It wasn't easy, but the Florida State Seminoles are the final BCS national champions. Behind a strong second-half effort, the 'Noles came back from an 18-point deficit to win a thriller, 34-31.
Bleacher Report was one of the first to bless the champs with an artful social media acknowledgement.
Florida State wins the 2014 BCS National Championship! pic.twitter.com/GuTPghI6hY— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 7, 2014
Florida State outscored the Auburn Tigers 24-10 in the second half and used a bevy of big plays to turn Gus Malzahn's group away. Winston validated his Heisman Trophy after a rough first half.
Here's his emotional postgame interview.
He completed 20 of his 35 passes for 237 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Rashad Greene had nine receptions and 147 yards receiving.
Winston's counterpart Nick Marshall played a decent game—sans a few mistakes. He had 275 all-purpose yards and three total touchdowns. The game's other Heisman finalist, Tre Mason, ran for 195 yards and had two touchdowns.
Check out how Mason's day ranks when compared to entire teams that faced Florida State in 2013.
Tre Mason (195 yds) has almost as many rushing yds as any team vs FSU this year (Boston College, 200) #BCS— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 7, 2014
Here are the highlights from this epic game.
The Tigers missed an opportunity early in the first quarter. With the Seminoles hell bent on stopping the run game, Nick Marshall had a chance to put his team up 7-0. Instead he threw the ball short to Ricardo Louis. It turned out to be a 10-point swing as Florida State took the next possession down the field and converted a field goal.
Tre Mason and Auburn let it be known they were in Pasadena to win. The Heisman Trophy finalist caught this swing pass to give the Tigers a 7-3 lead.
As ESPN Stats notes, the Tigers put the Seminoles in rare air by jumping ahead early.
Marshall gets a second chance to make a big play down the middle of the field. He hit Melvin Ray with this 50-yard touchdown strike. The score gave the Tigers a commanding 14-3 lead after the extra point.
Slowly, but surely, Marshall was making the Seminoles' defense respect him. Warchant.com points out how Marshall was outplaying Winston to this point.
Cody Parkey had a very makeable 33-yard field goal attempt that could have put the Tigers up 17-3, but he didn't hook it enough, and it also appeared to be short. These are the types of plays that teams look back on when they lose close games.
Things really looked bleak for the 'Noles late in the first half. Auburn was getting tons of pressure on Winston. On this play, the Heisman Trophy winner was forced to cough the ball up.
The blitz was clearly giving Winston problems. ESPN Stats breaks it down for us.
Entering tonight, Jameis Winston had a 70 comp pct vs the blitz, best among all qualified QBs (29% tonight) #BCS— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 7, 2014
The Tigers recovered the fumble and it turned into this...
Marshall showed his elite speed to take it in from four yards out. Auburn had a huge 21-3 lead at this point.
On Florida State's final drive, it looked as if the Tigers had forced another Florida State punt. The Seminoles faked it and ran an end around that went for seven yards and a first down.
The fourth-down conversion led to this clumsy, but effective scramble from Winston. Florida State turned this into a big touchdown before the half. They went into the intermission down 21-10.
Clemson Tigers standout wide receiver Sammy Watkins is rolling with the ACC in this one. He cautions everyone to calm down.
Everyone calm down just a lil adversity good teams play through that throughout the game #ACC— Sammy Watkins (@SammyWatkins7) January 7, 2014
Florida State added a field goal in the third quarter to make the score 21-13.
In the final period, Marshall made one of his few really poor decisions in the game.
He threw this pass into double coverage and it was picked off by P.J. Williams. Williams fumbled the ball, but his teammate Lamarcus Joyner recovered it for Florida State.
The pick led to this 11-yard touchdown pass to Chad Abram. Florida State closed to 21-19 with the score.
After the touchdown pass, Devontae Freeman was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taunting the Tigers' sideline. It was a dumb move by Freeman, but a soft call considering the situation.
Nonetheless, the penalty made going for a two-point conversion and the tie more difficult. The 'Noles settled for the extra point and put the score at 21-20.
With star defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan gassed on the sideline, the 'Noles came up with a crucial third-down stand inside their own 10-yard line. It forced the Tigers to settle for the field goal to make the game 24-20 in favor of the Tigers.
The score set up this...
Levonte Whitfield took the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for the go-ahead score. All of a sudden, the Seminoles were up 27-24. Explosive.
With 4:31 left, things didn't look promising for the Tigers. After Marshall made a few solid throws, Tre La Soul had what looked a lot like a Heisman moment. He broke off this 37-yard touchdown run to make it 31-27.
Bleacher Report captures Mason striking a pose.
Tre Mason strikes the Heisman pose after giving Auburn a 31-27 lead! pic.twitter.com/fR9d9EGv68— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 7, 2014
Brandon Marcello of the Mobile Press-Register tells us that Mason's scamper broke the great Bo Jackson's single-season rushing record.
Auburn 31, Florida State 27 (1:19/4Q) | Tre Mason broke Bo Jackson's single-season record on that 37-yard TD run.— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) January 7, 2014
Would it be a late-season Auburn game without a wild finish?
With just 1:19 remaining in the game, Winston was placed in a position to prove he deserved to be the Heisman winner. A 49-yard completion to Rashad Greene had Florida State in business.
This pass interference against Chris Davis put the ball on the 2-yard line.
Winston went to his go-to man Kelvin Benjamin in the red zone. The 6'5" stud that could double as a shooting guard gave the 'Noles a 33-31 lead. The extra point made it 34-31 and handed Florida State the national championship.
What a game.
All stats per ESPN.com
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