The No. 2 Oregon Ducks took the No. 3 Florida State Seminoles to school, administering a 59-20 beat down. Marcus Mariota demonstrated why he deserved the Heisman, racking up 337 yards, and three touchdowns, including one on the ground to offset a late first half interception that resulted in no points for the Noles. Winston did his best to keep his team in it but also turned the ball over twice, with a fumble and an interception, both of which resulted in Oregon touchdowns.
FSU had taken flak all year for squeaking out wins against apparently inferior teams. Their best win of the season was arguably against Georgia Tech who wound up trouncing Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl on Wednesday. At the end of the first half, the outcome of the game looked far from settled with the Noles trailing by 5 and receiving the ball to start the half. Mariota missed a few easy throws on the opening drive, resulting in a three and out and the Ducks were held to a field goal on their third drive following a successful two point conversion. Given the Seminoles’ track record of come-from-behind wins, a five point deficit seemed to be right where they wanted to be going into the half.
A Dalvin Cook fumble on the drive that opened the second half marked the beginning of the implosion of the hitherto undefeated Seminoles.
The Ducks had shown that they were difficult to stop on offense, with a tempo orchestrated perfectly by Mariota that had the Noles defense on their heels throughout the first half. In the third quarter, they demonstrated that their defense was to be feared as well. Despite allowing Winston to tally ten more yards than his Heisman counterpart, Oregon held him to a single passing touchdown and stuffed him on a fourth and goal quarterback sneak attempt in the first half. They allowed no Seminole receiver to reach triple-digit yardage and turned two Dalvin Cook fumbles into touchdowns, essentially negating the only player not named Winston, who had -15 rushing yards on eight attempts, while Cook ground out 103 yards on 15 attempts.
Mariota did a great job showcasing the balance of the Duck’s offense, handing it off to Drew Carrington for two touchdowns and 165 yards on a mere seven attempts. The Hawaiian star wasn’t averse to airing it out, favoring Darren Carrington for two touchdowns on seven receptions for 165 yards. Tight end Evan Baylis also put together a nice highlight reel, rumbling through tackles for 73 yards on six attempts.
The FSU Seminoles will have a long trip home, angry at themselves and unsure of the future. A large number of the players did not bother to stick around for post-game handshakes. Jimbo Fischer may have threatened to bench Winston when the former Heisman winner wouldn’t cool off as the blowout became a reality. With Winston probably declaring for the draft, FSU is set for a sharp drop out of the pool of contenders for next year’s playoffs.
The Ducks will have a short period to celebrate and prepare for their January 12th matchup with Ohio State. Following an impressive victory over top-ranked Alabama, the Ducks will need to expect more stout resistance down the stretch to finally claim their first national championships.