Seminoles End SEC Streak
January 9, 2014
The BCS era came to a close Monday night and it did so with a thriller. Florida State captured the 2014 National Championship with a stirring 34-31 comeback victory over Auburn. The victory ended a seven-year streak of SEC teams winning national titles. Yes, the BCS is history as a long-awaited playoff system begins next season. It would have been fitting for Auburn to hold on and win the 2014 crown as the SEC completely dominated the BCS era, especially of late.
The BCS title game took place at the Rose Bowl. Interestingly enough, the last non-SEC team to win a national title did so in Pasadena, when Texas quarterback Vince Young found the end zone on fourth-and-5 to end USC’s dynasty after the 2005 campaign.
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher, over the years, has made statements of how he wanted his program to emulate SEC programs. In other words, recruit speed at every position on the field. The ACC is thankful one of its coaches is catching on.
The ACC entered Monday night’s game with an all-time record of 4-14 in BCS games. And that dreadful mark included a two-game winning streak heading into Monday, thanks to Clemson upending LSU last year and Ohio State this year.
Panthers Playoff Preview
The Carolina Panthers start season two this weekend as it hosts a playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers earned their way here with a grueling 23-20 victory at Green Bay on Sunday. The 49ers won behind the passing and running of Colin Kaepernick and tough defense. The Panthers earned the week off as the No. 2 seed. The teams met during the regular season with the Panthers edging San Francisco, 10-9, on the road.
The initial matchup was clearly a defensive battle. Carolina completely took Kaepernick out of the game as the second-year starter was limited to 107 total yards, 91 passing and 16 rushing. The Panthers defensive front, led by Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson, dominated the game.
One difference this time around is that the 49ers best receiver, Michael Crabtree, is back from injury. His return has led Kaepernick putting up better numbers of late. Crabtree is coming off a 100-yard receiving day against the Packers.
I think the Panthers will need to score 20 points or more to win this game. That means quarterback Cam Newton needs to make more of an impact this time around. Newton has had a nice season and it is clear he is developing into one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. But this is playoff time and part of the development is leading a team to a playoff win, especially at home.
I have a bad feeling about this one. San Francisco is playing better then ever and are still smarting from losing at last year’s Super Bowl.
More NFL Playoff Talk
There are three other playoff games this weekend. The winner of the Panthers’ game will square off against the winner of New Orleans/Seattle.
We likely caught a glimpse of how the Saints will fare in Seattle back in early December when the Seahawks blew them out, 34-7. Seattle earned the top seed in the NFC, and lost only once at home. The Cardinals beat them in Week 16 in Seattle.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had a field day versus New Orleans last time out. The second year quarterback threw for 310 yards and three touchdown passes. Saints quarterback Drew Brees did not have enough time in the pocket to put up similar numbers. New Orleans will have to find a way to run the ball this week to take some of the pressure off of Brees.
The AFC will also throw two games at us this weekend. First up is Indianapolis at New England on Saturday night. The Colts come into this one off their impressive 45-44 come-from-behind victory against the Kansas City Chiefs. They were down 28 points and rallied behind quarterback Andrew Luck. The Patriots are the No. 2 seed in the AFC and were resting last week. These two didn’t play in the regular season so we do not have any clues on how this one will play out. I can see Luck and Indy putting some points on the board against New England. But I do not see Tom Brady allowing his offense to blow a big lead.
Indy will rely heavily on Luck and his favorite receiver T.Y. Hilton. Normally, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick finds a scheme to take players out of their comfort zone. If he does so here, the Colts have little else to throw at the Pats. Still, I would not count Luck out of any contest.
The other AFC matchup has San Diego traveling to Denver. The Chargers earned their way to face the Broncos for the third time this year by going to Cincinnati and disposing of the Bengals. They turned in a masterful defensive performance against the Bengals, getting four turnovers.
They also ran the ball on offense. The last time these two teams met, the Chargers won by a 27-20 count in Denver. San Diego surprised the home folk the same way they won last weekend, defense and running the ball.
Keep in mind that Denver did win at San Diego earlier this season. The Broncos earned the bye by being the top seed in the AFC with Peyton Manning putting up record passing numbers.
I like Denver big here though I wonder if Manning will start to press if the game gets close late. Everyone, Manning included, knows that the lone chink in Manning’s legacy is his less than remarkable performances in playoff games.