By Scott Crumbly
SEC Digital Network
PASADENA, Calif. – No. 2 Auburn stormed out of the gates in Monday night's BCS National Championship Game, but a slew of big plays for No. 1 Florida State proved to be just enough to edge out the Tigers for a 34-31 victory. Auburn running back Tre Mason ran for 195 yards and a touchdown for the Tigers (12-2), but a last minute drive by Jameis Winston and FSU (14-0) proved to be the difference in the game.
After FSU used a Roberto Aguayo field goal to take a 3-0 lead in the early going, Auburn responded with a powerful 21-0 run to seize control of the game. During the run, Nick Marshall threw a pair of touchdowns - one to Melvin Ray and another to Mason - and then punched in a 4-yard score on the ground to give the Tigers an 18-point lead.
The 'Noles responded with an 11-play, 66-yard scoring drive that brought the score at half to 21-10.
The second half proved to be a back-and-forth battle, with the two teams trading haymakers.
Winston hit fullback Chad Abram for an 11-yard touchdown pass, which Auburn responded to with a Cody Parkey field goal. On the ensuing kickoff, the Seminoles' Levonte Whitfield took the ball 100 yards for a score to give FSU its first lead since the first quarter of the game. Not to be outdone, the Tigers used an eight-play, 75-yard march capped by a brusiing, 37-yard TD run by Mason to reclaim the lead with only 1:19 remaining in the game.
Winston and the Seminoles responded one last time with a seven-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by a two-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin, leaving the Tigers just 13 seconds to respond. Auburn's ensuing drive was thwarted, and the Seminoles captured their first national title since 1999.
Marshall threw two TDs in the loss for Auburn to go along with 217 yards. Sammy Coates hauled in four passes for 61 yards, while Melvin Ray and Mason were responsible for both receiving touchdowns.
Winston finished with 237 yards and two scores for FSU, with Rashad Greene leading the way on the outside with 147 yards on nine catches.
Passing – Nick Marshall, 14-for-27, 217 yards, 2 TD, INT
Rushing – Tre Mason, 34 car, 195 yards, TD
Receiving – Sammie Coates, 4 rec, 61 yards
Passing – Jameis Winston, 20-for-35, 237 yards, 2 TD
Rushing – Devonta Freeman, 11 car, 73 yards, TD
Receiving – Rashad Greene, 9 rec, 147 yards
• Auburn, Florida State and Ole Miss had the nation's longest bowl win streaks entering this bowl season. FSU and Ole Miss have now won six straight, while tonight's loss snapped Auburn's impressive streak.
• Auburn has a 22-14-2 all-time record in bowl games. The Tigers are 4-9 all-time when facing the nation’s No. 1 team.
• Auburn is 5-4-1 historically in games involving two top-10 teams.
• With 232 rushing yards, Auburn finishes the season with the most rushing yards in the nation with 4,596 (328.3 per game, also first in the nation). In fact, Auburn is the first SEC team to ever lead the NCAA in rushing.