5 Reasons Why Florida State Overcame Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game
How FSU Beat Auburn
After Auburn took a 21-10 lead into halftime, the Seminoles then outscored the Tigers 24-10 in the second half, including 21 fourth quarter points, to win the game 34-31. Jameis Winston found Kelvin Benjamin in the end zone with 13-seconds left for what would end up being the game-winning touchdown. It capped off a seven-play, 80-yard drive that took just 1:06 to complete.
After the way that Auburn dominated the first half, FSU’s comeback was simply sensational. Jameis Winston and Jimbo Fisher’s offense looked unorganized and unprepared in the first half but miraculously came back strong to steal the win the second half. The Tigers’ offense had their the way with FSU’s defense in the first, but for some reason they could barely muster up anything in the second. In it’s truest form it was a tale of two halves.
It’s ironic, really, as Auburn players and coaches talked about how they were going to give the Seminoles a full four quarters of football, something they hadn’t gotten all season long. Despite their best efforts, the Seminoles prevailed and proved once and for all that they are the best team in college football.
What was it that contributed to FSU’s stunning 18-point come-from-behind win? Was it something that happened at halftime? Was it all FSU or did something happen on Auburn’s sideline? On the following five slides, you’ll find five reasons why the Seminoles were able to shock the college football world and end the SEC’s streak of National Championship victories at seven.
5. Kelvin Benjamin and Rashad Greene
They didn’t arrive until the second half, but Rashad Greene and Kelvin Benjamin played key roles in the FSU’s comeback. In the second half, the duo combined for 138 yards on eight receptions and one infamous touchdown catch by Benjamin. They got physical with the Auburn secondary and asserted their dominance for the Seminoles.
4. FSU’s Defensive Turnaround
The Seminoles’ defense was torn apart in the first half by Guz Malzahn’s fast-paced offense. It looked as though they had never seen the read-option before, and the middle of the field was wide open. The Tigers scored at will, and they seemed like the ones that should have been the 14-point favorites.
In the second half, primarily the fourth quarter, FSU’s defense stood tall and were able to contain Auburn’s attack. While they did give up yards, they employed a bend but don’t break defense and it worked. In the beginning of the fourth quarter, they got a big break when PJ Williams picked off Nick Marshall. That interception setup a touchdown which pushed the score to 21-20.
3. Special Teams
The special teams units for Auburn were off the entire night. Auburn’s Cody Parker missed a 33-yard field goal in the second quarter, and the Tigers’ return men fumbled, but recovered, either a punt or kickoff three times.
For the Seminoles, their special teams units performed much better. Kicker Roberto Aguayo went 2-for-2 on field goals and 4-for-4 on extra points. You can’t forget about the fake-punt in the second quarter that led to a touchdown, and we’ll always remember Levonte Whitfield’s 100-yard kick return for a touchdown.
2. Jimbo Fisher
Give the coach credit; he never gave up on his young quarterback. In the first half, Fisher put a lot of pressure on Winston to get the job done. When he realized that his quarterback wasn’t going to have his best game ever, he dialed it back and put together a good mix of run and pass.
Maintaining the balanced offense paid off in spades down the stretch. The play-action pass was set up, and it allowed for Winston to toss the game-winning score to Benjamin. Fisher also called pass plays that required shorter air travel. In the first three quarters, Winston’s passes averaged 10.8 yards in the air per attempt. In the fourth quarter, easily the most productive for FSU, Winston’s passes traveled an average of just 3.8 yards through the air.
Also, the fake punt attempt in the second quarter was genius. It gave his team a spark and propelled them to their first touchdown on the same drive.
1. Jameis Winston
Over the course of one game, the Heisman trophy winner matured and lived up to the hype surrounding the award. Up until Monday night, we hadn’t seen what truly made up the redshirt-freshman quarterback. He hadn’t been tested yet, but we learned that in the face of adversity he can still deliver.
Despite struggling for virtually the entire game, Winston stayed calm and played within himself. He didn’t try to do too much and ran what was called. On the game-winning drive, Winston went 6-for-7 passing with 75 yards and, of course, one touchdown.
Following the game, he was named the MVP of the BCS National Championship and was certainly deserving of the honor.