End Of An Era For FSU In Rose Bowl

There will be a new Mythical National Champion in college football. The defending champion and last of the BCS era, #3 Florida State (13-1), will not get a chance to defend their crown in the final of the first CFB Playoff, following a dismantling at the hands of #2 Oregon (13-1) in the Rose Bowl on Thursday. The Ducks beat the Seminoles 59-20, representing an embarrassing end to Florida State’s 29-game winning streak that dated back to 2012.

In contrast to much of the 2014 season the Seminoles got off to a fast start on defense and enjoyed an early lead. The Florida State defense held the explosive Oregon offense to a quick three-and-out on the first series, and sophomore kicker Roberto Aguayo put the Seminoles up 3-0 with a 28-yard field goal less than five minutes into the contest.

However, the early Florida State energy was short lived thanks to the fast tempo Oregon offense. Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Marcus Mariota quickly lead the Ducks down the field on a nine play, 73 yard drive that took only 2:11, and was capped by a one yard touchdown run from freshman Royce Freeman. Following their usual script, the Ducks tried and converted a two point conversion, to give themselves an early 8-3 advantage.

Florida State appeared to take the lead on a fourth-and-goal play to begin the second, but quarterback Jameis Winston was ruled down before he crossed the goal line on a short run, giving the ball back to Oregon. The Ducks then embarked on an 88-yard drive that began at their own endzone, and ended with a 28-yard field goal from Aidan Schneider to extend their lead to eight points.

Florida State responded with a field goal of their own, but Mariota and company would continue to frustrate a Seminoles defense that couldn’t keep pace. The Ducks scored on a short touchdown run from Thomas Tyner with 2:18 left to play in the first half. However, like they did through much of 2014 the Seminoles would cut a double-digit lead down just before halftime. Running back Karlos Williams scored on a ten yard run with 36 seconds left, and Florida State went into the break down 18-13 following a field goal miss by Aguayo as time expired in the first half.

A fumble by freshman Seminole running back Dalvin Cook on the opening drive of the second half opened the door for Oregon to expand their lead back to double-digits, and they converted on Freeman’s second rushing touchdown of the game. A touchdown reception by Travis Rudolph on an 18-yard pass provided an answer from Florida State, but consecutive touchdowns from Mariota to Darren Carrington began to put the game out of reach for the Seminoles. The second touchdown between the two followed the second Cook fumble of the third quarter, and expanded the Ducks lead to 39-20.

The game was put out of reach for Florida State at the end of the third when Winston committed the third fumble of the quarter for the Seminoles, which was returned 58 yards to the house by Tony Washington, and then threw an interception on the team’s ensuing drive. Oregon continued to pile it on the defending National Champions as Mariota opened the final 15 minutes by rushing 23 yards for another Ducks touchdown. With their spirit broken, Florida State committed their fifth turnover of the second half and Oregon turned it into another touchdown, a 21-yard run for Tyner to make it 59-20.

That would prove to be the final touchdown of the game as Mariota sat out the last half of the final quarter, finishing what will likely be his last game for the Ducks with 338 passing yards on 26-of-36 passing and two touchdowns, while also rushing for 62 yards and another score. His Florida State counterpart Winston finished with 348 passing yards with one touchdown and an interception. Most noticeably however was several expletive-laden “discussions” he had with head coach Jimbo Fisher on the sidelines as the game slipped away under the weight of Seminole turnovers.

Florida State played with fire all season, and today they got burned  torched. Mistakes by the Seminoles and a flawless, high octane Oregon offense doomed the defending champs in the Rose Bowl. The superior team won Thursday, and Florida State will now get to work retooling for next season, likely with out Jameis Winston behind center for the first time since 2012. His final game for the Seminoles will go down as his only defeat, but his lack of decorum on the sidelines as the game slipped away will arguably be his most memorable moment of his time in Tallahassee. Pasadena was the site of Winston and Florida State’s coronation a season ago, today it was the site of their demise.

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