PASADENA, Calif. — The Bowl Championship Series is dead.
And the Southeastern Conference’s stranglehold on college football’s national championship has been snuffed.
Top-ranked Florida State of the Atlantic Coast Conference completed a perfect season, rallying past No. 2 Auburn of the SEC 34-31 on Monday night at the Rose Bowl.
Heisman Trophy-winnng quarterback Jameis Winston hit Kelvin Benjamin with a 2-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds left to deliver the Seminoles.
BOX SCORE: Florida State 34, Auburn 31
Winston (20 of 23 passing, 237 yards, three TDs) was 6-for-7 for 77 yards on the final drive. Rashad Greene had nine catches for 147 yards.
“FSU, FSU,” chanted Seminoles fans in the waning moments, replacing the familiar “SEC, SEC,” refrain of the past seven seasons. The SEC had won seven straight BCS titles.
The final minutes were frenetic to say the least.
Running back Tre Mason’s 37-yard touchdown run with 1:19 remaining gave the Tigers a 31-27 edge. Mason ran for 195 yards on 34 carries.
FSU’s Levonte Whitfield had returned a kickoff 100 yards for a go-ahead TD with 4:31 remaining.
Winston got off to a shaky start but sparked FSU from an 18-point second-quarter deficit. It marked the first time in the 14-game history of the BCS championship history that a team trailing at the half came back to win.
Winston engineered an 11-play, 66-yard drive to pull FSU within 21-10 at the half. The Seminoles sustained that drive with a fake punt, running back Karlos Williams converting with a 7-yard burst on fourth-and 4 from the FSU 40.
Florida State (14-0) dismantled its first 13 opponents, winning by an average of 42 points. That was not the case against Auburn (12-2) whose surprising run to the title game was fueled by a 73-yard, Hail Mary tipped pass touchdown to upset Georgia and the “Kick Six” a 109-yard return of a missed field goal to foil Alabama.
The Tigers fell just short over another last-gasp win.
The game marked the end of the BCS, which started in 1998. Next season the sport goes to a four-team playoff.
Quarterback Nick Marshall (14 for 27 passing, 230, two touchdowns) staked the Tigers to the early lead. He threw for 113 yards in the half, including a 50-yard touchdown to Melvin Ray. He ran for 26 yards and a score over the first 30 minutes.
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