College Football

College Football Final 2014 Rankings: B/R's Official Top 25

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIIJanuary 7, 2014

College Football Final 2014 Rankings: B/R's Official Top 25

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    Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY

    The SEC's BCS National Championship reign ended as the BCS era came to a close. The Florida State Seminoles closed out a perfect season with a pulse-pounding 34-31 win over the Auburn Tigers at the Rose Bowl. 

    There's no debate about who is No. 1: It's the 'Noles.

    But where did the Tigers land, and how far did the Alabama Crimson Tide fall after their Sugar Bowl defeat to Oklahoma?

    Click on to see Bleacher Report's final Top 25 rankings for the 2013-14 season.

    Poll voters: Chris Bello, Eric Bowman, Carter Bryant, Phil Callihan, Andrew Coppens, Bill Eichenberger, Michael Felder, Trenise Ferreira, Sean Frye, Kyle Kensing, Ben Kercheval, Sanjay KirpalaniAdam Kramer, David Luther, Max RauschDavid Regimbal, Barrett Sallee, Erin Sorensen, Marc Torrence, Greg Wallace.

    Voting procedure: Each voter submitted his or her Top 25 poll and votes were totaled as such: 25 points for No. 1 vote, 24 points for No. 2 and so on.

    Previous rankings from Bleacher Report's Week 16 Top 25.

    For the season's final AP Poll, click here.

Also Receiving Votes

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    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Texas Tech: 20

    Vanderbilt: 20

    Fresno State: 19

    Georgia: 16

    North Dakota State: 12

    Kansas State: 9

    Iowa: 4

    Northern Illinois: 4

    Marshall: 3

    Ole Miss: 2

    Utah State: 2

    North Carolina: 2

    Bowling Green: 2

25. Washington Huskies

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: Unranked (30)

    Bowl Result: Beat BYU, 31-16

    Overall Record: 9-4

    Poll Points: 30

     

    Led by backfield stars Bishop Sankey and Keith Price, Washington continued its improvement over the last few seasons.

    The Huskies have climbed out of the gutter and back into the top tier of the Pac-12 after a 9-4 campaign.

    UW was competitive against the conference's best. Its four losses were to teams that will end the season ranked. That earned the Huskies a Fight Hunger Bowl berth, where they handled BYU, 31-16.

    After a solid season, they now have a problem. Price, Sankey and head coach Steve Sarkisian are all leaving Seattle.

    With new head coach Chris Petersen now in charge, Washington's 2014 prospects are up in the air.

24. Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: Unranked

    Bowl Result: Beat Georgia, 24-19

    Overall Record: 9-4

    Poll Points: 32

     

    There would be no Big Ten title for Nebraska, but a Gator Bowl win over Georgia sweetened the deal for the Cornhuskers.

    Nebraska had its opportunities but couldn't top Michigan State down the stretch—or Iowa at home to close the regular season.

    However, the Huskers plugged away on New Year's Day anyway and tipped UGA 24-19.

    That win should provide some much-needed momentum heading into 2014.

    With the No. 1 rusher in the Big Ten, Ameer Abdullah, and quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. returning, the Huskers will be in the mix once again.

23. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: Unranked (26)

    Bowl Result: Beat Rutgers, 29-16

    Overall Record: 9-4

    Poll Points: 43

     

    A 9-4 season against Notre Dame's tough schedule would be a dream for many teams.

    However, for a Fighting Irish squad that came off a 12-1 season and a national title berth in 2012, it was just average.

    The pedestrian 2013 campaign included losses to Michigan, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh and Stanford—but it also featured victories over Michigan State (MSU's only loss), USC and Arizona State.

    One final win, a 29-16 Pinstripe Bowl triumph over Rutgers, sent out Notre Dame's seniors, including quarterback Tommy Rees, on a positive.

    Next year, however, could be even more promising, as the Irish will welcome back last year's starting quarterback, Everett Golson.

22. Duke Blue Devils

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    Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: 22

    Bowl Result: Lost to Texas A&M, 52-48

    Overall Record: 10-4

    Poll Points: 76

     

    For the first time in school history, Duke won 10 games. That record also gave the Blue Devils their second straight bowl bid for the first time in history.

    In the momentous season, the Blue Devils also claimed their first ACC Coastal Division crown.

    Several other teams saw their seasons end with losses to close the year. Duke also fell in its final two games: a 45-7 drubbing by Florida State and a 52-48 Chick-fil-A heartbreaker to Texas A&M.

    However, Duke's season was already defined as arguably the best in the program's history.

    The only question now: Can David Cutcliffe's squad show some legitimate staying power?

21. Wisconsin Badgers

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    David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: 19

    Bowl Result: Lost to South Carolina, 34-24

    Overall Record: 9-4

    Poll Points: 97

     

    A wacky loss to Arizona State early, followed by a defeat to Ohio State, left Wisconsin out of the rankings and seemingly out of the BCS picture.

    However, the Badgers rebounded and strung together six straight wins and appeared to be within grasp of an at-large berth. But with that possibility still on the table, they sealed their own fate, falling to Penn State 31-24 at home to end the regular season.

    After the loss, the Badgers still earned a bid to the Capital One Bowl. A lot went according to plan for them in that game, including 293 rushing yards. However, their defense didn't have an answer for South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw in the 34-24 loss.

    Quarterback Joel Stave will return, as will star running back Melvin Gordon. Expect Wisconsin to again boast an elite rushing attack and be in contention in the new-look Big Ten Conference.

20. USC Trojans

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: Unranked (27)

    Bowl Result: Beat Fresno State, 45-20

    Overall Record: 10-4

    Poll Points: 107

     

    No team went through a more tumultuous season than USC.

    The Trojans, after an abhorrent start, fired coach Lane Kiffin and replaced him with Ed Orgeron on an interim basis. With Orgeron at the helm, USC posted a remarkable turnaround, going 6-2 in his eight games. 

    However, rather than keep the popular Orgeron as the full-time boss, USC replaced him with Washington's Steve Sarkisian. The decision, which came before the bowl season, sent an upset Orgeron out of town early.

    The Trojans were then saddled with a tough Las Vegas Bowl opponent, Fresno State, but came through and dominated the Bulldogs, 45-20.

    After a roller coaster campaign, USC will still be in a transitional phase under Sarkisian in 2014. Still, the Trojans will be right among the Pac-12 elite.

19. Arizona State Sun Devils

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: 17

    Bowl Result: Lost to Texas Tech, 37-23

    Overall Record: 10-4

    Poll Points: 118

     

    Arizona State made a remarkable run at the Pac-12 title. The Sun Devils won their last seven games of the regular season to take the South Division crown.

    But with their chief goal in their grasp, they stumbled against Stanford, 38-14, in the Pac-12 title game at home. After falling short of the league championship and a BCS berth, ASU came with an uninspired performance in the Holiday Bowl against Texas Tech.

    The Sun Devils yielded 484 total yards in a 37-23 defeat. 

    Still, a 10-4 campaign and the return of quarterback Taylor Kelly and running back D.J. Foster will leave ASU feeling good about its chances in 2014.

18. Texas A&M Aggies

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    Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: 20

    Bowl Result: Beat Duke, 52-48

    Overall Record: 9-4

    Poll Points: 144

     

    In one of the most thrilling games of the bowl season. Texas A&M overcame a three-touchdown halftime deficit that looked as though it would be insurmountable at the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

    Johnny Manziel led the way, per usual, with 455 total yards and five touchdowns, but it was the defense that righted its wrongs and sealed the victory with two late interceptions.

    After clipping Duke, 52-48, a respectable season ended for A&M, as it continues to search for the depth and defensive talent it needs to compete for titles in the SEC.

    With Manziel still undecided on his NFL draft status, the Aggies' 2014 outlook is in flux. If he leaves as expected, a new era will begin in College Station. If he returns, another Heisman Trophy campaign will be launched.

17. Oklahoma State Cowboys

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    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: 12

    Bowl Result: Lost to Missouri, 41-31

    Overall Record: 10-3

    Poll Points: 204

     

    Oklahoma State had multiple chances at the Big 12 title. It began the season as the favorite but notched an ugly loss early to West Virginia.

    The Cowboys refocused and showed improvement over the ensuing weeks and then annihilated Baylor in November to renew their conference title hopes. However, their defining moment came against rival Oklahoma—and it wasn't a positive one. A late collapse delivered a 33-24 loss and cost OSU the conference crown and BCS bowl berth.

    The Pokes still headed to a prestigious postseason destination, the Cotton Bowl. They had their opportunities to win but again faltered late in a 41-31 loss.

    The Big 12 will be up for grabs yet again in 2014, and OSU will be one of the favorites. Can they finish the job next time around?

16. Louisville Cardinals

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    David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: 18

    Bowl Result: Beat Miami (Fla.), 36-9

    Overall Record: 12-1

    Poll Points: 218

     

    One game, three points. That is all that kept Louisville from an AAC title, a BCS berth, a perfect season and perhaps a shot at a national title.

    The Cardinals finished No. 1 in total defense, even ahead of Michigan State, Florida State and Alabama. However, they didn't quite do enough in a 38-35 loss to UCF.

    That loss was all it took. The Cards rebounded and finished 12-1, capping the run with a 36-9 dismantling of Miami (Fla.) in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

    While it was still a solid season for Louisville, it could be a rough ACC debut next year. The Cards will be without head coach Charlie Strong and star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

15. UCLA Bruins

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: 16

    Bowl Result: Beat Virginia Tech, 42-12

    Overall Record: 10-3

    Poll Points: 219

     

    The best part of UCLA's 2013 campaign: the news that star quarterback Brett Hundley is returning for 2014.

    In Hundley's redshirt sophomore season, the Bruins didn't see all of their goals realized, as a tough schedule (including consecutive road tilts with Stanford and Oregon) and injuries at the running back position limited their success.

    Still, UCLA notched 10 wins, including an enormous rivalry victory over USC and a bowl blowout of Virginia Tech to end the season. All three of UCLA's losses came to ranked teams.

    With Hundley returning, count the Bruins in the Pac-12 race next year.

14. LSU Tigers

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: 13

    Bowl Result: Beat Iowa, 21-14

    Overall Record: 10-3

    Poll Points: 232

     

    LSU faced one of the toughest schedules in the nation this season and dropped three games to three quality teams: Georgia, Ole Miss and Alabama.

    The Tigers gutted out two key victories over Texas A&M and Arkansas to close the season and earn an Outback Bowl bid. They played a familiar foe in Iowa, a team they took on in a thrilling 2005 Capital One Bowl.

    The Hawkeyes won that game on a late Hail Mary, but they couldn't repeat that result this time around. Behind an outstanding defensive effort, LSU notched its 10th win, edging Iowa 21-14.

    Always one of the most talented teams in the nation, LSU will be back and ready to fight for the SEC title and a College Football Playoff bid in 2014.

13. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: T-7

    Bowl Result: Lost to Clemson, 40-35

    Overall Record: 12-2

    Poll Points: 260

     

    Ohio State was one game away from playing for the national title but came up short. Then it was less than seven minutes away from winning the Orange Bowl but fell short one more time.

    Shortcomings defined a 12-2 season that would be a dream for some programs but stands as a disappointment for the Buckeyes.

    They started 12-0 but dropped their final two contests, falling short of their ultimate goals. OSU tripped up late against Clemson after a Braxton Miller interception sealed the shootout's outcome. 

    Miller will reportedly be coming back, which gives Ohio State plenty of hope for a 2014 turnaround. Still, the Buckeyes will lose several key defenders, making next year's outlook cloudy.

12. Baylor Bears

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: 5

    Bowl Result: Lost to UCF, 52-42

    Overall Record: 11-2

    Poll Points: 265

     

    It was the best season in Baylor history.

    The Bears reached their first BCS bowl, won their first Big 12 title and officially announced their presence as a conference contender with staying power. They beat Texas in the final week of the regular season to take that league crown. 

    That jubilation turned to disappointment when the Bears failed keep up with Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl, falling 52-42.

    Despite the disappointing bowl result, Baylor has to be thrilled with its overall season. 

    It'll bring back quarterback Bryce Petty, the first time it has returned a signal-caller in three seasons. The Bears will have to replace several talented defenders and some skill players, but with a proven system, they'll be on the short list of serious Big 12 title contenders next year.

11. UCF Knights

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    Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: 15

    Bowl Result: Beat Baylor, 52-42

    Overall Record: 12-1

    Poll Points: 315

     

    It was a truly charmed season for Central Florida.

    The Knights finished 12-1, with eight of their victories coming from a margin of 10 points or less. 

    The marvelous run included just one loss, a three-point defeat to SEC power South Carolina. A three-point win over Louisville highlighted that run, as the victory gave UCF the AAC crown and sent it to its first ever BCS bowl.

    UCF outscored the vaunted Baylor offense in a 52-42 Fiesta Bowl triumph.

    The Knights just might have to enjoy this run while they can, as they'll be without the engine to their 2013 machine, quarterback Blake Bortles. A potential top-five pick, the junior will be heading to the NFL draft early.

10. Stanford Cardinal

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: T-7

    Bowl Result: Lost to Michigan State, 24-20

    Overall Record: 11-3

    Poll Points: 328

     

    A Pac-12 Conference title always makes for an outstanding season, but Stanford still will feel like it could've done more with its 2013 slate.

    The Cardinal suffered a crippling loss early to Utah and also fell to a USC team that was unranked at the time, ending their national title aspirations.

    Still, they turned around and crushed Arizona State in the Pac-12 title game and earned their fourth consecutive BCS berth. It looked as though Stanford might notch its second straight Rose Bowl win, but after faltering late, it fell short against Michigan State, 24-20.

    Stanford's established system will have it atop the Pac-12 once again. However, more consistency, particularly on the offensive end, will be needed to be included in the national title conversation.

9. Oregon Ducks

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 10

    Bowl Result: Beat Texas, 30-7

    Overall Record: 11-2

    Poll Points: 353

     

    Oregon's season will be defined by two failed chances at the Pac-12 title and a late collapse that ended its national title hopes.

    However, the Ducks still won 10 games for the sixth season in a row and will enter 2014 with very high hopes.

    Star quarterback Marcus Mariota is set to return after looking strong (386 total yards) in a 30-7 Alamo Bowl drubbing of Texas. The Ducks will lose running back De'Anthony Thomas, but they'll still reload with plenty of talent in the backfield.

    Oregon will be highly ranked once again, but it'll still need to prove that it can win physical games to make it to the next level.

8. Clemson Tigers

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    Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: 11

    Bowl Result: Beat Ohio State, 40-35

    Overall Record: 11-2

    Poll Points: 357

     

    Overall, Clemson's 2013 season didn't quite go according to plan. After beating Georgia to open the year, the Tigers were thinking ACC and national titles.

    However, after they were bludgeoned 51-14 by Florida State in October, it was clear that wasn't in the cards. They also lost decisively to in-state rival South Carolina.

    But even with those two stinging defeats, the Tigers kept rolling forward. They notched an impressive Orange Bowl victory over another national title hopeful, Ohio State. Clemson was led by offensive stars Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins all year, but its defense that sealed the deal in Miami, intercepting OSU's Braxton Miller to sew up the win.

    Clemson could be in for a rebuilding year next season, which will be very telling for head coach Dabo Swinney's legacy.

7. Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

    Previous Rank: 3

    Bowl Result: Lost to Oklahoma, 45-31

    Overall Record: 11-2

    Poll Points: 371

     

    Alabama was supposed to win its third straight national title—and Nick Saban's team looked like it would pull that feat off until late in the evening of Nov. 30.

    The Crimson Tide collapsed in the Iron Bowl against Auburn, but some still perceived them as the best team in college football. 

    In the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma, they showed why, jumping out to a quick lead. However, over the course of that contest, the Sooners flat-out beat them.

    Senior quarterback AJ McCarron's finale wasn't a good one, as he threw two interceptions and coughed up a late fumble to cement Alabama's 45-31 defeat.

    The Tide will lose a lot, including McCarron and linebacker C.J. Mosley, the unquestioned leaders on both sides of the ball. However, if there's any letup for Saban's squad, it still won't be far off the national pace.

6. Oklahoma Sooners

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    Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: 14

    Bowl Result: Beat Alabama, 45-31

    Overall Record: 11-2

    Poll Points: 373

     

    Count Oklahoma as one of the most puzzling teams in college football.

    The Sooners suffered beatings from Baylor (41-12) and Texas (36-20), but they also won close against West Virginia and TCU.

    On the other hand, they took down rival Oklahoma State and decisively topped Alabama 45-31 in the Sugar Bowl. The final victory was the biggest surprise and showed that, even despite some injuries, OU finally started to figure things out at season's end.

    If Trevor Knight, who threw for nearly 350 yards and four touchdowns against the Crimson Tide, can play at a high level consistently, Oklahoma will be on the short list of Big 12 title favorites.

    If he can play as well as he did against 'Bama week in and week out, OU will compete for a national title.

5. South Carolina Gamecocks

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    Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: 9

    Bowl Result: Beat Wisconsin, 34-24

    Overall Record: 11-2

    Poll Points: 404

     

    South Carolina will look much different in 2014 than it does now.

    Gone will be quarterback Connor Shaw and star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney

    However, before the Gamecocks can look to move on, they can reflect on a strong finish. They posted big wins over Missouri, Clemson and Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl.

    The Gamecocks' only losses came early in the year to a full-strength Georgia team and a 23-21 heartbreaker to Tennessee midway through the season.

    South Carolina will be a bit of a mystery as it looks for new leaders next year, but it won't be too far off contention with Steve Spurrier at the helm.

4. Missouri Tigers

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    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: 6

    Bowl Result: Beat Oklahoma State, 41-31

    Overall Record: 12-2

    Poll Points: 410

     

    If it weren't for the BCS' limit of two teams per conference, Missouri would have gone BCS bowling.

    Instead, the Tigers settled for one of the best non-BCS contests, the Cotton Bowl, and showed why they are one of the nation's best.

    Behind a big day from running back Henry Josey (92 YDS, 3 TD) and three turnovers forced by its opportunistic defense, Mizzou toppled Oklahoma State, 41-31.

    Missouri can look back at its season and smile. The Tigers weren't expected to compete at all in the SEC East, but they finished at 12-2 with losses to two Top Five teams: South Carolina and Auburn.

    The Tigers will have experience at quarterback with Maty Mauk returning and will enter next season with much higher expectations than they carried into 2013.

3. Auburn Tigers

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: 2

    Bowl Result: Lost to Florida State, 34-31

    Overall Record: 12-2

    Poll Points: 457

     

    Auburn's charmed season came up one miracle short of a storybook ending.

    After finishing 3-9 in 2012, the Tigers still notched a season that was nothing short of remarkable.

    Auburn captured all that is great about college football, giving fans two of the most thrilling finishes in history in consecutive games.

    The Tigers nearly posted a third incredible late victory in the national title game against Florida State. However, they ran into a determined FSU club with a roster laden with NFL talent and instead fell victim to a late comeback, falling 34-31.

    After falling short of the national title, Auburn will go into 2014 as a legitimate SEC contender, rather than a darkhorse. How will Gus Malzahn's squad respond to the new dynamic in his second season?

2. Michigan State Spartans

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Previous Rank: 4

    Bowl Result: Beat Stanford, 24-20

    Overall Record: 13-1

    Poll Points: 475

     

    Michigan State spent most of the 2013 season under the radar, but a late surge proved it was one of the strongest teams in the country at season's end.

    The Spartans finished No. 2 nationally in total defense and won their final 10 games, including a Big Ten Championship victory over Ohio State. Their lone blemish was a 17-14 road loss to Notre Dame in September.

    MSU closed its season with a comeback win over Stanford. The Spartans trailed 10-0 early but leaned on their stingy defense and a career game from quarterback Connor Cook to eke out a 24-20 win.

    With Cook and head coach Mark Dantonio returning, the Spartans will be right back in the Big Ten title race.

1. Florida State Seminoles

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Previous Rank: 1

    Bowl Result: Beat Auburn, 34-31

    Overall Record: 14-0

    Poll Points: 500 (20)

    (First-place votes)

     

    It was truly a perfect season for Florida State.

    The Seminoles finished 14-0, the only unbeaten team in the nation. Quarterback Jameis Winston captured the Heisman Trophy, and FSU capped its incredible run with a BCS title.

    The championship game was a thrilling one, as Florida State had to overcome 21-3 second-quarter deficit and a four-point deficit in the final minute.

    However, the young but wise Winston calmly led the 'Noles down the field and found his top target, Kelvin Benjamin, in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. Auburn made Florida State earn it, but there is no question which team is No. 1 in the land.

    Looking forward, it might be repeat or bust for FSU in Winston's second season.

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