After struggling in the first half against a more-than-prepared Auburn Tigers football team, Florida State finally woke up and began to play like the undefeated team they were throughout the season. In what was one of the most exciting BCS Championship games in a long time, it looked like the Seminole’s storybook season was about to have a sad ending. But, Jameis Winston, the first freshman quarterback to lead his team to a national championship, completed 20 of 35 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns, all on his 20th birthday. He also ran for 26 yards in 11 carries. His pass to Kelvin Benjamin capped a furious final few minutes. Auburn led, 24-20, after a 23-yard field goal by Cody Parkey with 4:42 left. That lead lasted 11 seconds — as long as it took Florida State freshman Levonte “Kermit” Whitfield to sprint 100 yards with the kickoff.
But the Tigers came right back with a 37-yard touchdown run by Tre Mason to regain the lead, 31-27. Mason, a Heisman Trophy finalist, finished with 195 yards in 34 carries. All that did was set it up for Winston’s heroics. He cooly drove Florida State 80 yards in seven plays, the big gain coming on a short pass that Rashad Greene turned into a 49-yard gain. Green caught the ball in the right flat, split two Auburn defenders, and raced down the sideline. Five plays later — on the second play after an untimely Florida State penalty for delay of game — Winston found Benjamin. Florida State got a pass interference call on the next play, however — Davis was called for being over Green’s back — moving the ball to the two with a first down. Jameis Winston took advantage of the penalty and connected with wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin for a go-ahead 2-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds remaining to give the Seminoles the 34-31 win at the Rose Bowl.