The story lines for the BCS National Championship have been set and they could not be any clearer. On one side, you have the arm of Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston leading the offensive attack of the Florida State Seminoles. On the other, it’s Tre Mason carrying an up-tempo rushing attack for the Auburn Tigers. But FSU isn’t just the golden arm of Winston on the offensive side of the ball. They boast a pretty strong running attack of their own that keeps the Noles’ attack as balanced as anyone in the country. It’s that balance that gives Florida State the edge for the national title.
While Auburn had an explosive running attack in 2013, Florida State’s was no slouch either. The Noles ranked No. 24 in rushing offense this season, averaging 207.38 yards per game. Last season, FSU was considered one of the better running teams in the country and they’ve only been better in 2013 despite the running game getting no attention. After scoring 40 touchdowns on the ground last season, the Noles have scored 41 rushing touchdowns going into bowl season in 2013 (just five fewer than Auburn).
And they have done it by committee this season with three different running backs giving huge contributions out of the backfield. Devonta Freeman leads the way this season, gaining 943 yards on 162 carries with 13 rushing touchdowns. If Freeman gains 57 yards in the championship game, he’ll become the first FSU running back to rush for 1,000 yards in a season in the last 17 years. Behind him, converted defensive back Karlos Williams and 2012 ACC Championship Game MVP James Wilder, Jr., have given solid contributions as well, rushing for 705 and 542 yards, respectively, with 19 combined touchdowns.
That underrated ability to run the football has been a huge key to FSU’s dominance in 2013. With the focus on stopping Winston and the passing game, the Noles have been able to carve opponents up with a trio of gamebreakers in the backfield, giving the Seminoles incredible balance on offense. That balance will be a huge factor in the BCS National Championship and could be the key to Florida State snapping the SEC title streak.