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Microscope set on Auburn defense going into title game

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Jermaine Whitehead and the Auburn defense aren't intimidated by FSU's high-powered offense - and for good reason. (Source: George Jones/Raycom News Network) Jermaine Whitehead and the Auburn defense aren't intimidated by FSU's high-powered offense - and for good reason. (Source: George Jones/Raycom News Network)
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NEWPORT BEACH, CA (RNN) - Is Auburn's defense helpless against Florida State's high-powered, sackful of hardware-winning offense?

If you want the short, blunt answer, the answer derived from looking at stats and from watching the SEC Championship Game against a Missouri offense that looks similar to FSU - well then, yes.

Numbers don't lie - so we're told - and the numbers say that not only is Auburn's defense not that great, but it is statistically not any greater than 86 other teams in the country in yards allowed.

But don't tell that to Auburn, not after that team survived Missouri (which scored 42 points), Texas A&M (41 points) and Georgia (38 points).

And whatever you do, you simply must not tell that to anyone who plays offense for Florida State.

"I don't know what to tell you. I don't believe in destiny," FSU center Bryan Stork said. "I believe you choose your destiny. Right now I guess they are choosing their destiny. They're the one who got the ball and kept running with it. I wouldn't say it's luck."

Need a Hail Mary to beat one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in the history of the SEC? No problem.

Want to win the game by returning a failed, last-second kick rather than take your chances in overtime? Eh, we can do that.

Dodging missiles from a Heisman winner who had looked practically unstoppable in two years in the SEC? Dude. Please!

But since we're talking about truth in numbers, the truth is Auburn gives up 24 points per game - not dazzling, but respectable considering some of the offense-heavy battles they have been locked in this season.

They installed a 4-2-5 defense in the offseason - their third system in as many years.

They had to face Texas A&M, Washington State, Ole Miss and Missouri - not exactly teams with a "three yards and a cloud of dust" philosophy.

But it didn't matter. They find a way. They have always found a way.

So the big questions arises: if and when the Tigers need that spark just once more, can they get it?

"I think seeing those type of players week-in and week-out definitely gets you ready for that," defensive back Jermaine Whitehead said. "I mean, seeing previous Heisman winners gets you ready for a guy that just won the Heisman. Playing against those guys a couple years now, watching them grow and watching how they transpired over the years, the depth of exactly what Winston has the capacity of. I think he's a great playmaker.

"I think being in those situations, also, has shown us how to be resilient, not give up when they make a big play."

Copyright 2014 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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