Fumble, young man, fumble: FSU waxed by Oregon in Rose Bowl
PASADENA, Calif. — Florida State followed its 2014 script and fell behind on the first day of 2015.
This time, there was no comeback — and it wasn’t even close.
Florida State fumbled four times and a tipped Jameis Winston pass was intercepted as a five-point Seminoles deficit quickly turned into a rout. No. 2 Oregon capitalized with touchdowns on six straight drives after halftime to cruise to a 59-20 win over No. 3 Florida State on Thursday in the Rose Bowl.
The Ducks will now play the Alabama-Ohio State winner on Jan. 12 for the national championship.
Dalvin Cook fumbled twice, once on a run and another after a catch. Winston also scrambled to elude would-be sackers but then fumbled and Tony Washington scooped the ball up and ran 58 yards for a touchdown to put the Ducks ahead 45-20 with 1:36 left in the third quarter.
"We started turning it over," head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "One of the worst quarters we’ve had. We turned it over four times in the third quarter, and every time we were moving the football and had a chance to score points."
Florida State also missed its chances in the first half to put points on the board and make the game more competitive. Winston was stopped a yard short of the goal line on fourth-and-1 on the first play of the second quarter.
Another drive, later in the second quarter, ended at the Oregon 8 as Florida State settled for a field goal.
Would it have made a difference? Could the momentum have shifted in the Seminoles’ favor? Maybe not. But Florida State had a chance to go into halftime leading and let it slip away.
Here are a few observations from Florida State’s game:
1. Florida State’s defense was half-decent, half-awful.
Oregon had six possessions in the first half and produced three scores (two long TD drives and a field goal). But Florida State also got some early stops, keeping the game close by forcing a punt and then making Oregon turn it over on downs.
The Ducks are a tough team to stop once they get a first down and use their quick tempo to wear down defenses. Each of the scoring drives in the first half was long (nine, 19 and 10 plays) and it wore down Florida State.
In the second half, Florida State was simply overmatched. Oregon scored with ease and Marcus Mariota finished with 338 passing yards while the Ducks’ ground game had 301 yards and averaged 6.7 yards per carry.
2. Cook is program’s first 1,000-yard rusher as freshman.
The future of Florida State’s offense is bright no matter what quarterback Jameis Winston opts to do — return for his redshirt junior season or leave for the NFL Draft. Either way, Florida State can lean on a workhorse running back in Cook.
Cook became the first Florida State freshman to run for 1,000 yards in a single season. He had 15 carries for 103 yards on Thursday, giving him 1,008 rushing yards. Clearly he needs to protect the ball better but he is a dynamic player.
3. Winston fumbled but was very accurate.
If this was Winston’s final game in an Florida State uniform, it was still a strong performance. Winston has won 26 of 27 career starts and on Thursday he completed 29 of 45 passes for 348 yards.
His interception bounced off the hands of Travis Rudolph. And his fumble was inexcusable. But Winston now has thrown for 300 yards in 14 of 27 college games.
4. Florida State’s winning streak was one for the ages.
The loss to Oregon shouldn’t do anything to diminish Florida State’s impressive wins — either dominating or close — the past two years. Florida State won 29 straight games, the longest streak in school and ACC history.
"We made history," defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. said. "It was something that had never been done in Florida State history and we did it. When you come back at your reunion, you’ll be able to sit down and talk about all these great moments you’ve experienced while being here."
A national championship and two ACC titles were included in one of the longest win streaks in college football history.
5. Florida State’s other streak is also snapped.
Florida State had not lost a bowl game since a 35-28 loss to Kentucky in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 31, 2007. The Seminoles had won six straight bowl games, two under coach Bobby Bowden and Jimbo Fisher won games following the 2010-13 seasons (including the BCS title game).
Oregon’s points total is also the most scored against Florida State in a bowl game. Florida won 52-20 in the 1997 Sugar Bowl.