8:30 PM ET, January 6, 2014
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
Florida State Wins BCS National Championship
PASADENA, Calif. -- For all Jameis Winston had accomplished as a redshirt freshman for Florida State, he never had to pull the Seminoles from the brink of defeat.
In the biggest game of the season, down by four with 79 seconds left, the Heisman Trophy winner put together the drive of his life, and the Seminoles proved they could take a punch and win a championship.
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Winston threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds left and No. 1 Florida State beat No. 2 Auburn 34-31 to win the BCS national title Monday night.
"There's a lot of heart and guts down in Tallahassee, too," Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said.
The Bowl Championship Series went out with a bang, with one of the best title games in its 16-year history. It will be replaced by a four-team playoff next season. And the Southeastern Conference's seven-year winning streak in college football's biggest game was snapped by the Atlantic Coast Conference school that played in the first three BCS title games but hadn't been back since.
Florida State was voted a unanimous No. 1 in the final Associated Press Top 25. Auburn finished second.
Winston struggled much of the game but was near perfect when the Seminoles (14-0) needed it most, going 6-of-7 passing for 77 yards on the game-winning 80-yard drive.
"It was the best football game he's played all year," Fisher said, "and I'll tell you why, because for three quarters he was up and down and he fought.
"And to pull it out in the atmosphere and environment and with what was on the line tonight, to me if that's not a great player, I don't know who is."
Winston was 20 of 35 for 237 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdown passes. He zipped the Seminoles down the field on the final drive, boosted by a 49-yard catch and run from Rashad Greene.
Florida State also got help from Auburn. A pass interference penalty on Chris Davis on third-and-8 from the 10 gave Florida State a first down at the 2.
"Thought it was great defense. That's all I can say," Davis said, adding, the officials "should have just let us play."
On the next play, Winston passed high to the 6-foot-5 Benjamin for a touchdown.
Mason Racks Up The Yards
It came in a losing effort, but Tre Mason's 195 rushing yards were the second most in a BCS title game behind Vince Young's 200 in the 2006 Rose Bowl.
Most Rushing Yards
BCS Championship Game
BCS Championship Game
|Chris Wells||Ohio State||146|
"Once the ball is in the air on that post route, I've got to go get it, and I did," Benjamin said. "Simple as that."
There was no miracle finish this time for the turnaround Tigers (12-2), who went from 3-9 to SEC champions in their first season under coach Gus Malzahn. They tossed the ball around on one final play, but it ended with Florida State jumping on a fumble and the Seminoles sprinting onto the field under a storm of garnet and gold confetti.
Florida State scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, and the teams combined for 24 in a breathtaking last 4:42.
"It felt storybook again," Auburn defensive tackle Gabe Wright said. "It really felt like we were going to bring it out again. We're just on the other end of the stick. It's usually us going out on the field and celebrating. It's been a long time since we had an 'L' in this locker room."
Auburn won nine straight to get here after starting the season unranked.
Tre Mason gave the Tigers a 31-27 lead with a 37-yard touchdown run with 1:19 left after Levonte Whitfield had put Florida State in the lead for the first time since the first quarter with a 100-yard kickoff return to make it 27-24 with 4:31 left.
Mason ran for 195 yards and Nick Marshall threw two touchdown passes for the Tigers.
"I told them in the locker room, we put together the biggest turnaround in the history of college football. We were on the brink of making it one of those magical seasons," Malzahn said.
Florida State hadn't been challenged like this all season, winning by an average of 42 points.
Seminoles Never Quit
Florida State's 18-point deficit is the largest overcome to win the BCS national championship.
Largest Deficit Overcome
To Win BCS Championship
To Win BCS Championship
|Florida State||18||2014 BCS Championship|
|Texas||12||2006 Rose Bowl|
|LSU||10||2008 BCS Championship|
Florida State and Winston's biggest problem this season came off the field. Winston was investigated for a year-old sexual assault complaint in November, but after three weeks the Florida state attorney's office determined it did not have enough evidence to charge him.
Winston, who turned 20 on Monday, told his teammates before the final drive: "'Guys, we didn't come here for no reason.' I said, 'Y'all, this is ours, man.'"
The Seminoles were down 21-3 in the first half, and wobbling, but never fell over.
And now Florida State is national champion for the first time since 1999, the first team to win the BCS title game after being down at halftime.
Winston was jumpy against a strong Auburn pass rush, led by Dee Ford. Winston was sacked four times.
The Seminoles cut it to 21-10 with a late touchdown in the second quarter, following a faked punt and a tough 21-yard run by Winston, and chipped into Auburn's lead with a 41-yard field goal by Roberto Aguayo with 6:05 left in the third.
Meanwhile, Florida State had found some answers to Auburn's spread offense. A holding penalty that wiped out a long pass also helped keep the Tigers scoreless in the third quarter, and the Seminoles began the fourth with P.J. Williams intercepting Marshall's pass and setting up Florida State at its 38.
After Winston tossed in the flat to Chad Abram, who hurdled over a tackler on the way to an 11-yard touchdown, the Auburn lead was 21-19. Florida State was considering going for two to tie, but Devonta Freeman was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and that pushed the extra point back 15 yards and compelled the Seminoles to kick and make it 21-20.
Auburn responded with Cody Parkey's 22-yard field goal to make it 24-20 with 4:42 left.
During Winston's record-breaking season, filled with blowouts and fourth quarters spent watching from the sideline, he never faced a situation in which he had to drive his team to a winning score.
Now he had a chance to add that last line to his remarkable resume -- until Whitfield handled it for him.
Whitfield broke through a seam around the 30 and hit the sideline at full speed. Fisher ran down the other sideline yelling "Go! Go!" with Winston chasing behind, pumping his arms and slapping his coach on the back. Florida State was on top, but Auburn was not done and Winston would be called upon one last time.
"Only thing is we're victorious and glad to say Florida State is the national champion again, and I guarantee you we're bringing that swag back," Winston said. "You'd better believe it."
It was over when... Jameis Winston found Kelvin Benjamin in the back of the end zone on a two-yard pass with 13 seconds remaining.
Gameball goes to... Winston. The Heisman Trophy winner threw for 237 yards and two scores with no interceptions. He also ran for 26 yards.
Stat of the game... 1-for-1. The Seminoles were perfect on fourth down. A fake punt late in the first half preserved a touchdown drive.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||2-12||10-18|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||0-0|
|FG||09:53||Roberto Aguayo 35 Yd||3||0|
|TD||03:07||Tre Mason 12 Yd Pass From Nick Marshall (Cody Parkey Kick)||3||7|
|TD||13:48||Melvin Ray 50 Yd Pass From Nick Marshall (Cody Parkey Kick)||3||14|
|TD||05:01||Nick Marshall 4 Yd Run (Cody Parkey Kick)||3||21|
|TD||01:28||Devonta Freeman 3 Yd Run (Roberto Aguayo Kick)||10||21|
|FG||06:05||Roberto Aguayo 41 Yd||13||21|
|TD||10:55||Chad Abram 11 Yd Pass From Jameis Winston (Roberto Aguayo Kick)||20||21|
|FG||04:42||Cody Parkey 22 Yd||20||24|
|TD||04:31||Levonte Whitfield 100 Yd Kickoff Return (Roberto Aguayo Kick)||27||24|
|TD||01:19||Tre Mason 37 Yd Run (Cody Parkey Kick)||27||31|
|TD||00:13||Kelvin Benjamin 2 Yd Pass From Jameis Winston (Roberto Aguayo Kick)||34||31|
At its lowest point, Florida State's win probability fell to 8.9% before its fake punt on 4th and 4 in the second quarter. After the fake punt, Florida State went down to score a touchdown to cut the deficit to 21-10 heading into the half.
In the fourth quarter, Winston's average pass traveled 3.6 yards past the line of scrimmage, his lowest average pass distance for any quarter this season. In the first three quarters combined, Winston averaged 10.8 air yards per pass attempt.
Florida State's first drive after halftime was the fourth of the game where the Seminoles failed to get a first down, tied for their most in a game this season.
Auburn converted 8 of 12 third-down attempts in the first half, including a 12-yard touchdown in the first quarter on third and nine. In second half, Florida State adjusted and held Auburn to two first downs on six third-down plays.[+]
Auburn Third-Down Offense
Florida State's 21-3 deficit late in the first half is its largest of the season. The Seminoles largest previous deficit was 14 points against Boston College.
170 FBS players have thrown more 4th-quarter passes than Winston's 25 this season, and 47 teams have at least 2 players that have thrown more 4th-quarter passes.
The states of Florida and Alabama dominated the BCS era as it came to a close. Those 2 states won the last 6 straight BCS National Championship games and 7 of the last 8. Alabama (3) and Auburn (1) brought home 4 for the Heart of Dixie over that span, and Florida (2) and Florida State (1) won 3 for the Sunshine State. In the BCS era, the state of Florida won 5: Florida 2 (2006, 2008) Florida State 2 (1999, 2013) Miami 1 (2001) And the state of Alabama won 4: Alabama 3 (2009, 2011, 2012) Auburn 1 (2010)
Florida State's 18-point deficit was the largest ever overcome to win the BCS championship.[+]
Largest Deficit Overcome to Win BCS Championship
Tough start for Winston, held without a touchdown in the 1st half. Entering today, he had 26 1st-half touchdown passes this season (2nd in FBS), and accounted for 67.5% of his passing yardage in the 1st half.[+]
Jameis Winston 1st Half Passing This Season
Florida State now ties arch-rival Florida for the 2nd-most national titles in the state.[+]
Most Recognized National Championships - By Florida Schools All-Time
Jameis Winston completed 9 of 11 passes in the fourth quarter for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Entering the game, 170 FBS players had thrown more fourth-quarter passes than Winston's 25 this season, and 47 teams had at least two players throw more such passes.[+]
Jameis Winston Passing
In the last 10 seasons, there have been 3 BCS Championship matchups between an undefeated team and a one-loss team. All 3 times, the one-loss team won the game, each time by at least 20 points.[+]
Unbeaten Teams vs One-Loss Teams - In BCS Championship Last 10 Seasons
Florida State is trailing for the first time in 583 minutes and 42 seconds of game time. The last time they trailed prior to their 7-3 deficit tonight was Sept. 28 against Boston College
After struggling on 4 straight drives, the Seminoles put together a key touchdown drive to end the first half.[+]
Florida State Offense - In First Half
After Auburn's 50-yard touchdown, the Tigers are now 2-of-3 with a touchdown on passes of 15 yards or longer. Entering the game, Florida State's opponents had completed 18 of 73 (24.7%) passes thrown 15 yards or longer, the fewest completions and second-lowest completion percentage allowed of any AQ defense.
Following Tre Mason's 37-yard run for a touchdown with 1:19 left, Florida State's win probability was 6% before receiving the kickoff.
Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo is 2-for-2 on field goal tries today and is now 21-of-22 this season. He's alone for 2nd in the FBS now, making 95.4% of his kicks. His only miss was a 43-yarder against Wake Forest.
Auburn has sacked Jameis Winston 4 times entering the 4th quarter, marking just the 2nd time this season FSU has allowed 4 sacks (also allowed 4 sacks against Boston College).
Jameis Winston led all of the FBS with an 89.0 Total QBR. But remember Florida State's 13 games this season were the 1st of Winston's career. The average Total QBR of all FBS quarterbacks in the last 10 seasons in their 1st 13 career games is 48.3.
Auburn's 21 points so far are the most allowed by Florida State in a first half this season.
After Auburn's 12-yard touchdown with 3:07 remaining in the first quarter, Florida State is trailing for the first time since Sept. 28 at Boston College. It has been 583:42 minutes since Florida State last trailed.
Tre Mason scored his 34th career TD and 24th this season, but it was his 1st receiving touchdown.
Auburn attempted 8 passes in the 1st quarter. Entering today, the Tigers have averaged 19.9 pass attempts per game this season, 118th out of 123 FBS teams. They only averaged 14.0 per game since Week 10, which ranks 122nd.
The Seminoles' defense is predicated on causing turnovers. Florida State is T-3rd in the nation with 34 forced turnovers this season and is T-1st in the nation with 25 interceptions. Florida State has 16 players with at least 1 interception this season. The last time a school had that many players with a pick was coincidentally the last season that a non-SEC team won the national title: 2005 by Southern Cal, which lost 41-38 to Texas in the BCS National Championship Game ... which was played in the Rose Bowl.[+]
Most Players With At Least 1 Int In A Season - Last 10 Seasons
According to ESPN Stats & Information's strength of schedule metric, Florida State's strength of schedule is the worst among any team in the BCS title game in the last 10 seasons. The 3 teams with the next-worst S.O.S. ranks (2006 Ohio State, 2007 Ohio State, and 2009 Texas) all lost to SEC opponents by at least 14 points in the title game.[+]
Worst Strength Of Schedule Entering BCS Championship - Last 10 Seasons
Florida State's win probability at the half is 18%, its lowest all season. In its first 13 games, the Seminoles' average in-game win probability at halftime was 92% and never had lower than a 65% chance of winning after the first 30 minutes of play.
Nick Marshall is now 4-for-5 passing with 2 TD against 5+ pass rushers.
Only 1 of the last 7 BCS National Championship games has been decided by single digits (Auburn's win over Oregon in the 2010 season)
ESPN Stats & Information