Auburn's defense yields big yards, makes key stops

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) -- Auburn's defense has confounded even coordinator Ellis Johnson at times.

The second-ranked Tigers are 87th nationally in total defense and yet have thrived in clutch situations. They'll face a huge challenge in No. 1 Florida State and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston in Monday night's BCS title game.

Johnson says he's been around dominant defenses and poor defenses that don't come through in critical situations.

He says the Tigers have been different despite some ''terrible-looking overall statistics.''

There's plenty of positives for the 38-year coaching veteran. Namely Auburn has come through with key stops late in a number of close games, even against star quarterbacks like 2012 Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, this year's runner-up, AJ McCarron, and Georgia's Aaron Murray

The Tigers rank eighth nationally in red zone defense.