SEC: bcs championship 2013

A big thanks for the BCS

January, 7, 2014
Jan 7
4:52
AM ET
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PASADENA, Calif. -- Nobody has made more fun of the BCS than me. I've mocked it. Insulted it. Said it was so screwed up that it sees a therapist twice a week.

So I only have one thing to say to the BCS after Monday evening's national title game:

Thank you.

Thank you for the perfect ending to 16 years of an imperfect BCS system.

Thank you for a game-changing fake punt, a 100-yard kickoff return, another late comeback by you-know-who, a career-defining, last-minute, game-winning drive by the Heisman Trophy owner.

Thank you for Florida State 34, Auburn 31.

This was the best national championship game since the 2005 season, when Texas beat USC on this same Rose Bowl field. This was the kind of game that you never erase from your DVR. The kind of game that grandparents tell their grandkids about.

Check that. It was the kind of game that a grandkid told his grandparents about. At least, that's what Florida State tight end Nick O'Leary did afterward as he embraced Jack and Barbara Nicklaus on the confetti-strewn field.

The greatest golfer of all-time wore an FSU cap and a proud smile as he posed for family photos with O'Leary. And if you looked hard enough, you'd swear he was near tears.

Auburn fans know the feeling. With just 79 seconds remaining in the game, the Tigers held a four-point lead against an FSU team favored by double digits. Hold on to that lead and Auburn wins its second national title in four years and extends the SEC streak to an eight-peat.

Instead, Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, who had played like Ja-miss for large chunks of the game, led the Seminoles from their own 20-yard line to Auburn's end zone. The game was closer than a pair of Biggest Losers crammed into a Smart car and FSU -- and especially Winston -- delivered when it mattered most.

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Auburn runs out of miracles

January, 7, 2014
Jan 7
3:34
AM ET
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PASADENA, Calif. -- There were no miracles this time, only heartache.

And for the longest time, it didn’t look like Auburn would need a miracle Monday night after building an 18-point lead on a VIZIO BCS National Championship stage that not even the most die-hard fan on the Plains would have dreamed the Tigers would be playing on back in August.

But Florida State came storming back with a little late-game magic of its own to win a 34-31 thriller at the Rose Bowl, leaving a lump in the Tigers’ collective throats and bringing to an end the SEC’s national championship streak.

“We’ve been in this position all season long,” Auburn senior cornerback Chris Davis said. “We believe that if the game’s close, we’re going to win. It didn’t go our way tonight, and it’s going to take a long time for this hurt to go away.”

[+] EnlargeDee Ford
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesDee Ford had two sacks for Auburn.
The truth is that Auburn was never supposed to be here, not after going winless in the SEC a year ago, firing Gene Chizik as its head coach and starting over with Gus Malzahn.

But Malzahn’s message to his team in his very first meeting was that the Tigers were going to engineer the biggest turnaround in college football history.

And, boy, were they close, which made Monday night’s loss all the more nauseating for them.

“I apologize to the Auburn family and the rest of the fans that we didn’t finish,” said Auburn running back Tre Mason, who rushed for 195 yards on 34 carries and surpassed Bo Jackson as Auburn’s single-season rushing leader.

“We didn’t finish what we started. That’s a great team [Florida State] and they deserved to win. They found a way to win at the end.”

Mason had given Auburn a 31-27 lead with 1:19 to play on a tackle-breaking, 37-yard touchdown run.

“We knew we were going to take it down and score there,” Mason said. “Even after they returned that kickoff, you could just feel it on our sideline.”

It’s the same script Auburn had followed all season, whether it was Davis’ kick-six touchdown against Alabama, Ricardo Louis’ Hail Mary touchdown catch against Georgia or Nick Marshall’s late touchdown pass to beat Mississippi State.

“Right now, I’m kind of at a loss for words,” Auburn center Reese Dismukes said. “No one gave us a chance at the beginning of the season. We won the SEC championship in the best league in the country. Obviously, it was a successful season, but you’d like to win one more game.”

If not for a handful of plays, Auburn could easily be taking the final BCS crystal trophy back to the Plains.

Jameis Winston’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds to play won it for the Seminoles. But a play earlier, Davis was flagged for pass interference in the end zone when Winston tried to hit Rashad Greene on a third-and-8 play.

“I didn’t think it was pass interference. The ref called it, so it is what it is,” Davis said.

As costly as that pass-interference penalty was for the Tigers, the real back-breaker was Greene’s 49-yard catch-and-run to set up Benjamin’s touchdown. Auburn was in a zone and had a chance to tackle Greene for a modest gain, but he split Davis and safety Ryan Smith and was off to the races.

“We just didn’t come up with a stop when we needed to, and we usually do that as a defense,” said Davis, who was also covering Benjamin on his game-winning touchdown.

Auburn’s defense deserved better. The Tigers pressured Winston repeatedly, sacked him four times and held the Seminoles to three offensive touchdowns.

But Kermit Whitfield’s 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to put Florida State ahead 27-24 late in the fourth quarter was a killer. Likewise, the Tigers had another breakdown on special teams late in the second quarter when they gave up a fake punt leading to Florida State’s only first-half touchdown.

“They just executed at the times they needed to,” said Auburn defensive end Dee Ford, who had two sacks. “We played great for 3½ quarters. It just came down to that one possession. We had some calls that didn’t go our way, and it just didn’t work out. It’s unfortunate, but we have nothing to hang our heads about.

“Those same guys who were out there on that field were the same guys that helped get us here. We went out and fought. We just came up short. We’re not going to hang our heads.”

Video: Auburn TE C.J. Uzomah

January, 7, 2014
Jan 7
2:45
AM ET


Chris Low talks with Auburn tight end C.J. Uzomah following the Tigers' loss to FSU in the VIZIO BCS National Championship.

Video: Auburn WR Sammie Coates

January, 7, 2014
Jan 7
2:05
AM ET

Chris Low talks with Auburn receiver Sammie Coates following the Tigers' loss to FSU in the VIZIO BCS National Championship.

Video: Auburn FB Jay Prosch

January, 7, 2014
Jan 7
1:58
AM ET


Chris Low talks with Auburn fullback Jay Prosch about what was said in the locker room following the Tigers' loss to FSU in the VIZIO BCS National Championship.

Title Game Live: In-game chat wrap

January, 7, 2014
Jan 7
1:00
AM ET
The BCS went out with a bang. After one of the most dramatic fourth quarters in title-game history, Florida State beat Auburn 34-31 and ended the SEC's streak of seven straight national championships.

We were discussing it with you during all of the drama in yet another entertaining BCS game chat. Relive it all here, along with our postgame analysis and videos/pics from the field in Pasadena.

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Love it or hate it, the BCS delivered a dramatic and fitting ending on Monday night, as No. 1 FSU rallied from from a late four-point deficit in the final two minutes to defeat No. 2 Auburn 34-31 in the final VIZIO BCS National Championship at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. The Seminoles won their third national championship and ended the SEC's reign of seven consecutive BCS national championships.

Play of the game: Trailing 31-27 with about one minute to go, Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston threw a 49-yard pass to Rashad Greene to move to Auburn's 23-yard line with 56 seconds to play. Six players later, after Auburn was penalized for pass interference in the end zone, Winston threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin to go ahead for good with 13 seconds to play. FSU's extra point gave it a 34-31 lead.

Turning point: After Auburn took a 24-20 lead with about 4:42 to go, FSU's Levonte Whitfield returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, giving the Seminoles a 27-24 lead with 4:31 left. Whitfield, a 5-foot-7 freshman known as "Kermit," returned a kickoff for a touchdown for the second time this season.

Early turning point: With Auburn holding a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter, Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall lofted a 50-yard touchdown pass to Melvin Ray to stake the Tigers to a 14-3 lead with 13:48 to go in the first half. Ray, a sophomore from Tallahassee, Fla., had four catches for 58 yards this season before hauling in the long touchdown catch against the hometown Seminoles. FSU, which hadn't trailed since falling behind Boston College on Sept. 28 and had led for more than 571 minutes of football before falling behind the Tigers, suddenly trailed by two scores. The Seminoles played catch-up the rest of the night but finally caught the Tigers in the end.

Player of the game: Winston, a redshirt freshman from Bessemer, Ala., got off to a slow start against Auburn's defense, getting sacked four times and fumbling once in the first half. But in the end, Winston broke the Heisman Trophy jinx, throwing the winning touchdown with 13 seconds to play. He completed 20 of 35 passes for 237 yards with two touchdowns.

What it means: The controversial BCS era ends with the SEC being denied its eighth consecutive national championship, which should sit well with college football fans outside of the SEC. In a game in which the SEC seemed most vulnerable during its championship streak, the Tigers jumped out to a 21-3 lead but couldn't hold on for a victory. The Tigers were denied their second BCS national championship since the 2010 season, when they defeated Oregon 22-19 in the BCS National Championship behind quarterback Cam Newton. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn missed becoming only the second coach -- Miami's Larry Coker was the first -- to lead his team to the national title in his first season since the BCS began in 1998.

Stat that matters: 2-for-12: Florida State won despite going 2-for-12 on third down.

What's next: Florida State will probably be a popular choice to be the No. 1 team in preseason polls heading into the 2014 season. FSU will have to replace several key pieces on defense, including linebackers Christian Jones and Telvin Smith and cornerback Lamarcus Joyner. But the Seminoles will bring back Winston, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, along with several of their most important players on offense. Auburn, which reached the BCS national championship in Malzahn's first season, will be among the SEC West favorites in 2014, along with Alabama and LSU. The Tigers will bring back Marshall, but they'll have to wait to see if junior tailback Tre Mason returns to school or enters next spring's NFL draft. Auburn's very young defense will be a lot wiser in coordinator Ellis Johnson's second season, too.

Video: Biggest keys for FSU, Auburn

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6
6:31
PM ET

Heather Dinich and Chris Low offer up the biggest keys to the game in the moments leading up to the VIZIO BCS National Championship.

BCS National Championship preview

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6
3:37
PM ET
To watch on your smartphone, click here.

Host Chantel Jennings checks in with ESPN.com national writer Mark Schlabach and reporter Heather Dinich, who is on site at the Rose Bowl for Monday’s VIZIO BCS National Championship.

10 reasons Auburn will beat FSU

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6
12:45
PM ET
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No. 2 Auburn will play No. 1 Florida State in the final VIZIO BCS National Championship at the Rose Bowl on Monday night. Here are 10 reasons the underdog Tigers will win:

10. Heisman curse
FSU quarterback Jameis Winston became the second straight freshman to win a Heisman Trophy. The previous Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks didn't fare well in their bowl games. In fact, the 16 previous Heisman-winning quarterbacks who played in a bowl game went only 7-9 in the postseason. Worse, the Heisman-winning quarterbacks who played for a national title in their next games went only 4-7.

9. Nick Marshall
Auburn's first-year quarterback, a former Georgia defensive back, is getting better in Gus Malzahn's spread offense every week. He doesn't throw the ball very often -- he had only seven pass attempts against Tennessee and eight against Arkansas -- but makes the throws that matter most. Marshall engineered four comebacks in the fourth quarter against Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama. During Auburn's nine-game win streak, he accounted for 19 touchdowns. His 82.2 total QBR is 12th-highest among FBS quarterbacks.

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10 reasons FSU will beat Auburn

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6
12:30
PM ET

No. 2 Auburn will play No. 1 Florida State in the final VIZIO BCS National Championship at the Rose Bowl on Monday night. Here are 10 reasons the Seminoles will win:

10. Strength vs. strength
Auburn has a powerful running game behind a veteran offensive line. Auburn will score points. But the Tigers' defense has been vulnerable (34.3 points per game versus six ranked opponents) against offenses less explosive than Florida State. After that, what is Auburn's best asset: Luck, destiny? In a sport that is analyzed and video-studied to death, give me the team whose foundation of success is built on talent and statistics.

9. Jameis Winston
It's not just the Heisman. Jameis Winston's combination of athletic talent, infectious enthusiasm and leadership has been an integral part of Florida State's success. He embraced pressure from his very first start, a 25-for-27 performance at Pittsburgh on national TV on Labor Day. Winston threw for 3,820 yards and 38 touchdowns. He had a better completion percentage on third down (.681) than first (.656), and a better percentage on third-and-10-plus (.762) than on either. Not to mention Monday is his 20th birthday. That's right: America's best college football player is no longer a teenager.

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PASADENA, Calif. -- The final game of the BCS era (or error, take your pick) isn't about the legacy of a rusted, obsolete national title mechanism.

Or about SEC fatigue.

Or about whose NFL draft stock is enhanced or kneecapped.

It isn't about the supposed next football genius of the moment, or the next leveraged contract, or the trickle-down effect of a win or loss on next month's national signing day.

Instead, this VIZIO BCS National Championship, perhaps more than any championship game in recent memory, is about the journey. Seriously, have two teams ever followed a stranger set of football GPS directions than Auburn and Florida State?

The No. 1-ranked Seminoles asked Siri for directions to 1001 Rose Bowl Drive and here's how she got them there.

To continue reading this story, click here.

Video: Auburn WR Sammie Coates

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6
11:30
AM ET

While Auburn is known for its rushing attack, Sammie Coates and the Auburn wide receivers are ready to execute when needed.

BCS National Championship picks

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6
10:30
AM ET
Well, well, well. They tried to say the youngster couldn't do it. They tried to tell him that back-to-back championships were only for those wrapped in crimson and white.

They were wrong.

After watching Missouri take it to old Big 12 rival Oklahoma State 41-31 in the AT&T Cotton Bowl on Friday, I captured my second straight picks title by taking an insurmountable two-game lead over Chris heading into tonight's VIZIO BCS National Championship Game between Auburn and Florida State.

My championship record currently stands at 102-21 (.829), while Chris is 100-23 (.813). Outside of tonight's game, I went 5-4 during bowl season, missing on Mississippi State, LSU, Georgia, and Alabama. Chris went a respectable 6-3 to make things interesting, but missed on Georgia, Alabama and Missouri.

I tried to tell the vet not to sleep on the Tigers, which he did quite a bit this season.

It has to be tough for Chris to watch the new guy, who is still referred to as "Hey, Rookie" by esteemed colleague Mark Schlabach, to come into his house and take what's his. I didn't dominate like I did in 2012, but I proved that even when the times got tough and adversity hit, I could still figure out a way to win.

I'd like to say I'm the Alabama of the picks, but hopefully my three-peat happens next year.

I'd like to thank Chris for battling back like he did and keeping it interesting. I was a little worried about where his head would be after the thrashing I gave him last season. I'd also like to thank my cat Meeko, who worked tirelessly with early-morning wake ups to keep me fresh and on my toes. I really wouldn't be here without that fur ball.

Finally, I'd like to thank all you readers for pushing me through the tough weeks and motivating me every step of the way. Never forget #thingsAschoffsays.

I can't wait to see what next season has in store for us.

Let's check out our final pick of the season:

VIZO BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Auburn vs. Florida State

Chris Low: Florida State’s talent on both offense and defense jumps off the game tape at you, but I also don’t think the Seminoles have been tested the way Auburn has this season. They’re used to cruising in the second half, and the Tigers are too good on offense to be out of the game by the midway point of the third quarter. Make no mistake. Auburn will have to play much more consistently on defense and can’t turn it over the way the Tigers did in the first half of the SEC championship game. But Auburn’s offensive line will be the best Florida State has seen this season, and there’s something to be said for the way the Tigers have found ways to win games. They’ll find a way to win one more, meaning the SEC’s national championship streak will live on. … Auburn 38, Florida State 34

Edward Aschoff: I'd be lying if I said I came to this pick weeks ago. I'd be lying even more if I said it was something I was still sure about, but a pick must be made. I kept going back and forth about Auburn's elite rushing offense against Florida State's elite defense. Jameis Winston has the advantage over Auburn's pass defense, but the Tigers' defensive line has made strides all season, especially in the final month of the season. So the ACC over the SEC? I mean, look at how much the ACC struggled during the bowl season. Were the Seminoles' opponents really that good this season? At the end of the day, who messes with mojo? Gus Malzahn has had a month to add to his offense and Nick Marshall will find a way to make a few plays through the air. Expect Winston to make a couple of mistakes late to help Auburn's run game grind out a win. ... Auburn 34, Florida State 31

Video: Auburn OL Greg Robinson

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6
10:30
AM ET

After one of the lowest points in decades for Auburn, Greg Robinson would rather have team wins than any personal credit.

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