Oregon will play for the first ever College Football Playoff National Championship, and it clinched its berth in emphatic fashion.
The Ducks overwhelmed undefeated Florida State with a blazing fast offense and swarming defense en route to a dominant 59-20 win at the Rose Bowl.
The game was fairly even on both sides through one half, but Florida State continually shot itself in the foot with five second-half turnovers. And as the Seminoles continued to turn the ball over, the Ducks’ offense, led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota, continually cashed in with 41 second-half points – 35 of which came off FSU turnovers.
By the time the fourth quarter rolled around the game was already in hand, and Oregon continued to pile on as it punched its ticket to the Jan. 12 title game against either Alabama or Ohio State in Arlington, Texas.
While the final score may not reflect it, this was a tight contest early. Oregon’s lead was just 8-3 (Oregon successfully converted a two-point conversion following its first TD) and the Ducks’ defense kept it that way by stuffing Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston on a goal-line stand to open the second quarter.
That’s when Oregon’s tempo really started to take its toll. The Ducks’ drive following the goal line stand led to only a field goal to give Oregon an 11-3 lead, but its 19 plays were ran at hyper speed, spanning 88 yards in just 4:45 of game time.
And when the Seminoles got their own offense going, it stalled in the red zone and settled for another Roberto Aguayo field goal late in the second.
While the Seminoles struggled in the red zone, Oregon thrived. The Ducks again quickly worked their way down the field following Aguayo’s field goal and scored via a Thomas Tyner touchdown run to go ahead 18-6.
The Seminoles, who had won 29 consecutive games that included nine come-from-behind wins, didn’t wilt just yet as a six-yard Karlos Williams touchdown run cut the Oregon lead to 18-13 going into halftime.
Florida State opened the second half with the ball, looking to go ahead, but freshman tailback Dalvin Cook fumbled in Oregon territory. The Ducks quickly capitalized as tailback Royce Freeman was in the end zone just five plays later.
It was a sign of things to come.
After the teams traded two more touchdowns – a Winston 18-yard pass to Travis Rudolph and a Mariota 56-yard pass to Darren Carrington – Cook fumbled again, this time on a pass out of the backfield. Two plays later, Mariota hit Carrington behind the defense again to increase the Oregon lead to 39-20.
At this point, Florida State desperatetly needed a score and drove down to the Oregon 30-yard line. Instead of a field goal, Florida State went for it on fourth-and-5, and that’s where the flood gates opened.
Winston scrambled to avoid pressure and the ball simply slipped out of his hand. Oregon’s Tony Washington picked up the loose ball and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown, expanding the lead to 45-20.
Any thought that Florida State had another comeback in store ended there. Oregon added two more rushing scores – one from Mariota and another from Tyner – in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
Though Winston threw for 348 yards, Mariota was the clear winner in a battle of the last two Heisman winners. Mariota threw for 338 yards and two touchdowns whole also running for 62 yards and a score.
In all, the Ducks racked up 639 yards and looked like a team that can’t be stopped on offense.
Now Oregon will wait and see to find out which team it will face next, while the Seminoles tasted defeat for the first time since Nov. 24, 2012.
For more Oregon news, visit DuckSportsAuthority.com.
For more Florida State news, visit Warchant.com.
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