NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. - From the time redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston assumed control of No. 1 Florida State's offense, he has called upon his teammates to dominate opposing defenses and then made it look easy. Just because he's facing No. 2 Auburn for the BCS championship Monday night at the Rose Bowl doesn't mean Winston is modifying that approach.
"Guys, where in the rule book does it say we can't blow out everybody we play?" Winston asked after leading his team to a 13-0 record, all of the wins by at least 14 points. "Alabama blew out Notre Dame in the championship game last year. We can do anything we want to do."
Some coaches might ask their players to tone down the rhetoric, but Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher doesn't question how Winston will react if he faces fourth-quarter pressure for the first time all season from the high-scoring Tigers. "I think he'll react the same," Fisher said Sunday. Speaking of the season opener on national TV, Fisher added, "He walked out at Pittsburgh with all the expectations at the beginning of the year, the hype coming onto the national stage with a national game, and went 25 of 27 [passing].
"He played with the pressure that every play is the national championship . . . We create that atmosphere every day. I don't think it'll make him blink one bit."
Beating Manziel a turning point
When Gus Malzahn returned to Auburn as the replacement for Gene Chizik after spending a year as Arkansas State's coach, he told a team that had gone 3-9 and 0-8 in the SEC that it was a "new day." The Tigers got off to a 5-1 start, but the turning point came when they visited Texas A&M and 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and pulled off a 45-41 upset.
"That made me feel we had a shot," running back Tre Mason said. "At that time, they had the best player in college football. We found a way to stop him at the end, and we put up a lot of yards against them. After that game, we felt like we had a chance to go pretty far."
Extra game will be taxing
Next season, the two-team BCS title game will give way to a four-team playoff, adding an extra game for the two teams that reach the final. "It will be a very tough thing because of the mental capacity required to get up that many times," Fisher said. "Kids will adapt, but it's going to be that much harder to get where you want to go, for sure."