Jan. 6, 2014
Auburn defensive linemen Ken Carter, left, Dee Ford, Craig Sanders and Nosa Eguae will try to stop Florida State (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
PASADENA, Calif. -- Auburn will have to beat Heisman Trophy quarterback Jameis Winston if it wants to win the BCS national championship Monday night and…
You say, they've already beaten one?
Auburn beat last season's Heisman winner Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M in October, then beat this year's Heisman runner-up AJ MCarron and Alabama in November. The Tigers are 4-0 against the SEC's top four quarterbacks, and it may have been more if they had played No. 5 and 6.
No. 2 Auburn, 12-1 overall, will try to get another one when it meets No. 1 Florida State, 13-0, in Rose Bowl Stadium at 7:30 p.m., Auburn time, on ESPN.
It's going to be the last BCS Championship Game ever played before the college football moves to a four-team playoff next year. The Tigers want to win it, of course, to make it two national titles in the last four seasons.
Florida State is a touchdown-plus favorite, and one reason so is Winston's huge stats and the prospect of playing an Auburn defense that's ranked last in the SEC in defending the pass.
The Tigers have heard it before, then went out and beat Georgia, Alabama and Missouri heading into this game.
The simple scouting report on the offenses: Auburn leads the country in rushing. Florida State's balanced plan is ranked fifth nationally in total offense.
Winston has posted huge stats this season and his the prolific freshman in NCAA history, passing for 3,820 yards and 38 touchdowns. But Auburn defensive lineman Nosa Eguae says the Tigers have experience against big-time quarterbacks.
"In this league, in the SEC, you're going to play against great quarterbacks. You're going to play against NFL quarterbacks. Jameis is no different," Eguae said. "He's a guy that has similar attributes just like some of the other guys we've played in this league."
Other quarterbacks have put up stats against Auburn, especially between the 20s, but the Tigers get tougher as opponents get closer to the end zone. To get tougher on Winston, Eguae said, applying pressure is the key.
"For us, it's about doing what we did against the other ones: affect him, affect him, affect him."
Defensive end Dee Ford, the team's leader in tackles for a loss and sacks, knows that his job, too.
"I don't mind reiterating this because it's going to be stuck in my mind: You can't give him time," Ford said. "You can't do it. You can't do it. We know we can't do it. And I think the whole defense knows you can't give him time. He's a great quarterback. You can't give any quarterback time, but a quarterback like that you can't give them time."
Auburn will send its rotating defensive line, a line that has featured as many as 13 players in a game, against Winston.
Eguae says the line will be ready, young and old alike.
"We're a bunch of guys that's played a lot of football," he said. "We played a lot of games in the SEC. We played a lot of games in big time situation. We had guys that played in the national championship game.
"When it comes down to playing in the red zone, the end of the game when you need a stop, it's about players making plays. We got a group of guys collectively that's played a lot of football. Nothing surprises us. If we get caught in a situation, we have to go out there and execute. We're going to go out there and try to make the most of it in big-time situations."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine