Can Auburn pressure Jameis Winston?
Florida State has an experienced and healthy offensive line. If the Auburn Tigers are unable to pressure Winston with their without sending extra rushers they could be in for a long game. Expect Auburn to try to concede the shorter pass plays to Florida State and attempt to eliminate the game-breaking big plays. Winston has thrived in the face of pressure this season and the best way to defend him may be an effort to make Florida State work the ball down the field while not conceding the longer pass plays. If Auburn can force Florida State into field goal attempts in the red zone by utilizing the shorter field when the Seminoles get close to the goal line they may be able to outscore the Seminoles.
Can Florida State slow down the Auburn rushing attack?
Behind the trifecta of Tre Mason, Nick Marshall and Corey Grant the Auburn Tigers have the best rushing attack in college football, averaging 336 yards per game in the regular season, including a dominating 545 yards versus Missouri in the BCS title game. Auburn Head Coach Gus Malzahn is the master at keeping teams off-balanced and gashing them with a variety of rushing plays. He’ll face a Florida State team that allowed only 10.7 points per game this season, albeit against a less than powerful schedule. For Auburn to pull the upset they’ll need to hold Florida State to field goals rather than touchdowns while overpowering the Seminoles on the ground. A successful Auburn rushing attack can have the dual effect of wearing down the Seminoles while using valuable clock. The clearest path to victory for Auburn is to over-power Florida State with some classic SEC-style football.
Is Florida State ready for the physicality of Auburn?
The question looks silly on the outset with Florida State’s deep reservoir of talent, which rivals the top SEC schools. It’s a valid question though, mainly due to the schedule that Florida State has played this season. One only has to look back at the recent BCS history to understand the advantage the SEC has had in physicality during their near decade of dominance. High scoring offenses from power conferences such as Oregon and Oklahoma have found that the SEC often brings a higher level of size, strength and athleticism. The key for Florida State will be to weather the initial jitters and stay consistent with what they do well and their game plan. The Seminoles have as many future NFL players as the Auburn Tigers do, as well as a significant advantage and quarterback. If Florida State can hold onto the football and slow down the Auburn running game they should win going away.By: Chris Cabrera