BCS National Championship Game, 7:30 p.m., ESPN; Does Auburn have magic left?
LOS ANGELES — One of the biggest questions looming ahead of Monday's crunch BCS National Championship game is whether the second-ranked Auburn Tigers can deliver one more moment of magic to upset favorites Florida State.
Improbably, the Tigers have earned themselves a shot at becoming U.S. college football's top team for a second time in four years, mainly because of their astonishing wins over Georgia and long-time rival Alabama in November.
The Tigers and top-ranked Crimson Tide were tied at 28-28 in their Iron Bowl showdown with just one second left in the fourth quarter, and overtime appeared to be on the cards as Alabama attempted a 57-yard field goal.
Their kicker, Adam Griffith, was short with his effort and Auburn senior safety Chris Davis, after catching the ball near the back of the end zone, shimmied right before veering left.
That play by Davis catapulted him into the limelight and has been described by many as one of the greatest of all time in college football, but he knows it will count for nothing in Monday's BCS National Championship game.
“My life has changed a lot since the Iron Bowl and every time I turn on the TV, ESPN, I'm seeing that play,” Davis, who was a freshman when the Tigers clinched the 2011 BCS title game, told reporters this week.
“But I'm trying to put that moment behind me. We've got a bigger task at hand come Monday. We're playing for the national championship, and we're trying to bring it back to the state of Alabama."
On Monday in the picturesque surrounds of the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California, (12-1) Auburn will face a formidable foe in Florida State, who are a perfect 13-0 this season and heavy favorites.
The Seminoles have won every game by at least 14 points and they are the top-ranked team in the country.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher oozed confidence.
“We expect the expectations, we expect to be here and I truly believe this, I don't believe we've played our best football game,”Fisher said of his team, who will play for the national title for the first time since the 2000 season.
“I really don't. I think our best football game is still out there and hopefully it'll come on Monday night. I've liked the way we've practiced, I've liked the way we've prepared. I think we're in a great mental state of mind."
Auburn's Gus Malzahn, in his first season as head coach, is banking on his team once again being able to come up with the big plays in the fourth quarter while avoiding any distractions from their remarkable and unpredictable path to the title game.
“Our team has done a very good job this year of not getting distracted by anything," said Malzahn, who was previously offensive coordinator for the Tigers. “This week has been no different.”
"The bottom line is our guys have found a way to win at the end of games when the pressure has been on. They've found a way to win in different ways, so I think that's been a big key to us getting here."