The Florida State Seminoles proved that they could hang tough in close games on Monday night in the BCS National Championship. After trailing by 18 points, the ‘Noles staged a major comeback effort. Capped by a 2-yard touchdown pass from Jameis Winston to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds left, Florida State became 2014 BCS National Champions.
The touchdown capped off the thriller, handing Florida State the National Title courtesy of the 34-31 victory over the Auburn Tigers Monday night.
Florida State went into the locker room at half time trailing 21-10, but it could have been a whole lot worse for the Seminoles.
The Tigers could have added to their lead, but Cody Parkey missed a 33-yard field goal early in the second quarter. Before that, on the first drive of the game, Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall had a streaking Ricardo Luis wide open down the middle of the field, but under threw the receiver. At the very least, the play would have resulted in a huge gain, or at most a touchdown.
Marshall did, however, convert on first-half touchdown heaves to Tre Mason and Melvin Ray, which fueled the Auburn strong first half.
But, Auburn could afford to miss a few opportunities because the Seminoles couldn’t get anything going. Aside from Florida State’s five penalties in the first half alone, the Seminoles couldn’t move the ball consistently and Jameis Winston lost a fumble midway through the second quarter, which led to a 4-yard touchdown run by Marshall to give Auburn a 21-3 advantage.
Winston was 6-for-15 in the first half for just 62 yards. He did tack on 28 yards rushing the ball.
Florida State’s saving grace in the first half was a fake punt late in the second quarter on 4th-and-4. The gutsy call paid off big time for the Seminoles as it resulted in their only touchdown of the half, a 3-yard run by Devonta Freeman. Not only did it help chip away at the deficit, but the Seminoles got the ball to start the second half, laying the groundwork for a potential comeback effort.
With the Auburn offense falling silent, Florida State took advantage of the opportunity. The Seminoles added a field goal for the only points of the third quarter. To open the fourth and final quarter, P.J. Williams nabbed an interception with 13 minutes left in the game.
The Seminoles cashed in on this pivotal turnover. Winston found Chad Abram out on the flat for a screen pass. Abram took the ball 11 yards for the touchdown to make it a 21-20 game in favor of Auburn. Abram’s touchdown made it 17 unanswered points for Florida State, who never faced a significant deficit all season, yet responded when Auburn had them in a deep hole.
The touchdown strike and resulting one-point ball game put the pressure back on the shoulders of the Tigers.
Auburn finally broke the offensive silence in the fourth quarter when Parkey booted through a 22-yard field goal, which gave the Tigers a 24-20 lead with 4:42 left in the game. The Florida State Seminoles were left needing a touchdown to win it.
That’s exactly what Levonte Whitfield delivered for the Seminoles with a 100-yard kick return for a touchdown. What appeared to be the deciding play of the game actually wasn’t though, it was far from it.
The Tiger’s Tre Mason broke a 37-yard touchdown scamper with 1:19 left in the game, leaving the Seminoles needing their final, fateful drive to win it.
That has to rank up there as one of the best National Championship games in college football history. What a great way to put to rest the current methodology of choosing the BCS National Champion.
Florida State University indeed takes that honor forever.