The 2013 Heisman Trophy winner takes on an Auburn team Monday in which he has several personal connections, including the fact that the Tigers are from his home state and that his former mentor, Dameyune Craig, left FSU last year to take the co-offensive coordinator position on The Plains.
Winston has said that he was extremely close to the former Florida State quarterbacks coach and he even joked recently about deleting his number so that he wouldn't call Craig before the game.
Without Craig, Winston has flourished, though, and has benefitted from the teaching of Jimbo Fisher and Craigss replacement, Randy Sanders.
That Sanders-Winston relationship has been a key factor in the latter's incredible redshirt freshman year.
"The trust and respect, you try to give it but you don't have it until it's earned," Sanders said. "To earn it takes time. So it was a process through the spring and summer and then through the fall to build that type of relationship."
That relationship, and Winston's pure ability and football IQ have made him difficult to defeat.
"[Winston is] a heady guy," Auburn defensive end Nosa Eguae said. "He's a great quarterback. He makes great decisions."
FSU defensive back Lamarcus Joyner said it best about Auburn's star tailback.
While in attendance with Mason as well as several of his 'Noles teammates at the ESPN College Football Awards last month, Joyner called Mason a "manimal" and that sums up the Heisman Trophy finalist quite well.
Mason has the speed to bounce runs outside but the strength and power to drag potential tacklers between the hash marks.
In the SEC Championship Game, the Palm Beach, Fla. native singlehandedly carried the Tigers to a national title berth by setting conference championship-game record for both yards rushing (303) and rushing touchdowns (four) on a whopping 45 carries.
Auburn is going to feed the rock to Mason early and often Monday night and the 'Noles know it.
"They're going to run the football," FSU defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt said. "Everybody knows they're going to run the football, and you've got to be able to stop them."
With Mason leading the charge and quarterback Nick Marshall over 1,000 yards on the ground this season, Auburn enters the final game of the year year ranked No. 1 in the country in rushing yards per game.
There's no secret to Auburn's 2013 formula. The Tigers have run the football down opponents' throats en route to a SEC Championship and trip to their second BCS National Championship Game in three years.
Teams come into each game against Auburn knowing exactly what War Eagle is going to do. So, why does it work?
"They're really good up front, and their quarterback, he's so fast, he has the ability to get to the edge of the defenses, work up to the second level," said Jernigan, who has been a key cog in FSU's ability to stop the run this year. "And the running back, you can't tackle him one on one. He's going to make the first guy miss. So we have to do a great job at gang tackling and getting him to the ground."
Jernigan has paved the way in the middle of the line for a first-team FSU defense that hasn't allowed a single rushing score all season and if that group can extend that streak Monday night in California, FSU may be hoising its third crystal trophy in program history.
Is Auburn one of the better teams nationally on defense?
No. But the Tigers do have elite athletes on that side of the ball and their appearance in Monday's showdown isn't by accident; they had to make key defensive plays all season to reach the BCS National Championship.
While the Tigers do allow nearly 425 yards per game, they still boast a star edge rusher in Ford, who has the ability to impact both the passing and rushing games by the 'Noles.
Ford comes into the championship game with team highs in tackles for loss (12 1/2) and sacks (8 1/2).
Monday, Ford will be focused on using those talents to disrupt Winston on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage.
"We definitely want to put pressure on this quarterback, really affect his decisions," Ford said," and that's what we're working to do."