BCS Title Tilt: Seminoles Do an 'Auburn' to Defeat Auburn
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There were no miracle last-second returns, there were no tipped balls for touchdowns. In fact, there were no miracles involved.
For Auburn, anyway.
Florida State would beg to differ.
Could it be that a chance pulled hamstring by a Tiger on the kickoff team was the difference in the game? It opened up a lane -- in addition to the adjacent sideline lane abandoned in a moment of lost discipline by an Auburn gunner -- gave Seminole speed demon Levonte Whitfield all the room he needed to scoot untouched for a 100-yard kickoff return that put the Noles ahead, 27-24, and put the game's outcome back in question.
You'll see Jonathan Jones -- Jersey No 3 -- down and struggling on the Nole 28 as Whitfield goes racing past him:
Yes, there was that last-possession drive that Jameis Winston capped by hitting 6-5 wideout and part-time air-traffic control tower Kevin Benjamin for the telling touchdown with 13 seconds remaining in the game to seal the 34-31 victory and claim the Waterford crystal.
But like Auburn's comeback drive that preceded it, that was simply excellent football.
Despite being down 21-3 , Florida State clawed back into the game with a re-discovered confidence after head coach Jimbo Fisher called for a fake punt that included a reverse to eke out a first down and extend a drive that put the Seminoles' first touchdown on the board just before the half.
Until then, the Noles had no answer for Auburn, which took advantage of a stiff defense causing two fumbles to power its way to a huge lead. Tiger dominance in the first half was such that it looked like they were about to put the game away after another stuff or two of Florida State's freshman Heisman winner and his offensive unit.
Jameis Winston definitely looked like a freshman at times last night, but at the end of the game, he finally took on the appearance of the reigning Heisman holder.
On the sidelines and under the bright lights, Nick Saban looked sharp and was impressive doing analysis of the game for ESPN. It also didn't hurt that one of his former assistants won the national championship by beating his in-state rival.
He must have had more than one moment to gaze at the proceedings on the field and know the Crimson Tide could have won that game. So, too, could Ohio State, Oregon, Oklahoma State, Stanford, Michigan State, and Baylor on the given night. The point is, next season and beyond, a team is going to have to go through two contenders to claim what will then be a much more valid title.
But for now and forever, Florida State has earned the last championship in BCS history.