As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
Monday, January 6
8:30: Florida State vs. Auburn (BCS Championship Game @ Pasadena, CA; ESPN): Both of these teams actually have pretty solid defenses (especially FSU), but it’s really hard to see how offense won’t prevail here. (Then again, FSU’s defense did shut down Clemson, easily the best offense their defense faced all year.) I’m predicting a high-scoring shootout where the last team with the ball probably wins. In this scenario, a defensive stop or two will probably decide the game, so I guess I’m basically betting on FSU getting that stop. There’s also a bit of a temptation to point out that FSU pretty much went out and won all their games, while Auburn is two fluke plays away from being in the Outback Bowl or something. But hey, there’s always got be a lot of luck involved in the course of winning a championship based on one game.
Previous meetings: Likely thanks to FSU’s history as an independent patsy (remember: football in the state of Florida basically didn’t exist until 1980 or so), these teams have met 18 times. The first was in 1954, a 33-0 Auburn win. The two teams met regularly until 1963, with FSU earning their best result in that era with a 14-14 tie in 1962. The series resumed again in 1972, being played nearly every other year until 1990 (after which FSU joined the ACC). Florida State’s first win in the series wasn’t until 1977, when they won 24-3. They would only win three more times, in 1987 and 1989 twice due to a meeting in the Sugar Bowl. Auburn won the last meeting in 19980, 20-17. Overall, Auburn leads the series 13-4-1.
Last bowl game: Florida State owns the nation’s longest bowl streak, and it really isn’t even close. This is their 32nd straight bowl game (compared to Virginia Tech’s 21st). The streak dates back roughly to FSU’s ascendance as a national power, but they lost the first game in the streak 24-7 in the 1979/80 Orange bowl to Oklahoma. (FSU went 8-3 in 1978 but didn’t get a bowl bid, if they had, the streak would actually be 34 games since they made a bowl in 1977. Of course, things were different back then and FSU didn’t really beat anyone that year.) FSU beat Northern Illinois 31-10 in last season’s Orange Bowl. Auburn, as you probably know by now, went 3-9 last year and didn’t go to a bowl, so their last bowl game was the 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl, a 43-24 win over Virginia.
Announcers: Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit. Don’t forget, though, that ESPN is doing a “megacast” of the game, with alternate presentations available on the entire ESPN family of networks. I’m personally interested in the hopefully more tactically oriented broadcast on ESPN2.