Florida State, Auburn both used to winning
BY STEVE GREENBERG Staff Reporter January 6, 2014 11:27PM
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 06: Running back Tre Mason #21 of the Auburn Tigers celebrates with offensive linesman Chad Slade #62 after a 12-yard touchdown against the Florida State Seminoles in the first quarter of the 2014 Vizio BCS National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl on January 6, 2014 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Updated: February 8, 2014 6:33AM
PASADENA, Calif. — Florida State and Auburn entered Monday night’s BCS title game as two of the most successful programs in college football based on winning percentage in bowl games.
The Seminoles were 26-14-2, for a winning percentage of .650. The Tigers were 22-13-2, for a winning percentage of .629. Both schools were on five-game bowl winning streaks.
Perhaps surprisingly, Auburn owned an impressive head-to-head record over FSU of 13-4-1, although the schools hadn’t met on the field since 1990.
Winston’s big talk
By game day, FSU quarterback Jameis Winston seemingly was getting a little tired of being complimentary of Auburn. Seizing on one of the most common themes throughout the Tigers’ late-season run, Winston tried to set his top-ranked team apart from college football’s No. 2.
“I’m glad everybody calls Auburn a team of destiny,” said the Heisman Trophy-winning redshirt freshman, “because at Florida State, we control our own destiny.”
First time for everything
When Auburn scored a first-quarter touchdown on a 12-yard pass from Nick Marshall to Tre Mason to take a 7-3 lead, it marked the first time the Seminoles had trailed in a game since Sept. 28 at Boston College.
Two touchdowns later, after Marshall scored on a keeper to make it 21-3, FSU faced its largest deficit of the season.
Needless to say, this was the sort of adversity Winston and company hadn’t had to deal with. Particularly for Winston — whose fumble led to Marshall’s touchdown run — it set him up to be an unlikely goat or, given the way the Tigers dominated the first half, an almost shocking hero.
A sign of weakness?
The Second-Guessing Department was out in full force after it became clear to everyone in a packed Rose Bowl Stadium that FSU was going to get all it could handle from Auburn.
One of the most interesting, and truly meaningful, tidbits: The 2013 Seminoles had the weakest strength of schedule (No. 64 nationally) of any team to play for the BCS title in the last 10 years.
The three teams with the next-worst strength-of-schedule rankings — Ohio State’s 2006 and 2007 teams, and Texas in 2009 — all were beaten by an SEC opponent in the championship game by at least 14 points.
This was widely said to be one of the best years on record for the wACC, but clearly FSU’s conference has a ways to go. Of course, it didn’t help the Seminoles that Florida, an annual foe from the SEC that’s usually rock-solid, had one of its worst seasons.