Auburn's Destiny Not Meant To Be

Florida State rallied from a 21-3 deficit and scored twice in the final five minutes to claim the National Championship.

Pasadena, Calif. – Kelvin Benjamin's two-yard touchdown reception from Jameis Winston with 13 seconds remaining gave Florida State a 34-31 victory over Auburn in the final year of the Bowl Championship Series.

Auburn was dubbed "The Team of Destiny" with its remarkable turnaround from a three-win squad to SEC Champions, but on Monday night in Pasadena the Seminoles laid claim to a team of perfection finishing 14-0 under head coach Jimbo Fisher.

Auburn held a 21-3 second quarter advantage, but the Seminoles rallied throughout the second half and scored two touchdowns with less than five minutes remaining.

A Cody Parkey field goal with 4:22 left in the game gave Auburn a 24-20 lead, but Levonte Whitfield took the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to give Florida State its first lead since 3-0 at 27-24.

Much like the Tigers have done all years, they rallied and scored a late touchdown to take the lead from the Seminoles on a Tre Mason 37-yard run with 1:22 left.

However, the Heisman Trophy winner Winston led Florida State down the field for the go-ahead score. The big play on the drive was a 49-yard pass to Rashad Greene down the right sideline to the Auburn 23.

The Seminoles drove to the Auburn two-yard line with a first down. On a play-action Winston found Benjamin in the middle of the end zone and the 6-5 receiver corralled the ball for the game winner.

Florida State won its third national title joining the 1993 and 1999 squads.


Jonathon Mincy deflects a third down pass in the first quarter.

The Seminoles got on the scoreboard first on their opening drive. On a third and 16 play Winston took advantage of Chris Davis slipping to the turf finding an open Greene. On the following set of downs Nosa Eguae got a third down sack for Auburn which set up a 35-yard field goal by Robert Aguayo.

Steven Clark proved to be a weapon on Monday helping to set up Auburn's first score as the Tigers did most of their scoring early in the game. The senior pinned FSU at its own two and late in the first quarter. The Auburn defense forced a three-and-out, and Davis returned a punt 22 yards to put Auburn in business at the Noles' 30-yard line.

Nick Marshall converted two third downs through the air, first to C.J. Uzomah on third and four. Facing a third at nine at the 12 Auburn called for a screen to Mason in the left flats, and he scored an easy touchdown to give the Tigers a 7-3 lead.


Mason jogs into the end zone on a 12-yard screen pass.

Auburn again scored easily on its next drive going 85 yards. Mason went up the middle for 23 yards on the first play. Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner helped the Tigers' cause with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on a stopped speed sweep of Corey Grant.

On the next play the Tigers faked the speed sweep and Marshall found Melvin Ray down the seam in a busted coverage. Ray took the pass 50-yards and scored his first career touchdown to give Auburn a 14-3 lead.

While Winston stuggled mightily during the second quarter Auburn continued to build on its lead. Parkey missed on a 33-yard field goal after the Tigers drove 46 yards in 11 plays. However, Angelo Blackson was able to knock the ball out of Winston's hands on a scramble two plays later.

Starting at the Seminoles' 27 it took Auburn six plays to build the lead to 18 points. Marshall and Quan Bray connected on a third and five play. Then from the four-yard line on third and two Marshall kept around left end and sprinted to the corner to make the score 21-3 Tigers.

Late in the second quarter Florida State had nothing to lose, and Fisher rolled the dice on a play that perhaps changed the game. At his own 40 Fisher called for a fake punt and Karlos Williams picked it up on an end around.


Melvin Ray dashed 50 yards on a play-action catch from Nick Marshall to give the Tigers a 14-3 edge.

Winston's feet were crucial on the drive, and Devonta Freeman carried it in from three yards out as the Noles pulled to within 21-10 late in the half and the option to receive the second half kickoff.

Fisher's fake punt call that eventually turned into seven points was the start of a big rally by his squad. Florida State held Auburn to just 45 yards in the third quarter and the Seminole offense started to find a bit of rhythm.

Winston completed four of five passes on the second drive of the half for FSU as his team drove from its own nine to the Auburn 24. Aguayo connected on a 41-yard field goal to make the score 21-13 Tigers.

With the Auburn offense still struggling to find consistency Florida State kept chipping away. The Tigers punted on their first three possessions of the second half. Then cornerback P.J. Williams leaped high in the air to intercept Marshall down the sideline.

It only took the FSU offensive five plays to find the end zone after the pick. With Auburn ahead 21-13, Winston found fullback Chad Abram in the right flats for an 11-yard touchdown with 10:55 remaining in the fourth. Freeman was called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty after the play and Florida State was forced to kick the point after, bringing the score to 21-20 Tigers.

After a long drive by the Tigers the Noles defense was able to force a stop and a 22-yard field goal by Parkey with 4:22 to go, but the game was far from over. Auburn was clinging to a four-point lead at that point when Florida State suddenly used its own magic.

Whitfield dashed down the left sideline, didn't need to make anybody miss and Florida State claimed the lead.

Florida State had the momentum and finally had the lead, but the Auburn offense did as it had done all year. The Tigers rallied and Mason scored three minutes and 12 seconds later, but the 1:19 remaining on the clock was more than enough time for Florida State.

Benjamin scored with 13 seconds left to give Florida State the lead and the National Championship.

Auburn tried for one last miracle play on a throwback to Mason on the final play, but it was for naught.

The Seminoles finished the season 14-0 and the National Champions.

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