 pound 20-year-old buckling under big time pressure.
“I think he'll react the same,” Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher said when asked how his QB would respond if Florida State is tested late, something that hasn’t happened this season. “When he walked out there at Pittsburgh with all the expectations things that went on at the beginning of the year, the hype he had coming onto a national stage with a national game on the first game, and going 25 of 27 I believe it was, he always played - he plays with pressure on him every day. He played with pressure that every play is the National Championship. That's how he goes about his business every day. He puts that pressure on himself the way he prepares every day. I don't think it'll make him blink one bit.”
FSU’s opponents aren’t expected to buckle under pressure either. Completing a magical season with victories over then No. 1 ranked Alabama and Missouri in the SEC Championship game, the Auburn Tigers (12-1) know they can win any style of football. Leading the nation in rushing yards with over 330 per game, head coach Gus Malzahn and company feel comfortable about their abilities to win big but also understand how to perform in tight contests.
With six games - including the 34-28 win at Alabama – decided by 8 points or less, Malzahn and the Tigers have enjoyed the moments leading up to Monday night’s title bout but know that a business as usual approach will be needed to hand the Seminoles their first loss of the season.
“I'm trying my best to enjoy the moment, but the bottom line is we've got a job to do, and as a coach your responsibility is to have your team prepared as possible and to stay in that routine, and in this setting this week, obviously that's a challenge,” Malzahn said. “But our team and our coaches have done that all year, and I feel so far up to this point as a group we've done that.”
2014 BCS National Championship - No. 1 FSU vs. No. 2 Auburn: DATE, TIME & VIEWING INFO
DATE: Monday, Jan. 6
TIME: 8:30 p.m., ET
TV COVERAGE: ESPN
LIVE STREAM: CLICK HERE