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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Oregon's defense sparks rout of FSU, advances to national championship

PASADENA, Calif. -- Thanks to a big assist from turnover-plagued Florida State, Oregon is headed to the first College Football Playoff national championship game.

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Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston (5) is tackled during the 2015 Rose Bowl college football game at Rose Bowl. Oregon Ducks defeated Florida State Seminoles 59-20. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

PASADENA, Calif. -- Thanks to a big assist from turnover-plagued Florida State, Oregon is headed to the first College Football Playoff national championship game.

The second-ranked Ducks scored six second-half touchdowns -- five off giveaways by the third-ranked Seminoles -- to change the first semifinal from a close game to a rout.

The Ducks emerged with a 59-20 win in the 101st Rose Bowl game to earn a berth in the Jan. 12 title game in Arlington, Texas. Oregon will meet the winner of the Alabama-Ohio State semifinal, played later Thursday in the Sugar Bowl.

"This is incredible," said Oregon's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota. "I'm so proud of these guys. Now, we've got one more to take care of."

Florida State, which trailed 18-13 at the half, had the first possession in the second half and immediately put together a promising drive to move from its own 20 to the Oregon 41. However, running back Dalvin Cook was stripped of the ball by Oregon linebacker Derrick Malone Jr. after running 10 yards, which was the beginning of the end for the Seminoles.

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Five plays later, Ducks running back Royce Freeman scored from 3 yards out to give his team a 25-13 lead.

Another Cook fumble was converted by Oregon into a 30-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to wide receiver Darren Carrington for a 39-20 lead.

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston then fumbled, with the ball scooped up by Oregon linebacker Tony Washington and returned 58 yards for a touchdown and a 45-20 lead with 1:36 left in the third quarter.

Winston threw an interception on the Seminoles' next possession, which Oregon turned into a 23-yard touchdown run by Mariota to make it 52-20.

"We just tried to out 'team' them (in the second half)," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "I think our defense just played very well by creating a bunch of turnovers."

Florida State managed to come back from deficits all year. Asked why his team was not able to adjust this time, coach Jimbo Fisher said: "It was the turnovers. It was different because, when turnovers come, they change momentum. Momentum is different than making adjustments. ... I think momentum and the way they got the ball in the turnover situation, that was the key."

Mariota completed 26 of 36 passes for 338 yards and two touchdowns. His counterpart, former Heisman winner Winston, completed 29 of 45 passes for 348 yards and one touchdown. Each signal-caller was intercepted once.

Oregon running back Thomas Tyner (13 carries, 124 yards) closed the scoring with a 21-yard run that made it 59-20 with 10:19 remaining in the game. That score was made possible by another Florida State fumble, this one by receiver Jesus Wilson.

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In all, Oregon scored 41 second-half points. The 59 total points set a single-game Rose Bowl record.

The loss was the first for Winston, who is likely to enter the NFL Draft. While he will have plenty of good things to look back on -- including an undefeated national championship season -- immediately after the game, he was hurting.

"It hurts badder than whatever you can imagine," he said. "No one likes to lose, man. I mean, losing is not in my vocabulary, but we fell short today. I just hope we can learn from this because I ain't felt this way in a long time."

Mariota guided Oregon on touchdown drives of 73 and 75 yards in the first half, but overthrew a wide-open receiver Dwayne Stanford at the goal line with what could have been a third scoring pass.

Mariota, who was fortunate to have a sure interception dropped by Florida State safety Jalen Ramsey near the Seminoles' end zone, was picked off late in the first half by defensive back Nate Andrews.

Winston guided his team on a 71-yard touchdown drive in the first half, and was lucky that an errant pass was dropped by an Oregon defender in the end zone.

Florida State opened the scoring with Roberto Aguayo's 28-yard field goal with 9:06 left in the first quarter.

Oregon responded with Mariota moving the Ducks down the field, completing four passes and deftly pitching the ball to wide receiver Charles Nelson for a 14-yard run to the Seminoles' 1-yard line. Two plays later, Freeman scored on a 1-yard run. Quarterback Taylor Alie's two-point conversion pass to linebacker Christian French gave Oregon an 8-3 lead with 6:55 left in the first quarter.

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Oregon took an 11-3 lead on Aiden Schneider's 28-yard field goal early in the second quarter. Florida State closed within 11-6 on Aguayo's 26-yard field goal with a little more than five minutes left in the half.

Mariota took his team 75 yards on 10 plays, with Tyner's 1-yard run giving the Ducks an 18-6 lead.

Florida State responded immediately, driving 71 yards to a 10-yard touchdown run by running back Karlos Williams with 36 seconds left in the half to close the gap.

 

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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