Before the kickoff at the Rose Bowl on New Years Day, all the Florida State Seminoles knew how to do was win, win, win and never stop. For 29 consecutive games, this was the theme during postgame in the FSU locker room.
But history in sports has shown that long winning streaks do indeed end and in many cases, they don’t end pretty. As was the case on Thursday in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl where the Oregon Ducks destroyed the Seminoles 59-20 in the first game of the College Football Playoff.
Marcus Mariota and the Oregon offense had three different speeds during the game — fast, faster and fastest.
At its fastest point, the Ducks scored five touchdowns (four offensive and one defensive) between the 6:43 mark in the third quarter and 10:13 mark in the fourth expanding their lead from 25-20 to the eventual final score. For those keeping score at home, that’s 34 points in 11:30 of actual playing time.
Even more remarkable, given the way the Seminoles dominated the second half of most of their games this season, the Ducks outscored Florida State 41-7.
“It’s incredible. I’m so proud of these guys right here,” Mariota said. “We’ve got one more to take care of.”
Photo source: Instagram
Coming into the game, there was talk about the Ducks (13-1) being labeled as ‘soft’. Perhaps it’s because of their bright colored jerseys. Perhaps it’s because they’re from the state of Oregon. But after forcing five Florida State turnovers in the second half, that talk can be quickly put to rest.
Or how about the Ducks running game which saw Thomas Tyner carry the ball 13 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns (9.5 yards per carry). Does that sound soft?
“A lot of fun,” said Oregon coach Mark Helfrich about the second half flurry, “but at the same time, these guys were able to retain a tremendous focus.”
It was billed as a game of Heisman Trophy winners with Mariota behind center for Oregon and Jameis Winston for the Seminoles. But in the end, Winston and the Seminoles simply couldn’t keep up with the high-flying Ducks.
And now the Ducks are off to Texas to face surprising Ohio State in the national championship game on Jan. 12 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Despite the long tradition of the Rose Bowl, it was first time any team had scored over 50 points in the annual classic.
“The longer you go, the stronger you get,” said Ducks safety Erick Dargan who had an outstanding game on defense by forcing a fumble and intercepting a pass. “We went longer and we stayed stronger. Everyone kept demanding more out of each other.”
Mariota lived up to the hype of being the current Heisman winner passing 26-for-36 for 338 yards with touchdowns and one interception. He also tucked the ball and ran eight times for 62 yards including a 23-yard touchdown run.
For the most part, Winston matched Mariota passing 29-for-45 for 348 yards with one touchdown and one interception. But he will most likely be remembered for a 4th and 5 play at the Oregon 30 in the third quarter.
On the play, Winston took the snap, looked downfield and couldn’t find anyone open. He then tucked the ball to get out of the pocket, scrambled to his right, cocked to throw the ball again and then lost his balance. As he was falling backwards, the ball slipped out of his hands and bounced right into the mitts of linebacker Tony Washington who ran the ball 58 yards for an Oregon touchdown.
Game… set… match.
Just how bad did Winston look on that play?
“It kind of looked like he slipped on a banana, like in cartoons,” said Oregon linebacker Torrodney Prevot.
After the game, Winston did have a sense of humor about the play indicating that it would be perfect for the segment C’mon Man on ESPN.
But despite that play, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, who could be seen arguing with his quarterback after the play, had Winston’s back as he did all season long.
“I think what he did as a competitor and what he does with his teammates, he’s one of the great players in not only college football, but college football history to me,” Fisher said. “It was a tough day out there.”
The Oregon Ducks get to move on. The Florida State Seminoles get to start over again next season.