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Jameis Winston Leads FSU to National Championship Over Auburn

Photo by Getty Images.

Photo by Getty Images.

Jameis Winston, whose season included accusations of sexual assault and winning the Heisman Trophy, added to his year to remember by spearheading Florida State’s historic comeback in the Rose Bowl Monday night. Needing a touchdown to secure the national championship, Winston calmly engineered the game-winning, 80-yard drive in the waning seconds, giving the Seminoles a thumping 34-14 victory for NCAA supremacy while simultaneously ending the SEC’s seven-year run on top.

“It was the best football game he’s played all year,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said, “and I’ll tell you why, because for three quarters he was up and down and he fought. And to pull it out in the atmosphere and environment and with what was on the line tonight, to me if that’s not a great player, I don’t know who is.”

Winston was less-than-sharp much of the night, as the Tigers built a 21-3 lead and looked to be en route to college football supremacy. But with the help from its defense and a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Levonte Whitfield, Florida State rallied. Still, it needed a touchdown trailing 31-27 with 1:19 to play.

Suddenly, that unsteadiness he showed all game eased. Winston was sharp, completing 6 of 7 passes for 77 yards on the game-winning assault. He had a 49-yard run-and-catch when he fit the ball into a tight window and receiver Rashad Greene, who snagged it, eluded two defenders and sprinted up the sideline for the big gain.

From there, with 13 seconds to play Winston lofted a pass for the conquering score from 2 yards to Kelvin Benjamin. “Once the ball is in the air on that post route, I’ve got to go get it, and I did,” Benjamin said. “Simple as that.”

Winston, on his 20th birthday, finished the game 20 of 35 for 237 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdown passes. He was investigated for a year-old sexual assault complaint in November, but after three weeks the Florida state attorney’s office determined it did not have enough evidence to charge him.

The BCS (Bowl Championship Series) went out with an instant classic, one of the best title games in its 16-year history. It will be replaced by a four-team playoff next season. And the Southeastern Conference’s seven-year winning streak in college football’s biggest game was snapped by the Atlantic Coast Conference school that played in the first three BCS title games but hadn’t been back since.

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