4:59am

Tue January 7, 2014
Sports

Florida State Beat Auburn To Become College Football Champs

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 6:56 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The Florida State Seminoles completed their undefeated run a college football championship last night. In Pasadena, here in southern California, the Seminoles won the title game of the Bowl Championship Series, the BCS, with a 34 to 31 win over the Auburn Tigers. This is the last season that will follow the controversial BCS format and NPR's Tom Goldman reports the Seminoles provided a classic finale.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Before the thrills, it was a pretty good game at halftime, quiet enough for Roy Kramer to reflect. Kramer was one of the main people who helped create the BCS in 1998 with its primary goal of matching the top two ranked teams in a national title game. There was lots of criticism over the years because the BCS wasn't a playoff system, which will be in place next season.

But as Kramer looked out at the Rose Bowl Field last night, waiting for the second half to start, he said Florida State and Auburn had the potential to show how great the BCS actually was by pairing the best against the best.

ROY KRAMER: I just hope it's a great football game because that's what we tried to create, was that game that would excite people about college football.

GOLDMAN: It took until well into the fourth quarter, but Roy Kramer got his wish.

(SOUNDBITE OF BCS GAME)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Whitfield and Williams are back deep...

GOLDMAN: With four and a half minutes left, auburn built its lead to 24-20 on a field goal and then kicked off to Florida State's Kermit Whitfield. He's a five-foot-seven-inch freshman who, his coach says, ran the third fastest 100 meter dash in high school track history. Last night, he blazed 100 yards on the football field.

(SOUNDBITE OF BCS GAME)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: ...end zone. Touchdown, Florida State!

GOLDMAN: But that was just the start. Auburn got the ball back and finished its drive with the outstanding running back Tre Mason blasting through for a 37 yard touchdown run. Auburn was up 31-27, a minute and 19 seconds away from a national title. As the side of the stadium wearing Auburn orange buzzed in anticipation, the Florida State red side ruined their impending party.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERS)

GOLDMAN: Florida State's Jameis Winston, the Heisman Trophy winning freshman quarterback, capped a long drive with a two yard touchdown pass to receiver Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds left in the game. In a season of effortless wins, neither the Seminoles nor Winston had been challenged like this. He said afterwards, he was ready.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

JAMEIS WINSTON: I wanted to be in that situation. Because that's what great quarterbacks do. That's what the Tom Bradys, Peyton Mannings, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, that's what they do.

GOLDMAN: Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher said it was Winston's best game of the season because Winston wasn't his best.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

JIMBO FISHER: Anybody can do it when it's their A game night. If that's not a great player I don't know what one is.

GOLDMAN: Of course, last night was not all about Jameis Winston, even though much of the college football season was, with his superlative play on the field, and with a rape allegation that left questions about his off-field behavior. Last night, says Fisher, was about all of Florida State football.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

FISHER: We had the fake punt, the return, our defense was dominant in the second half, the offense got going when it had to. To me, that was what it's all about and this is a complete football team.

GOLDMAN: Auburn had a pretty good team itself. Afterwards, Tigers players talked about letting down their fans because they didn't keep their promise of accomplishing one of the greatest turnarounds ever from last year's dismal three and nine season, to national champs. But they, along with Florida State, gave a rousing farewell to the BCS that even Roy Kramer might not have envisioned. Tom Goldman, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: It's NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.