Florida State's offense was 2-12 on third down situations while Auburn was 10-18. Auburn had 25 first downs to 19 for FSU. Auburn ran 80 snaps, Florida State ran 66 and you can add more statistical comparisons that show the Tigers could have won the game in Pasadena.
One thing that stood out to me is that both teams played really hard. What happened is time ran out on the Tigers. The Seminoles had enough time to score when they got the ball back for the last time and the Tigers didn't. You have to credit Florida State for making that happen. The Tigers should have held the Seminoles on FSU's final possession, but didn't. I think the long pass play on the late FSU scoring drive really took the Tigers out of the ball game.
When you boil it down Auburn's offense outplayed FSU's defense and Auburn's defense outplayed FSU defense. Where the Tigers lost the game was on special teams, giving up 17 points on a missed field goal, a fake punt that led to a touchdown and a kickoff return for a touchdown. That was more than the Auburn defense and offense were able to make up against a team like Florida State. That is as simple as I can put it.
The Tigers made some mistakes on offense and defense, but not enough to get them beat. It was the kicking game that was the difference.
Auburn fans should certainly be proud of this team. I know I am. Coach Malzahn and his staff had a great game plan. The Tigers scored 31 points and really should have scored another time or two with one touchdown pass dropped and other opportunities missed in addition to the field goal that was off target.
FSU's offense that had been putting up huge numbers only scored 28 points and in my opinion the Tigers played their best defensive game of the season, which is a tribute to Coach Ellis Johnson, his defensive staff and the players.
I have never seen an Auburn football team play any harder on either side of the ball than the way the Tigers played in the BCS Championship Game and that makes you proud to be an Auburn man.
Yes, it was disappointing the Tigers didn't come home as national champions, but the upside is most of the players who were on the field in Pasadena will be back for another season or two. If the 2014 team gets the right type of senior leadership I?believe the 2014 Tigers will be better than they were in 2013.
The 2013 team had great leadership and I think there a lot of guys coming back who will be good in those roles.
I am sure that going into next season that Florida State will beranked No. 1 in the nation, but I would rather have the team Auburn has coming back than the one FSU?has. Auburn fans have a lot to look forward to as their team faces what should be a very challenging schedule.
Playing Kansas State on the road is going to be tougher than opening with Washington State at home. Playing both Georgia in Athens and Alabama in Tuscaloosa will be tougher than it was this year playing those rivalry games at home, but I believe the Tigers will have a football team that is better equipped to face that challenge than the 2013 was. I have never been more excited than I am about where the Auburn football program is now and where it is headed.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor's Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming.