An Auburn victory would seem to be fitting in the last game played during the BCS era. The Tigers can secure the SEC's eighth consecutive BCS national title and the fifth in a row for the state of Alabama. SEC teams have won nine of the previous 15 BCS national titles (the next-closest league is the Big 12 with two), and the last non-SEC team to win a national title was Texas in 2005. The last non-SEC team to defeat an SEC team in a bowl game with a national championship on the line was the 1995 Nebraska team that defeated Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl. Since then, SEC teams have won 10 consecutive bowl games against non-SEC teams with a national title at stake.
Along with Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Cam Newton, Auburn's offensive line was its strength the last time it won a BCS National Championship, defeating Oregon 22-19 after the 2010 season. Auburn's offensive line, led by center Reese Dismukes and left tackle Greg Robinson, is very good again. Robinson, an NFL draft-eligible sophomore, is a potential first-round pick. Dismukes, a three-year starter, will have his hands full trying to block FSU tackles Eddie Goldman and Timmy Jernigan.
Nobody runs the ball as well as Auburn, which leads FBS teams in rushing with 335.7 yards per game. The Tigers ran for 323 yards against Georgia, 296 against Alabama and 545 in a 59-42 rout of then-No. 5 Missouri in the SEC championship game. The Tigers are the only FBS team in the country with four 600-yard runners: tailbacks Tre Mason (1,621 yards, 22 touchdowns), Corey Grant (650 yards, 6 touchdowns) and Cameron Artis-Payne (609 yards, 6 touchdowns) and quarterback Nick Marshall (1,023 yards, 11 touchdowns).
Was I the only one surprised that the latest winning Powerball ticket wasn't sold in the 334 area code? The Tigers seemed to be a team of destiny all season, and unless their lucky horseshoe fell out of you-know-where sometime during their flight from Alabama to Los Angeles, Lady Luck figures to be on their side again on Monday night. The Tigers defeated Georgia 43-38 on a deflected 73-yard touchdown pass with 25 seconds to go, and then stunned two-time defending national champion Alabama 34-28 in the Iron Bowl by returning a missed field goal more than 100 yards for a touchdown on the game's final play. If Auburn defeats FSU, it would become the first team since BYU in 1984 to win a national title after being unranked in the preseason.