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BCS coaching matchup offers contrast in styles

Gus Malzahn

Gus Malzahn

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Updated: January 5, 2014 9:50PM

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — It has been pointed out repeatedly that a victory Monday by Florida State (13-0) would end the Southeastern Conference’s national-championship streak at seven.

In some ways, though, a title by Auburn (12-1) would feel like a bigger departure from the norm.

That’s partly because, philosophically and schematically, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn is so different from the towering figure among SEC coaches, Alabama’s Nick Saban. Take the disagreement between the two about the subject of tempo. Malzahn thinks an offense should run as many plays as it wants if it can pull it off to its advantage. Saban has argued many times that too much pace is dangerous to defensive players.

It’s understandable why Saban, who has the best players, would want to rein in creativity among his peers. And it’s endearing to many how Malzahn doesn’t even to pretend to care what Saban thinks.

Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, meanwhile, is very much from the Saban mold. Fisher was an assistant on Saban’s Bowl Championship Series title-winning team at LSU and was influenced by him. They have different X’s-and-O’s styles, but their philosophies about running programs and guiding players come off as identical.

‘‘We have a core belief system of how I want things done, and it has worked all year — worked in the past three years — and we’ll do the same things [Monday],’’ Fisher said, pulling directly from about a billion of Saban’s news conferences.

Take your pick

Before you pick your winner, you’ll have to decide which trend is more potent.

Trend No. 1: Auburn has won 88 consecutive games when scoring at least 30 points, which it has done nine outings in a row since losing at LSU in September.

Trend No. 2: No team has beaten two top-ranked opponents in the same season. Auburn has done it once in 2013, taking down Alabama in the Iron Bowl.

Record chase

The Seminoles are 28 points from owning the Football Bowl Subdivision record for points in a season. The 2008 Oklahoma team holds the record with 716.

‘‘They make so many big plays,’’ Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said. ‘‘They can look average at times and [already] have 21 points on the board.’’

The good foot

Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo has scored 147 points this season, nine behind the single-season record for a kicker held by Oklahoma State’s Quinn Sharp, who had 156 in 2012.

That’s cool. But way cooler is that Aguayo has a chance to finish the season with more points than all of the Seminoles’ foes combined. To date, their 13 opponents have scored only 139 points.

One last thing

It’s the 16th and final season of the BCS in college football. Care to guess which teams are tied for the most appearances in the title game during that period?

You just said Alabama, didn’t you? Wrong.

As of Monday, Florida State will be tied with Oklahoma at four apiece.


Twitter: @SLGreenberg

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