NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — Auburn has been called a team of destiny.
Its run to the BCS National Championship Game has been forged on unthinkable finishes and close calls. It is a culmination of everything breaking right.
While some Tigers do not entirely dismiss the notion of fate playing a role in their miraculous season, some Seminoles refuse to link their success to any higher forces.
“God didn’t put us on this earth and give us a destiny,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “God put us on this earth to create our own destiny.
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“Destiny’s great, but I believe you create your own destiny.”
Unlike Auburn, FSU has not needed the ball to bounce its way. Auburn has the “Miracle at Jordan-Hare” and the “Kick Six.” FSU has defeated every team by at least 27 points aside from a 14-point win against Boston College.
Luck, however, has still played a role in FSU’s own march to the BCS National Championship Game at Rose Bowl Stadium, maybe more than Fisher would like to admit.
Injuries have been minimal for FSU (safety Tyler Hunter was the only starter lost for significant time), and its schedule has been manageable. Instead, the Seminoles’ biggest obstacle came off the field.
A rape allegation threatened to end Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston’s season. Charges were never filed against Winston, and the distraction never hindered the team’s performance.
“Every year, a team comes into college football and they just eliminate everybody. They seem like they can’t be touched,” FSU linebacker Telvin Smith said. “They seem like they’re at the top of their game. Everything works out for them.
“The football gods put that on us this year. We’ve worked for it, don’t get me wrong. But a lot of times stuff could have gone terribly to the left with the whole Jameis situation, with the whole injury situation; we could have lost many people.
“But again, we persevered and pushed and continued to believe in each other, and now we’re here.”
FSU enters the game as a 9.5-point favorite. Auburn carries with it the chance to give the SEC its eighth consecutive national championship. Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. and the game will air on ESPN.
“I feel like we’re the best. I’m not worried about them,” Florida State safety Terrence Brooks said. “I don’t know what all the talk is about SEC, but I feel like we can play with them any day. That’s something we’ve got to prove. They’ve won the championships but they haven’t played this team yet.”
FSU has outscored opponents by an average of 42.3 points per game, the largest margin of victory in modern college football. No other team has scored more points than FSU or allowed fewer. Comparably, Auburn has won six games by eight points or less.
“We’re lookin’ for a football game, we’re not lookin’ for a game that we go out there and blow everybody out,” Winston said. “Ain’t nothing wrong with blowing everybody out, but we’re looking for a football game and we expect Auburn to give us one.”
The narrative of FSU being the most dominant team in modern college football is almost complete. The only thing standing in FSU’s way is Auburn, the proclaimed team of destiny.
“They’ve had some crazy wins,” FSU defensive end Christian Jones said. “The way I see it, they’re a team that knows how to finish games. I wouldn’t say it’s destiny, they’ve just capitalized on teams that have let down at the end.”