Score Strip

  1. League: NCAAF
  2. Texas A&M vs. South Carolina
    Aug 28ᵗʰ 12:00 PM
    (18) TAMU
    (4) S CAR
  3. Temple vs. Vanderbilt
    Aug 28ᵗʰ 1:00 PM
    TEMP
    (24) VAND
  4. Weber St. vs. Arizona St.
    Aug 28ᵗʰ 3:00 PM
    WEBR
    (20) AZ ST
  5. UCF vs. Penn St.
    Aug 30ᵗʰ 7:00 AM
    (10) UCF
    PSU
  6. Elon vs. Duke
    Aug 30ᵗʰ 12:00 PM
    ELON
    (23) DUKE
  7. UCLA vs. Virginia
    Aug 30ᵗʰ 12:00 PM
    (16) UCLA
    UVA
  8. Alabama vs. West Virginia
    Aug 30ᵗʰ 12:00 PM
    (7) ALA
    W VA
  9. Jacksonville St. vs. Michigan St.
    Aug 30ᵗʰ 12:00 PM
    JV ST
    (3) MI ST
  10. Clemson vs. Georgia
    Aug 30ᵗʰ 12:00 PM
    (8) CLEM
    GA
  11. Ohio St. vs. Navy
    Aug 30ᵗʰ 12:00 PM
    (12) OH ST
    NAVY
  12. S. Dakota St. vs. Missouri
    Aug 30ᵗʰ 1:00 PM
    SDK ST
    (5) MIZZ
  13. Louisiana Tech vs. Oklahoma
    Aug 30ᵗʰ 1:00 PM
    LT
    (6) OKLA
  14. Florida St. vs. Oklahoma St.
    Aug 30ᵗʰ 1:00 PM
    (1) FL ST
    (17) OK ST
  15. Arkansas vs. Auburn
    Aug 30ᵗʰ 1:00 PM
    ARK
    (2) AUB
  16. Wisconsin vs. LSU
    Aug 30ᵗʰ 1:00 PM
    (22) WIS
    (14) LSU
  17. South Dakota vs. Oregon
    Aug 30ᵗʰ 3:00 PM
    S DAK
    (9) ORE
  18. Fresno St. vs. USC
    Aug 30ᵗʰ 3:00 PM
    FRES
    (19) USC
  19. UC Davis vs. Stanford
    Aug 30ᵗʰ 3:00 PM
    UCD
    (11) STAN
  20. Rice vs. Notre Dame
    Aug 30ᵗʰ 3:30 PM
    RICE
    (21) ND
  21. Washington vs. Hawaii
    Aug 30ᵗʰ 8:00 PM
    (25) WASH
    HAW
  22. SMU vs. Baylor
    Aug 31ˢᵗ 1:00 PM
    SMU
    (13) BAYL
  23. Miami (FL) vs. Louisville
    Sep 1ˢᵗ 8:00 PM
    MIA F
    (15) LOU
  24. View All

Kickoff return propels Florida State to title

AP - Sports
Kickoff return propels Florida State to title
.

View gallery

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- America, meet Kermit Whitfield.

In a game with a Heisman winner, a Heisman finalist and future NFL players on both sides, a freshman made the momentum-shifting play that helped Florida State rally for a 34-31 victory over Auburn in the final BCS championship game.

The Seminoles trailed 24-20 with less than five minutes remaining when Auburn kicked off following a 22-yard field goal. Whitfield, one of the fastest players in the country, caught the ball in the end zone and took off up the left seam. Teammate Karlos Williams made a block and an Auburn player got out of his lane to open a gaping alley.

Whitfield was never touched en route to a 100-yard return that gave the Seminoles their first lead, 27-24 with 4:31 left in the fourth quarter, since going up 3-0 in the first quarter. He knew he was gone soon as Williams sealed off the defender, allowing him to turn the corner.

''Knew nobody was going to catch me,'' Whitfield said. ''I saw green. I saw daylight. That's all I saw. I can't really explain.

''I'm gone. You can't touch me.''

Coach Jimbo Fisher actually predicted Whitfield would score a touchdown at halftime. Coaches and players felt they were close to breaking a long one on previous kick returns.

''He said either it's going to be a set up for good yardage, or it's going to be a touchdown,'' Williams said. ''I said, 'No. 7, what it's going to be?' He said, 'It's going to be a touchdown.'''

At 5-foot-7, Whitfield is the smallest player on the roster, but also the fastest. He ran a 10.15 100-meter dash in high school that was the third-fastest in Florida high school history. Whitfield said he couldn't remember the last time he was caught from behind on the football field. The last time he ran a 40-yard dash he finished in 4.37 seconds - and that was untrained. He believes he's faster now.

Whitfield had only three rushes during the season, but two went for touchdowns and he averaged 36.7 yards per carry. He caught five passes for an average of 17.8 yards per reception. Whitfield added a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Wake Forest on Nov. 9.

''He's as good as anybody I've ever been around,'' Fisher said, ''and to do it at that stage - our team blocked very well - but he has that finishing speed and I think the sky's the limit for that guy in his whole career here at Florida State.''

Whitfield collapsed under the weight of celebrating teammates when he hit the sideline.

''I had no wind in me from when I ran the touchdown,'' Whitfield said. ''I was so tired I couldn't hold myself up.''

Whitfield never expected a moment like this. He's been happy to have earned a starting job as a freshman.

Whitfield stormed to the corner of the field and jumped into the stands after the game.

''I just expect the unexpected,'' Whitfield. ''I just go with the flow.

''I just play football.''

A reporter asked Whitfield about being the smallest player on the roster and making the game-changing play.

''Biggest heart,'' Whitfield said, tapping himself on the chest.

View Comments