Florida State capped off its undefeated season and ACC title Saturday, soundly defeating the Duke Blue Devils 45-7. FSU, the only remaining undefeated team in the country, has earned a berth in the Vizio BCS National Championship Game on January 6th. The ‘Noles' attack features the likely Heisman winner Jameis Winston at quarterback, and a stout defense that leads the country in scoring defense, pass defense and pass efficiency defense. The 'Noles now set their sights on Pasadena, where, according to media pundits, they'll face the SEC -- the conference that has won the last seven national titles.
Defensively, Florida State will certainly have its hands full against the SEC offensive attack, as the SEC will line-up 2012 Heisman winner Johnny Manziel under center. Manziel leads a dangerous passing attack which features three stud wide receivers in Dorial Green-Beckham, Amari Cooper and Donte Moncrief. This trio should give FSU's secondary nightmares, particularly cornerbacks Ronald Darby and PJ Williams. Behind Manziel, a trio of workhorses in Tre Mason, Alex Collins and Todd Gurley will keep Florida State's defensive line and linebackers on their toes all night, and look to grind the ‘Noles defense down. Look for the SEC to attempt to gobble up yards on the ground early, as head coach Nick Saban has indicated offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn would like to set the tempo established in the SEC Championship Game and push to rush for over 700 yards against the ‘Noles. Despite a talented ‘Noles defensive line, led by future NFL players in Mario Edwards, Timmy Jergnigan and Eddie Goldman, the SEC coaching staff has indicated that it likes its chances to establish some push in the trenches. The SEC's offensive line, led by tackles Antonio Richardson and Cyrus Kouandjio, will look to set the tone early and keep pressure off of Manziel.
The SEC's defensive line, manned by defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney and Michael Sam, will look to get pressure on Heisman Trophy frontrunner Jameis Winston and prevent the ‘Noles from establishing a ground game with Devonta Freeman, James Wilder or Karlos Williams. Linebackers CJ Mosley, Serderius Bryant and Ramik Wilson will be tasked to both stuff the run, should a Florida State running back be lucky enough to break the line of scrimmage, and provide coverage against passes across the middle and Florida State tight end Nick O'Leary. Florida State's stout receiving corps includes three receivers who are on the cusp of breaking the 1,000 receiving yard barrier this year. However, Rashad Greene, Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw may prove to be no match against the SEC's all-world secondary, led by safety Ha-Ha Clinton Dix. Florida State's offense, which sits 28 points shy of setting the new all-time NCAA record for most points scored in a single season, will have a tall task in putting enough points on the board to be competitive in this matchup. The ‘Noles play in a clearly inferior conference and feature a much weaker strength of schedule. It is not likely that this prolific offense would've put up comparable numbers against defenses the likes of Mississippi State, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas A&M, LSU, Georgia or Vanderbilt.
SEC head coach Nick Saban has indicated that he will not be including a field goal kicker on his final travel roster to Pasadena, indicating that some past event has persuaded him not to trust kickers in big games any longer. Look for the SEC to go for two point conversion following every score.
The line is set at SEC -29.5, but Paul Finebaum and Clay Travis have both indicated that this line is clearly too low and have openly pushed for scrapping the BCS National Championship in lieu of a repeat Iron Bowl to decide the national champion.