Mr. Sports: Is Auburn for real?

By Bob Labbe
By Bob Labbe

Monday’s BCS National Championship Game between top ranked Florida State and No.2 Auburn is one of the strangest games to dissect that I can remember.

The main question: “Is Auburn for real?”

The answer most likely is yes. The Tigers have evolved through the season building one each level of its play to the next on a week-by-week basis. I believe most of that building blocks became solid to the ground in the games versus Alabama and Missouri. I do believe the Georgia victory was certainly stemming from one of the luckiest moments in college football in years. But good teams get lucky.

So, this Auburn team is good. Is it good enough to continue its run into the title game against what most likely is the best team they have faced? Florida State brings an array of impressive statistics into the battle with Auburn. The Seminoles have the top rated scoring defense and red-zone offense and third overall total defense. Auburn has the top rushing offense in the country, while FSU has the 14th rated rushing defense.

When looking at the stats you see why Florida State is favored by least a touchdown. Auburn may not have the best numbers coming into the national championship game, but the Tigers do have something special. Just ask Alabama and Missouri. The Seminoles will have to stop the hurry-up offense of Auburn. Alabama would bend, but many times stood up to the challenge. Florida State will have to do that and more to earn that coveted crystal ball signifying the national title.

My knowledge of the game urges me to pick Florida State. My gut tells me Auburn is going to win. If Auburn cannot outscore the Seminoles, FSU could run away from the Tigers. ESPN will carry the kickoff at 7:30 p.m. on Monday. I look for the game to come to this: can Heisman Trophy winning FSU quarterback Jameis Winston continue his marvelous play against an Auburn defense that has gotten better, but is not great? The answer is: Yes. Florida State wins by 4.

Bowl Games

The remainder of the interesting bowl games leading up to the big one includes nine other SEC teams led by Alabama-Oklahoma (ESPN, Jan. 2, 7:30 p.m.), Missouri-Oklahoma State (Channel 54, Jan. 3, 6:30 p.m.) and Georgia-Nebraska (ESPN2, Jan. 1, 11 a.m.). I also like the Rose Bowl: Stanford-Michigan State (ESPN, Jan. 1, 4 p.m.) and the Orange Bowl with Clemson-Ohio State (ESPN, Jan. 3, 7 p.m.).

My crystal ball indicates the winners in those bowls to be Alabama over Oklahoma, Oklahoma State beating Missouri, Georgia over Nebraska, Stanford over Michigan State and Ohio State defeating Clemson.

Whatever your fancy on what team you pull for during this bowl season, please have fun.

Kerryon Johnson

All-State football player and highly recruited Kerryon Johnson of Madison Academy was busy last week helping his basketball team in the annual Huntsville Times Classic. The two-sport star is still hobbled by the ankle injury he received during the season for the Mustangs football team. He’s still a marvel to watch on the court.

Rumor has it Johnson has debated on where he will attend college as one of the most highly recruited players in the state in his junior year at the Class 3A private school. The word circulating around the Huntsville High gymnasium, sight of the Huntsville Times Classic, is Johnson has decided on attending Alabama after he exits high school in 2015. No official word on Johnson’s decision, but normally when items like this begin circulating around high school students, it’s usually an indication Johnson made his decision unofficially, but told someone who told someone who then told someone else.

He’s still making some official visits in the next few weeks to Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Florida State and one other unnamed large school elsewhere in the U.S. He may make his verbal commitment as early as this Spring. When that happens, be assured you’ll find out about right here in the Madison Weekly News.

Happy New Year!