Oregon blows out FSU in Rose Bowl – Orlando Sentinel
PASADENA, Calif. – Jameis Winston scrambled, then he slipped. As the football bizarrely squirted out of his hands, a sense of finality swept across FSU’s sideline.
The ball bounced backward, was scooped up by Oregon’s Tony Washington and returned 58 yards for a touchdown.
FSU’s 29-game win streak was defined by miraculous moments and memorable plays. But the fumble will likely be remembered as a quintessential sequence in which the season, the streak and possibly the Winston era ended as No. 3 FSU (13-1) fell to No. 2 Oregon (13-1) 59-20 Thursday at the Rose Bowl in front of an announced crowd of 91,322.
“It hurts badder than whatever you can imagine,” Winston said. “But the good thing is we live to fight another day. We’ve got tons of great futures.
“I just hope that we can learn from this because I ain’t felt this way in a long time, I’ve got to say. So that’s something to smile on.”
Winston’s blunder led to Oregon extending its lead to 45-20. It was far from the sole reason the Seminoles fell in the opening round of the College Football Playoff, but it closed the door on any comeback bid the defending national champions could make.
FSU made a living this season on winning narrow games or completing what seemed to be insurmountable comebacks. Sooner or later, the Seminoles’ luck was going to run out. An eventual loss was inevitable, but this was an unceremonious conclusion to the second-longest win streak since the 1970s.
The Seminoles struggled with turnovers all season, while the Ducks valued the football and entered the game ranked third nationally in turnover margin. It was this inherent flaw that doomed FSU.
Down 18-13 at halftime, FSU was in a position to overtake the Ducks in the second half, just like they had to so many other opponents this season.
Freshman running back Dalvin Cook, who had game-winning touchdown runs late against Louisville and Miami, broke off a 10-yard scamper during the first drive of the second half. FSU appeared to be gearing up for a critical score, but linebacker Derrick Malone ripped the ball out of Cook’s hands before he hit the ground.
It was the beginning of a turnover-fest in which FSU lost the ball on five of six possessions, resulting in six straight touchdowns for the Ducks.
“After halftime, we were moving the ball up and down the field pretty well,” FSU senior receiver Rashad Greene said. “Then came a fumble. That kind of turned the momentum around. We got behind . . . and we continually shot ourselves in the foot. And things got out of hand.”
The Ducks then swiftly marched down the field, with Royce Freeman – another freshman back – scoring on a three-yard run to put Oregon ahead 25-13.
Winston hit freshman receiver Travis Rudolph for an 18-yard touchdown on the following drive, but Oregon responded with a 56-yard touchdown from Mariota to Darren Carrington. Down 32-20 midway through the third quarter, FSU held on to a slim hope that it could battle back.
But Cook fumbled again in Oregon territory and the Ducks capitalized again with another long score from Mariota to Carrington. Mariota had 338 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception on 26-of-36 passing with another score on the ground.
Winston walked over to Cook and reassuringly put his arm around the freshman after the turnover. The sophomore signal caller and Heisman winner – who finished with 348 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception – had not announced prior to the game whether he was returning to FSU next season, but it is likely that he will head to the NFL. Winston is 26-1 as a starter running the Seminoles’ offense.
FSU squandered several scoring opportunities in the first half that could’ve changed the flow of the game. Winston had a one-yard touchdown reversed upon a replay that showed his knee hitting the ground before the ball made it into the end zone on fourth-and-goal and Roberto Aguayo missed a 54-yard field goal before halftime. Also, FSU settled on a field goal after tight end Nick O’Leary was targeted in the end zone and clearly held on third-and-goal, but a penalty was not called. The sequence forced the Seminoles to settle on a kick instead of getting a fresh set of downs on the four-yard line.
In the end, the Seminoles simply ran out of breaks.
“It was a great run,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “What our guys accomplished and what they’ve been able to play and do and the quality of games in which they’ve been able to play in, it was an extremely great run. Hopefully, we can put together another one.”