Florida State back on top after thrilling BCS championship victoryPASADENA, Calif
. -- It looked eerily familiar. It was every bit as exhilarating. With the clock ticking down on another BCS National Championship Game, a transcendent quarterback drove his team toward the south end zone of the Rose Bowl.
Eight years earlier, Vince Young ran for a score with 19 seconds remaining to lift Texas past USC 41-38. On Monday night, Jameis Winston threw a two-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds left to give Florida State a 34-31 victory over Auburn.
Both games were thrilling, down-to-the-wire classics. Both marked seminal moments in college football history. Young's scramble ended the Trojans' 34-game winning streak. Winston's pass ended the SEC's vaunted seven-year BCS stranglehold.
But as the Seminoles' band belted out "We Are the Champions," Florida State players weren't thinking of an ending. They were celebrating a rebirth. As the headline from the commemorative newspaper many held proclaimed: CHAMPS AGAIN!
Fourteen years after the Seminoles' last national title, it's finally true. Florida State is back.
"We put Florida State back on the map," said Benjamin, a Belle Glade, Fla., native whose catch capped the victory. "I had a lot of SEC [scholarship] offers, but I liked the direction this program was going. I knew Florida State was going to be back on top."
Fourteen years ago, the 'Noles last captured college football's ultimate prize near the tail end of one of the sport's most dynastic runs. Every year from 1987 to 2000, Florida State finished in the top four of the AP Poll. It won two national titles (in '93 and '99) and played for several others. In fact, beginning in '98, the program competed in the first three BCS title games before falling into more than a decade of mediocrity, during which it endured the end of legendary coach Bobby Bowden's tenure.
On Monday, in the 16th and final edition of the sport's controversial postseason system, a coach who worked at Auburn when the BCS began and a quarterback who was five years old the last time Florida State hoisted the crystal football engineered the biggest comeback in BCS title game history. The Seminoles -- who had beaten their first 13 opponents in 2013 by an average margin of 42.3 points -- needed all 60 minutes to survive their final adversary. But when they did, they looked a lot like those teams from Florida State's heyday -- cold-blooded and confident.
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