Oregon blows past Florida State to win Rose Bowl, advance to title game – USA TODAY
USA TODAY Sports’ Paul Myerberg breaks down how the Oregon Ducks stunned the Florida State Seminoles in the Rose Bowl to advance to the national championship game.
PASADENA, Calif. — Breaking down Oregon’s 59-20 victory over Florida State in the College Football Playoff semifinals at the Rose Bowl:
THE FALLOUT: For all the talk about Oregon’s “finesse” reputation and a program that can’t win the big one against traditional powers, the Ducks are on the verge of changing perceptions forever. Not only did Oregon authoritatively stop Florida State’s 29-game winning streak and advance to the College Football Playoff championship game, the Ducks proved they could do things their way and win a game of this magnitude on the big stage.
They weren’t traditional – going for two after the first touchdown, going for an ill-advised fourth down early in the game instead of a short field goal – but they stayed true to their roots and looked like both the faster and more physical team.
For the Seminoles, this incredible run had to end sometime. It was apparent all season they weren’t as good as last year’s national title team, but they kept finding a way to come back and win – until they ran into an Oregon team that simply kept answering every time Florida State threatened and finally overwhelmed them.
FOOTBALL FOUR: Rating and debating college football and the Playoff
WHAT WE’LL BE TALKING ABOUT: In a game that was pretty evenly played for a long time, this was all about which team could maximize its opportunities. The Ducks won that battle going away, as the Seminoles got just three points out of two early trips inside the 10-yard line and cost themselves three likely points at the end of the half with a dropped pass. The Ducks, on the other hand, seemingly converted every Florida State mistake into points. The most critical were early in the second half when Seminoles freshman running back Dalvin Cook lost a pair of fumbles, both on promising drives. Oregon scored five plays after the first, then needed just two plays on the next, opening a 39-20 lead as Marcus Mariota connected with Darren Carrington on a pair of touchdown passes.
THE DECIDING PLAY: What does the end of an era look like? For Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, it was almost humiliating. Desperately trying to make a play and will his team back into the game, Winston spun away from Oregon’s pressure on a fourth-and-5 like he’s done in so many clutch moments, spotting running back Karlos Williams open for a big gain. But Winston, perhaps influenced by linebacker Rodney Hardrick, lost his balance and slipped backwards, bobbling the ball as he fell. Oregon linebacker Tony Washington was right there to scoop it up and take it back 58 yards unchallenged for a touchdown and a 45-20 lead.
KEY STAT: Through three quarters, this was almost a statistically even game. Florida State had 318 yards on 75 plays, while Oregon had 333 yards on 62 plays. But Oregon’s run of 21 points on its first 12 plays of the second half did what nobody else has done for two-plus seasons: Put the Seminoles in too big of a hole to come back.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE ROSE BOWL