If Jameis Winston heads to the NFL as everybody expects, the Florida State quarterback will remember the Rose Bowl as the site of his greatest college achievement and his most disappointing day.
Just under a year after the Seminoles won the national championship on the same hallowed turf, Winston lived a nightmare against Oregon on Thursday.
Winston threw an interception and lost a comical fumble during the Seminoles’ disastrous second half in their 59-20 loss to the Ducks in the first College Football Playoff semifinal in Pasadena, California.
The stark reality of this defeat was obvious while Winston trudged off the field: He had lost a football game as the starting quarterback for the first time since Nov. 25, 2011, in his senior year of high school.
Winston was unbeaten over the last two years for the majority of Florida State’s 29-game winning streak, which came to a crashing end in Arroyo Seco.
Winston went 29 of 45 for 348 yards, regularly showing off his pinpoint throwing ability and football smarts during early drives. But the Ducks ran away when Florida State committed turnovers on four consecutive drives in the second half – an interception and a fumble by Winston sandwiched between two fumbles by freshman running back Dalvin Cook.
With the Seminoles desperately trying to hang in after falling behind 39-20, Winston scrambled, slipped and fumbled late in the third quarter, losing the ball over his head as he lost his footing while attempting to pass.
Two plays later, Winston’s pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by Erick Dargan at midfield. Oregon drove for yet another score, and the Seminoles were irretrievably behind.
Florida State’s troubles began early, when it missed several opportunities to jump in front of Oregon. The Seminoles got 12 plays inside the Oregon 15 in the first half, but didn’t score a touchdown until Karlos Williams’ run in the final minute.
Cook adds to FSU woes
Dalvin Cook racked up 90 yards rushing in the first half at the Rose Bowl. The freshman fumbled away Florida State’s chances in the second half, with two big miscues that helped doom the Seminoles.
Cook’s initial fumble came on the Seminoles’ first drive of the second half, when he got stripped by Derrick Malone Jr. with Florida State in Oregon territory. Later in the third quarter, Cook fumbled again and the Ducks scored on their next possession.
The Seminoles’ mistakes weren’t all Cook’s fault. They fumbled seven times in all.
Oregon shatters records
The Ducks broke 10 Rose Bowl records, headlined by scoring the most points (59) in the history of the event and securing the largest non-shutout winning margin (39).
Oregon had 639 yards of total offense to break Pac-12 Conference foe Southern California’s 7-year-old mark, and the Ducks had eight touchdowns to match Michigan’s total in 1902, back when a touchdown was worth five points.
And the 27-point third-quarter blitz by Oregon matched the most points ever scored in a quarter.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.