Two years and two months later, Florida State finally lost a game.
Oregon, helped by five second-half turnovers by Florida State, outscored the unbeaten Seminoles 41-7 in the second half and rolled to a 59-20 win in the Rose Bowl and the first semifinal of the College Football Playoff.
The game moves the No. 2 ranked Ducks in next week’s championship against the winner of the Sugar Bowl between Alabama and Ohio State. Suffice to say, they looked pretty good and have an excellent chance to win it all.
Florida State had won 29 straight games, including 14 this season. The Seminoles’ last lost was Nov. 24, 2012 to Florida, 37-26.
Here are my three “Short Takes” on the game.
1. Playing with fire finally costs Florida State: The Seminoles trailed in nine of their last 11 games before the playoffs but rallied to win. This was the wrong opponent to tempt fate again. It might not have made a difference in the result but the Seminoles blew this game in the first half. They drove the ball effectively on their first three possessions but came away with only two field goals. Two drives reached the red zone. On one drive, they had four cracks from the Oregon seven-yard line or closer and came away with nothing (failing to score on third and fourth downs from the one). The Noles outscored their first 13 opponents by 100 points after halftime (225-125). But after trailing in this one 18-13 at halftime, they were blitzed 27-7 in the third quarter and 41-7 in the second half, killing themselves with five turnovers. On the eve of the game, former Texas coach Mack Brown was asked about the Seminoles ability to come back in games. His response: “It definitely gives a team confidence when they’ve done it before. But it’s a dangerous game to play, especially against a team like this.” No kidding.
2. Is Jameis Winston’s stock down? A quarterback expected to go in the first 10 picks in the NFL is not going to be hammered by scouts for one bad performance. But Winston, who had 17 interceptions before playing probably his best game of the season against Georgia Tech in the ACC championship (21 for 30, 309 yards, three touchdowns), was a mess Thursday. He threw an interception that led to an Oregon touchdown and had three fumbles. Only one fumble was lost but it was a biggie: He lost the ball while scrambling away from the Oregon pass rush in the third quarter and it was returned 58 yards for a touchdown by Oregon’s Tony Washington. Winston looked rattled at times, but his talent remains off the charts. So I’m guessing he’ll still go very early in then draft, despite this game and questions about his character.
3. Potential downside of a college playoffs: The Rose Bowl and first semifinal the first College Football Playoff did not suffer from the empty seats so prevalent at other bowl games. But it certainly didn’t have a neutral site feel to it. The ratio of Oregon fans to Florida State fans was about 8-to-1, for at least one reason: Geographical differences between the two schools, relative to Southern California, and the obvious cost of travel. But it’s also possible some FSU fans, wanting to save for one potential expensive road trip, was waiting for a possible FSU appearance in Arlington, Texas (a little closer and cheaper). Most people can’t afford to travel to one game, let alone two. But in a college playoff system with neutral zone sites, there’s no way to avoid this. For what it’s worth, I’ve long believed a college playoff should work the same as the NFL: Home fields for higher seeds in the early rounds, a neutral site for the championship game.
— MyAJC: ROSE BOWL: Is FSU most hated great team in college history? — AJC: ROSE BOWL: Oregon’s Helfrich credits Falcons’ Koetter for his success — AJC: ROSE BOWL (short takes): FSU an underdog for first time in 50 games — MyAJC: ROSE BOWL: Will Jameis Winston prove to be worth risk in NFL? — AJC: ROSE BOWL (short takes): Ex-Tech coach Charles Kelly’s challenge — AJC: Weekend Mini-Predictions: Locals win, Bama and Oregon to finals — MyAJC: It’s Arthur Blank’s show now, and that could be a problem? — AJC: Falcons fire Smith, keep Dimitroff, and here are some candidates — MyAJC: Falcons are done, and so it Mike Smith — AJC: Say goodbye to Falcons, Smith, but Blank handled this poorly — AJC: Falcons hire search firm — hey, nice timing, Blank — MyAJC: Julio Jones has reaffirmed his worth to Falcons — MyAJC: Christmas is 12 days? Well, this calls for presents — AJC: With Bobo gone, should Richt call plays again at Georgia? — MyAJC: Even amid gloom, Falcons showing positive signs — AJC: Hey Hawks, here’s your chance to get Josh and Joe back! — MyAJC: Falcons can make most of this illogical journey