FSU-AUBURN: What the Bowl Games Say About BCS Title Bout
It's a dangerous thing to use comparative scores of the previous bowl games to predict tonight's BCS Championship game - but until kick-off, it's all we have. And besides, it's fun, even if it proves to be inaccurate. So with that in mind, let's review a few bowls to see if the results speak to tonight's Auburn-Florida State game.
Texas A&M 52, Duke 48: This game might be the most chilling for Auburn fans. After all, Florida State's 45-7 dominance of Duke in the ACC Championship game was largely dismissed because - well, it's Duke, and Duke simply doesn't have the speed and strength to play big-time football. Against the Aggies however, the Dookies were not physically outclassed. Sure, Johnny Football's offense put up 45 points and the defense added a pick six, but it's not like Aggie receivers were running unimpeded thru the Duke defense. Manziel threw the ball into very tight windows all night, and he scrambled his way out of trouble when no other options were open. Meanwhile, Duke's offense was unstoppable for 55 minutes, racking up more yards and points than anyone in the SEC had against them. Given that Auburn struggled to beat A&M, FSU's whipping of Duke portends good things for FSU tonight.
Clemson 40, Ohio State 35: If the Duke result doesn't get Auburn's attention, then Clemson's thrilling defeat of Ohio State just might. Against the Buckeyes, a national contender up until the Big Ten Title game, the Tigers had their way on offense - in spite of perhaps QB Tajh Boyd's worst interception ever - and had just enough defense to hold on for the win. It's hard to tell for sure, but Ohio State did not strike me as a team bored by their bowl assignment. And remember, FSU traipsed into Clemson and destroyed the Tigers 51-14 earlier in the season. This result also looks promising for the 'Noles.
Oklahoma 45, Alabama 31: The Sooners 'opened up a can' on the Tide, and it didn't require a 109-yard FG return or a tipped hail Mary pass. Sooner Coach Bob Stoops quickly used the whipping to take a shot at the SEC, and I suppose he earned the right. If the Oklahoma coach is right about the SEC, then this is another result that should worry Tiger fans. Having said that, I think it's pretty clear that this match up did not capture the imagination of the Tide - who were very disappointed to be there in the first place - while the Sooners' players and coaches were using it as a statement game. I don't think Stoops is right about the SEC.
Arizona 42, Boston College 19 / UCLA 42, Virginia Tech 12: These two games definitely played into the narrative that the ACC is just no good in football. The Seminoles had some trouble early in their game with BC, falling behind by 14 before winning by 14. They did not play the Hokies this season. However, after these two results, and before Clemson and Duke kicked off, the ACC was losing 'cred' fast. These two results should hearten Tiger fans.
Mizzou 41, Oklahoma State 31: This result certainly made Auburn and the SEC look pretty good. It also strengthens the notion that tonight's game will be very high scoring. The Cowboys, after all, were a bad call away from beating Oklahoma in the regular season finale, but could not handle Missouri's offense late in the Cotton Bowl game at all. Being in the SEC has improved Mizzou.
LSU 21, Iowa 14: Since LSU gave Auburn their only defeat, 35-21, this game held a lot of potential as an indicator. However, with LSU's quarterback Zach Mettenberger out with an injury, it's hard to get a read off of the result. If anything, it would show some SEC strength in a general sense given that LSU managed to win even though their injury riddled passing game was anemic. In addition, there was probably nothing about a nondescript Iowa team that excited LSU about the match up either.
OVERALL: On balance, the previous bowl results probably indicate that FSU is worthy of their status as a comfortable favorite. Then again, do these results matter? Probably not. Moreover, tonight's game is a full four weeks removed from either team playing a game - which is an eternity in this sport. The two teams who play tonight will determine the 2013 National Champion, even though it is 2014, and the two teams might be markedly different than the squads who played the '13 regular season. The previous bowl results were fun to watch in most cases, and while provocative, probably not predictive.