This isn’t an exercise in inflating the worth of the Seminoles. It’s also not intended to slight Auburn’s team, which, like FSU, is more than deserving of its shot at the title. Rather, this is an interrogation of the rationale currently being employed to enhance — either sincerely or for the sake of drumming up greater interest — the possibility of Auburn upsetting top-ranked Florida State. Auburn may well win the game; but it won’t be because of the following reasons currently circulating in the media.
Argument: Auburn is Peaking at the Right Time
First, a concession: they are. Nobody’s arguing that. But if we apply the often-used sports metaphor of peaks and valleys to both teams, Auburn, while certainly ascending, has also shown the tendency to find a low point here and there. FSU has not. They’ve effectively lived at the summit of college football this season.
Argument: Auburn Will Benefit from Playing in Close Games
Yes, Auburn has been in some tight ones. They’ve also needed miraculous plays to win. Some call it “finding a way to win,” but it can just as easily be deemed relying on the statistically unlikely– especially the more it happens. Florida State hasn’t played in close games this year because their talent — and most agree that the ‘Noles are the most talented team in the country — allows them to pull away from teams. Now, Auburn is certainly more talented than Pitt and Wake and Duke, but this talent gap, although narrow, still exists.
Argument: Auburn Can Run on Anybody
This claim is almost universally accepted as a fact. But I’m not sure why, given the fact that FSU has a month to prepare for an offense that runs, essentially, a handful of plays. Sure, they run them very well, but still: a month. Many cite Boston College’s success running the ball against FSU in the closest game the Seminoles played as evidence to their assertion that Auburn’s ground game will dominate. But remember, that was just the fourth game of the season, and the Florida State defenders were still adjusting to the new defensive schemes of first-year coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. In the time since, they’ve gelled, and mistakes — like confusing gap responsibilities, which would be glaring against Auburn’s attack — are now quite rare. Still, many maintain that Auburn is simply to much too handle here. Okay. They said the same thing about Clemson.
Argument: Auburn Is in the SEC, and the SEC Wins Titles
Again, there’s no disagreeing with history. Seven straight is beyond impressive. Most, however, will agree that the SEC is down a bit this season. And, regarding their respective natures, isn’t FSU more of an SEC team anyway? They’re built around talent and athleticism. Auburn is built around a system that they run very well. Need a title game comparison? Try Auburn vs. Oregon a few years ago.
Argument: Auburn Is a Team of Destiny
This is my favorite, as it effectively demonstrates just how short our memories can be. Talent trumps destiny. Ask Notre Dame.