Perfection achieved: FSU tops Auburn in thriller to win BCS title

PASADENA, Calif. — In a season of dominating performances, Florida State was bound to have a nail-biter.

And Florida State needed not one but two comebacks for the program’s third national title.

Birthday boy Jameis Winston rebounded from his worst game of the season to march Florida State 80 yards down the field in 58 seconds, capped by a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin, as the Seminoles defeated Auburn 34-31 in the BCS championship game.

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Florida State rallied from an 18-point rally, going ahead 27-24 with 4:31 to go on Kermit Whitfield’s 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Auburn answered, using a 37-yard touchdown by Tre Mason to go up 31-27 with 1:19 to go. Mason had 195 of Auburn’s 232 rushing yards.

But then Winston, who had struggled all night on his 20th birthday, put together a seven-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in under a minute. On first-and-goal from the 2, he found Benjamin over the middle for the game-winner with just 13 seconds to go.

Winston, who was named the offensive MVP, finished 20 of 35 for 237 yards and two touchdowns, but he had been just 11 of 24 heading into the final 15 minutes. The Heisman Trophy winner became the 14th player to win college football’s most prestigious award and also claim a national title in the same season.

Florida State won its third national title and became the fourth team in the BCS era to finish the season 14-0. It was the last national title game of the BCS, and it was arguably one of the best.

Jimbo Fisher won his first national title in January 2004 as LSU’s offensive coordinator. On Monday night, he won a title in his fourth season as Florida State’s head coach.

As Florida State players and coaches took to the podium to receive the crystal football, more than 40,000 Seminoles fans stood and did the war chant as they celebrated a perfect season.

Fisher’s predecessor, coaching legend Bobby Bowden, was on the sideline as an honorary captain. Bowden won national titles with Florida State in 1993 and ’99, and he always said one of his hopes was to play in a Rose Bowl.

It never came true, but on Monday, Bowden was able to watch the program that he built win a title.