Florida State will try to end the Southeastern Conference's seven-year run of dominance in Bowl Championship Series title games. Staff writers Gary Klein and Chris Dufresne examine some of the story lines of the last game of the BCS era:
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston won the Heisman Trophy, a status that does not guarantee a victory in the BCS championship game.
Heisman winners are 3-6 in title games in the seasons they were recognized as college football's most outstanding player.
USC quarterback Matt Leinart (2004), Alabama running back Mark Ingram (2009) and Auburn quarterback Cam Newton (2010) helped their teams to BCS titles in the seasons they won the Heisman.
Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke (2000), Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch (2001), Oklahoma quarterback Jason White (2003), USC running back Reggie Bush (2005), Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith (2006) and Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford (2008) lost in the BCS title game in their Heisman-winning seasons.
Winston won't be fazed if Florida State finds itself in a close game, Seminoles Coach Jimbo Fisher said.
"I don't think it'll make him blink one bit," he said.
Monday night's game concludes a week of Southern California activities for Auburn and Florida State.
Auburn center Reese Dismukes, a 6-foot-3, 297-pound junior from Spanish Fort, Ala., said one of the highlights was a meal at a nice Mexican restaurant. The Mexican food, he said, was "way better" than in Alabama.
"I didn't get any cheese dip. I like that in Alabama," he said. "They didn't have cheese dip at the one I went at. Us fat guys like cheese dip."
Florida State running back Devonta Freeman comes from a rough background in Miami, but he said he stayed on the straight and narrow by always looking for work opportunities.
Freeman said he worked at a funeral home at age 14.
"I used to carry flowers, carry the casket or something, the pallbearer," he said. "Throw the flowers in when they was going under the ground, open the limo for people when they arrived."
Freeman said he also mowed lawns, cleared yards and worked in a car wash.
Freeman, a junior, needs 57 yards to become Florida State's first 1,000-yard rusher since Warrick Dunn in 1996.
He hopes to one day start a foundation to help others overcome difficult circumstances.
"I just want to give back to the kids about my life story, get great people to come talk to them, people that came up like I came up in rough neighborhoods, hard times, that these kids know anything is possible," he said "All you have to do is go out there and make it, anything is possible."
What about Oprah?
Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn turned around a program that was 3-9 overall and 0-8 in the Southeastern Conference last season.
He knew the program could return to championship form, but did know how quickly.
"We did a lot of Dr. Phil-ing early," he said, "and our guys came together and they believed."
With a month to prepare for the title game, coaching staffs had plenty of time to research the opponent's tendencies — and history.
Fisher said several of his assistants have coached against Malzahn and know his "roots" from when he was a high school coach in Arkansas.
Fisher, the quarterbacks coach at Auburn in 1993-1998, has coached against Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson for years.
"I keep a running record of all the guys we've played against and books [on] all the guys we've ever played against for the last 10, 15 years," Fisher said.
Auburn and Florida State have played 18 times and Auburn leads the series, 13-4-1.
Florida State has won three of the last four games, including a 13-7 victory in the 1989 Sugar Bowl.
Auburn, however, won the last time they played. In 1990, the Tigers defeated Florida State, 20-17, at Jordan-Hare Stadium.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun