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PASADENA, Calif. (Seminoles.com) – The worst appeared to be over.
After a first half full of miscues and missed opportunities, the Florida State Seminoles went into halftime here at the Rose Bowl trailing Oregon by only five points.
FSU moved the ball with ease to start the third quarter and appeared poised to take the lead when freshman Dalvin Cook, one of the team’s brightest, lost a fumble.
It was the first of five FSU turnovers, all of which led to directly to Oregon touchdowns in a nightmare second half that helped the Ducks to a 59-20 victory in the first ever College Football Playoff semifinal.
Florida State’s school-record winning streak is over at 29 games. The Ducks are on to the national championship game in Dallas, where they will face either Alabama or Ohio State.
The Seminoles (13-1) played at arm’s length with Oregon for most of the first two quarters. They took an early lead on Roberto Aguayo’s 28-yard field goal before the Ducks went on an 18-3 run on the strength of two Royce Freeman touchdowns.
Karlos Williams answered with a late 10-yard TD and, even after Aguayo’s last-second 55-yard attempt missed off the left upright, FSU appeared to be in a good position.
Then the third quarter happened.
It started with Cook’s first fumble, which Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota turned into a 34-yard touchown pass just two plays later that made it 25-13.
FSU actually answered that score with a 15-yard TD pass from Jameis Winston to Travis Rudolph, but those were the Seminoles’ final points before a run of four straight possessions with a turnover.
First it was another fumble by Cook. Then a fumble by Winston that Oregon’s Washington returned for a 58-yard touchdown. Then a Winston interception that bounced off of Rudolph’s hands. Then, finally, a fumble after a first-down catch by Jesus Wilson.
With each turnover, the Ducks’ lead continued to grow. They spent the fourth quarter letting the play clock run down to two seconds before snapping the ball, a stark contrast from their usual hurry-up approach.
Oregon reached the 600-yard mark on an FSU defense for the first time since 1984, and their 59 points are tied for the most allowed in school history.
The Seminoles’ offense actually moved the ball well. They racked up more than 500 total yards and averaged more than six yards per play, but early red zone woes prevented them from finding their footing.
FSU finished 4-5 in the red zone, but mustered just two field goals in three first-quarter trips inside the 20.
Each team’s Heisman-winning quarterback put up a strong effort. Winston tied a school record for 300-yard games, putting up 348 and a touchdown on 29-of-45 passing.
Mariota, meanwhile, accounted for 400 total yards (338 passing) and four total TDs.
Freshman led FSU in both rushing (Cook, 15-103) and (Rudolph, 6-96), but seniors Karlos Williams (139 total yards) and Rashad Greene (six catches for 59 yards) had solid outings in their collegiate finales.