The Daily Nole

5-Year Nole Anniversary: FSU Rallies Past Auburn in Final BCS Title Game

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Alabama and Clemson will meet on Monday night for the national championship for the third time since college football went to a 4-team playoff. The final BCS National Championship however, came on this day five years ago and was a memorable one for Florida State as it rallied to defeat Auburn, 34-31.

The Seminoles were 13-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country when they arrived in Pasadena on Jan. 6, 2014 to take on No. 2 Auburn. At 12-1, the Tigers were champions of the SEC, pulling out thrilling victories over the likes of Georgia and Alabama. FSU had not played a contest closer than 14 points and had destroyed ranked Maryland, Clemson, Miami and Duke teams.

For most of the 2013 season, FSU cruised to victory, but after an early Roberto Aguayo field goal, Auburn responded with three straight touchdowns to take a commanding 21-3 lead in the BCS National Championship. All three scores were accounted for by Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall who passed for two scores and rushed for another.

Facing fourth down late in the first half, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher rolled the dice on a fake punt as running back Karlos Williams took the reverse for seven yards and a first down. Running back Devonta Freeman capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run with less than 90 seconds to play to pull the Seminoles within 11 at the break, 21-10.

A 41-yard field goal by Aguayo would account for all the third quarter scoring and cut the lead to 21-13. On his 20th birthday, Florida State quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston would throw his first touchdown pass of the night on a check down to fullback Chad Abram for an 11-yard score to cut the lead to one with less than 11 minutes to play.

Cody Parkey connected on a short field goal to push the Auburn lead back to four on the ensuing drive before the Seminoles regained the lead. On the ensuing kickoff, freshman wide receiver Levonte “Kermit” Whitfield found a crease and outraced defenders for a 100-yard touchdown to put FSU in front 27-24 with 4:31 remaining.

As they had all year however, the Tigers answered. Tre Mason capped an 8-play, 73-yard drive with an electrifying 37-yard touchdown run in which he broke multiple tackles. With 1:19 to play, Winston and the FSU offense had 80 yards to go to cap the undefeated season and give Florida State its first national title in 14 years.

On the second play of the drive, Winston hit wide receiver Rashad Greene on a short pass in which Greene was able to slip through defenders and race down the field for 46 yards inside the Auburn 25-yard-line. Six plays later, Greene was able to draw a pass interference call on 3rd-and-8 from the Auburn 10, giving FSU 1st-and-goal at the 2 with 17 seconds remaining.

On the very next play, Winston lofted one high for 6-foot-5 Kelvin Benjamin who corralled the pass for the 2-yard touchdown with 13 seconds to play as FSU went back in front, 34-31. Auburn had two plays from the scrimmage on the ensuing drive, but a throwback play came up short and the Seminoles had completed the perfect season and were once again national champions.

The Tigers had managed to rush for 232 yards against a stout FSU defense with Mason accounting for 195 of those. Winston passed for 237 yards and a pair of scores for FSU in the victory. Greene led all receivers with 147 yards on nine catches.

The only turnover forced by FSU tuned out to be a big one. P.J. Williams’ interception of Marshall in Auburn territory set up Florida State’s first touchdown of the fourth quarter. Telvin Smith, a senior linebacker, recorded 15 tackles to lead the FSU defense.

Jimbo Fisher and Florida State celebrate winning the 2014 BCS National Championship.
(Ross Obley/FSU athletics)

The 18-point comeback would serve as the largest in BCS title game history as Winston and Benjamin cemented their place in FSU lore. It serves as one of the more thrilling victories in FSU history and it came on this day five years ago.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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