NCAA Football

Ohio State Defensive Lineman Steve Miller Snares Pick-6 vs. Alabama

Thanks to a pick-six by a defensive lineman, the Ohio State Buckeyes took a 13-point lead against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2015 Allstate Sugar Bowl.

On an Alabama 3rd-and-7 late in the third quarter, Buckeyes defensive lineman Steve Miller picked off a Blake Sims pass. The 6'3", 255-pounder then ran 41 yards to the end zone for the touchdown.

This was something that doesn't happen often against Alabama.

A tremendous call from the coaching staff put Miller in position to make a play.

Miller's pick-six gave the Buckeyes a 34-21 lead with less than four minutes to play in the third quarter.

[FanSided, Twitter]

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Ranking the Best Pass-Rushers in the 2015 NFL Draft

Quarterback has become the most important position in the NFL, which means that the guys who go after the quarterback are almost equally as valuable.

Whether or not they play as a defensive end or standing up as an outside linebacker, pass-rushers are vital to having a stout defense. This class has a number of exciting prospects, and while it's still extremely early in the process, let's take a look at how those top guys shape up.

This is not based off of position, because a few of these guys could play a number of positions in the pros.

Here are the five best pass-rushers at this point in the 2015 NFL draft process.

Begin Slideshow

Barry Alvarez Dances in Wisconsin Locker Room After Outback Bowl Victory

Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez coached the Badgers for just one game this season, but there is no doubt that he's one of the guys.

After leading the Badgers to a 34-31 overtime victory over the Auburn Tigers in the 2015 Outback Bowl, the 68-year-old Alvarez broke out a little dance for the team. And the players loved it.

[Wisconsin Badgers, h/t SB Nation]

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Fiesta Bowl 2014: Prospects Who Shined in Boise State vs. Arizona Clash

In a thrilling Fiesta Bowl from University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, the Boise State Broncos upset many of the fans in attendance with a 38-30 win over the Arizona Wildcats. 

It seemed as if the Broncos might blow the Wildcats out when they took a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, but Arizona made it respectable before falling. The final score was the most important result, but some of the team's stars were undoubtedly being scouted by professional talent evaluators.

Three players likely did an excellent job improving their draft stock.

 

Grant Hedrick

The Broncos' senior quarterback has had an up-and-down career, but he finished his time in the program on a winning note. Hedrick threw for 309 yards and a touchdown pass on Wednesday. He finished the season with 3,696 yards, 23 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions. He also led the nation in completion percentage at 70.8.

Per Bay area broadcaster Tim Swartz, Hedrick's improvement from the beginning of the season to the end can't be ignored:

He'll need to further prove himself at the Senior Bowl, if he's invited, and at the NFL Combine to get an opportunity at the next level. He's just 6 feet tall, so that'll work against him, but at the very least, Hedrick may have a career ahead of him in the Canadian Football League.

 

Scooby Wright

Aside from having one of the best names in college football, Wright has also proven to be one of the most productive pass-rushers in the country. He won the Chuck Bednarik Award and Lombardi Award for his performance in the regular season on the strength of 14 sacks.

Wright is just a sophomore, so he'll have at least one more season left at Arizona. In the Fiesta Bowl, he didn't add to his sack total, but he was still a factor all over the field.

He had 10 tackles with two coming for a loss of yardage. Expect for Wright to be one of the most spoken names by talent evaluators in 2015.

 

Jay Ajayi

Boise State's running game was formidable all game against Arizona. Ajayi was one of the main reasons for the success on the ground. 

The junior running back had 134 yards rushing on 22 carries, and he scored three touchdowns. The explosive game finished off what has been an excellent year for Ajayi.

He ran for 1,823 yards and a whopping 28 touchdowns. The Score captures Ajayi breaking the school's single-season record for touchdowns:

If his career at Boise State is over, he'll finish as the school's third all-time leading rusher and tied for second in rushing touchdowns. 

Walter Football ranks Ajayi eighth among running backs, but he might be in position to climb the positional ladder after the Fiesta Bowl.

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Ohio State WRs Hook Up on Trick Play Pass and Catch at End of Half vs. Alabama

The Ohio State Buckeyes have pulled to within one point of the Alabama Crimson Tide going into halftime in the 2015 Allstate Sugar Bowl, thanks to a trick play.

With less than 20 seconds remaining in the first half, Buckeyes receiver Jalin Marshall took the handoff and pitched the ball to fellow wideout Evan Spencer, who then threw a beautiful pass to Michael Thomas in the end zone. Thomas did a great job of catching the ball and getting a foot down in bounds.

Take a closer look at Thomas' catch:

With that score, Alabama's lead was cut to 21-20. The 13-yard touchdown capped off a 77-yard drive that took just 80 seconds.

[Vine]

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Formerly Cuddly Oregon Ducks Finally Tough Enough in Program-Altering Win

All those perceptions of being “soft?” Dead. All of the branding jokes and the idea that Oregon provides nothing more than fashion innovation? Gone. 

As the sun began to set behind California's San Gabriel Mountains, the Ducks revealed the blueprint to conquer—nay, slaughter—college football’s unbeatable villains, the "Zombie Noles," with style befitting Phil Knight's favorite team. 

To slay these Zombie Noles, you need a handful of key ingredients. You need a Heisman quarterback for starters. Good luck there. You need exceptional play out of both lines, which seems reasonable enough. You need breaks, and more importantly, you need to maximize these opportunities. And, most relevant to undoing a 29-game win streak, you need a physical football team, a term that is rarely used when speaking of the greatest neon show going today.

“We just tried to out-team them,” Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich said when interviewed after the game on ESPN's broadcast. 

His team did just that Thursday with a blowout 59-20 win, a score that still doesn’t quite process, given the circumstances.

Oregon didn’t just come away with a Rose Bowl victory and the first-ever win in the College Football Playoff. In its dismantling of Florida State—and that’s precisely what this was, a clinic on the brightest spotlight imaginable—the Ducks delivered a program-altering message to the entire world.

We are not soft. We are not built on gimmicks and gadgets. We wear nice clothing and move much faster than you, and WE ARE TOUGHER THAN YOU.

An entertaining team became a complete program—a feared power—in a matter of four hours.

There is still so much at stake with a national championship to be played Jan. 12 and the ultimate dream now just 60 minutes from becoming a reality. In a season that has been about that next, next step—with the College Football Playoff overshadowing all real-time results—you must stop and admire what just took place. 

The first half was not the cleanest of stretches for either team. Heisman-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota was off, missing high often and throwing an interception late in the half that nearly put Florida State in business. 

Going into halftime, nobody saw a Ducks blowout coming. Oregon only led by five, 18-13, and the Seminoles were in an all-too-familiar position, poised for a yet another comeback.

Only this time it was different.  

With history in mind, the second half was as one-sided of a 30-minute stretch as we saw all season. Five Florida State turnovers helped secure a 41-7 run for Oregon in the final 30 minutes, and quite frankly, it could have been far worse. The Ducks eased up with ample time remaining. 

Florida State's 39-point loss is the 2nd-worst loss by an AP top-5 team in a bowl game (1991 Cotton Bowl, Texas lost by 43 to Miami)

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 2, 2015

Electric freshman Dalvin Cook coughed it up twice, finally proving to be human after a magnificent stretch to end the season. But the most notable turnover came when FSU quarterback Jameis Winston slipped and lost the football as he tried to keep a 4th-and-5 attempt alive late in the third quarter, with the Seminoles down 39-20.

Tony Washington picked up live the live ball and returned it the other way for a score, thus ending all possibilities of another miraculous comeback. 

By the very end, Florida State tapped out. After a Mariota touchdown run put Oregon past the 50-point mark, ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit didn’t hold back on the developments.

“Florida State has quit,” Herbstreit said, which is not something you hear in most telecasts, especially for a team that hadn’t lost in more than two years. 

In their defense, the Noles didn't have much of a choice. 

Formerly "soft" Oregon forced them to quit. It came from the arm and legs of Mariota, but also from the hand of a vastly underrated defense. 

The Ducks D, which has been the most criticized aspect of as Oregon’s meteoric rise, delivered its most impactful performance yet. It looked the part of an elite unit.

Thomas Tyner, the forgotten man in the Oregon backfield, averaged 9.5 yards per carry and scored twice. Royce Freeman, the 230-pound true freshman bruiser, also scored two touchdowns.

The wideouts made plays, and the blocking downfield from this unit was a work of art. If you’re a coach in need of the proper materials to teach your young wide receivers how to make an impact downfield, acquire this tape and show it as often as you can.

The five turnovers the Ducks forced proved to be the ultimate difference. They meant more than Mariota’s 338 passing yards and the team’s five combined rushing touchdowns. 

With pressure came fumbles and interceptions. Those plays were then turned into points. This was a team performance of the utmost kind, an assembly line of production that impacted all phases.

You don’t beat undefeated teams by 39 points by chance; you do it with complete, dominating efforts, efforts that should further boost the reputation of a program that has come so far so fast.

“I don’t know, that’s up to you,” Helfrich responded when asked what the win meant for the reputation of the program. “We believe a ton in who we are.”

Since he won’t say it, allow us to do the heavy lifting. 

These aren't your daddy's cuddly Ducks. 

The Oregon team you watched on Thursday night was not the same one you have been sold over the past five years. What this means in less than two weeks—when the national championship is decided and the football season reaches its conclusion—is another conversation entirely.

For Oregon, it will be yet another televised showcase to prove just how far it has come. It will be the opportunity to take that next, next step. 

In dismantling the defending national champions and conquering the unrelenting Zombie Noles, the Ducks dismantled the stigmas that have followed the program for so long.

And they did it, just like they’ve done all along, as a team.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Formerly Cuddly Oregon Ducks Finally Tough Enough in Program-Altering Win

All those perceptions of being “soft?” Dead. All of the branding jokes and the idea that Oregon provides nothing more than fashion innovation? Gone...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Jameis Winston Claims He Will Play Baseball for FSU in 2015

After a disappointing 59-20 loss in the Rose Bowl, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston announced he'd play baseball for the Seminoles in 2015.

Cork Gaines of Business Insider reported the news:

Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times provided Winston's response to a question about the NFL draft:

Despite seeing his team's 29-game winning streak snapped at the hands of Oregon on Thursday, Winston still fared rather well on the big stage. Last year's Heisman Trophy winner went 29-of-45 passing for 348 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

It's understandable Winston would say the following after such a demoralizing defeat, via The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore:

Winston has excelled as a pitcher during his time in Tallahassee, compiling a 2-2 record with a 1.95 ERA in two seasons (h/t TheBaseballCube.com), and showed significant improvement as a sophomore last year.

Being a two-sport star in top-level NCAA athletics is a demanding commitment. It will be interesting to see how Winston's decision impacts his 2015 NFL draft stock, should he decide to go pro.

Although Winston might have a future in baseball, he has a real chance to be a top-10 pick in the forthcoming NFL draft. Only his Rose Bowl counterpart, Marcus Mariota, stands a chance to be the first quarterback selected.

With the amount of time Winston has had to put in to digest a complex, pro-style offense under Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher, football would appear to be his most viable path as a professional athlete.

However, the lack of viable, franchise-caliber QB alternatives in this draft class may afford Winston the flexibility to play baseball without harming his stock too much.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Jameis Winston Will Get Last Laugh over Marcus Mariota in the NFL

The last image we will see of Jameis Winston as a college quarterback was not a pretty one. Marcus Mariota's Oregon Ducks won the Rose Bowl Thursday 59-20, but we haven't seen the last of these two. 

Bleacher Report College Football Analyst Michael Felder debates who will be the better pro QB.

Who will be better in the NFL, Mariota or Winston?

Watch the video and let us know!


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Jameis Winston's Legacy Irreparably Damaged in Embarrassing Loss to Oregon

Jameis Winston's legacy wasn't ruined in Thursday's 59-20 loss to Oregon. But it will never be quite the same.  

Winston entered the Rose Bowl college football's ultimate winner: 26-0 as a starting quarterback, defending national champion, one-time Heisman Trophy recipient. Any claim one levied against him—he gets in too much trouble, he throws too many interceptions, he this, he that, etc.—was countered with the way he played in big moments and the fact that he never lost a game. 

Until, in spectacular fashion, he did.

Oregon ran away with the first-ever College Football Playoff semifinal, coasting after Florida State collapsed in the third quarter.

Winston actually played well for the first 35 minutes, making some incredible throws, but he couldn't right the ship when the Ducks began to pull away.

His low point came on a 4th-and-5 at Oregon's 30-yard line. The 'Noles trailed 39-20 and needed to finish a drive that had already lasted seven plays. Head coach Jimbo Fisher called a timeout, aware of how important the upcoming down would prove.

And then…well…this:

The play itself was not Winston's fault—tight end Nick O'Leary fell on his route, and Oregon's eight-man coverage shell did its job—but the way in which it happened was. It was a meme-able, GIF-able, Internet-able moment on par with Mark Sanchez's butt fumble.

But everything that happened after made it worse.

First, ESPN cameras caught Fisher beckoning for Winston and whispering in his ear—a scene reminiscent of the "Humble Pie" ordeal in October. The clip has no audio, but Fisher appears to cuss at Winston and threaten to bench him if he didn't calm down.

He didn't calm down.

Winston threw a pick two plays later, threading a pass into traffic that was tipped by Travis Rudolph and intercepted by Erick Dargan. The throw was (again) not Jameis' fault in a vacuum, but it underscored a night in which he didn't have his signature mojo.

And therein lies the reason for his irreparably damaged legacy. He didn't have his mojo when he needed it most. 

Florida State was supposed to be the team that never died—the Zombie 'Noles—and Winston was the face of that effort. Every time you thought you had him pinned, he wriggled away and made you tap out. Spotting the other team a lead, making them think they have a chance, then crushing their dreams was the crux of his mythology.

But this time? It was Jameis' dreams that got crushed.

Winston has not declared for the 2015 NFL draft, but he's expected to. There's a strong chance this was his last college game.

If it was—and especially if it wasn't—he will still go down as one of the best college players of the decade. He went 14-0 and won the national title and the Heisman Trophy as a freshman.

Even in the post-Johnny Manziel era, that was a season unlike any we had ever seen. And he followed it up by leading a far less talented group to the first-ever College Football Playoff. 

To wit, Winston's legacy was damaged more than ruined in Pasadena. That he really didn't play that poorly helps. And he still has a presumed long NFL career ahead of him.

"What people think about me is none of my business, really," Winston said before the game, per Greg Couch of Bleacher Report. "It's not like I just look up what people say about me all the time. I really don't know what the word around the street is."

For the immediate future, that might be a blessing. Because now that he has lost a game, the word around the street has taken a different tone. He no longer wears the armor of his undefeated record.

His legacy will never be the same.

 

Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeigh35

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Jameis Winston's On-Field Demeanor More Concerning Than Play in Rose Bowl

The play will be etched on Jameis Winston's football tombstone. Left with nowhere to go in the pocket and Oregon defenders barreling toward him, Winston somehow slithered his way past two defenders and rolled right, where he cocked back to throw a pass before a third defender could bring him down.

One problem: He didn't have the ball. Winston fumbled it as he was attempting the throw and flailed to the ground, where he had a field-level view of Tony Washington returning the ball for an Oregon touchdown. At 45-20, the game was for all intents and purposes over. The Ducks clinched their championship berth on the next possession with an interception. 

Some will look at the fumble as karmic retribution. Others will use the Vine to troll the living hell out of #FSUTwitter and be all the happier for it. Others will do the dumb thing and use that as evidence blaming Jameis Winston for Florida State's elimination.

Another problem: It's not. At all.

For large stretches of Thursday evening, in fact, Winston was fantastic. Whenever scouts begin to doubt Winston for character concerns, all they'll have to do is throw on first-half tape and be totally convinced of risking their jobs to draft him. 

Accurate passes across his body, darts thrown in the middle of traffic and perfectly placed sideline throws were the norm. Winston was every bit as good as he was in the Georgia Tech game, where at times he single-handedly propped up his Seminole teammates.

The difference here in this scenario is that Winston's teammates didn't turn in performances worth saving.

Dalvin Cook went from supplanting Karlos Williams to the sidelines after two critical fumbles. Receivers dropped passes on high-priority downs. Receivers dropped a number of catchable balls, including Winston's interception, which bounced off the hands of a Florida State receiver and into the waiting arms of Erick Dargan. Even Winston's fumble came after a Johnny Manziel-esque evasion of pressure.

While Florida State's been defined by overcoming the odds, the margin for error in Pasadena was nonexistent. Not with Marcus Mariota doing his best Vince Young impression. Not with Thomas Tyner burning people on the edges. Not with the Seminole secondary looking as if it was doing a real-life "Breaking Madden" experiment.

Some of this was poor coaching, others a lack of execution. And some was just plain bad luck. Every time Florida State made a mistake, Oregon was there to capitalize. It was as if all the good luck Florida State had accrued over the season turned into a hard, painful regression all at once. That Winston's fumble will catch an enormous amount of the blame here is inevitable, but it's not exactly fair.

The lasting Winston image for me was not the turnover but what came afterward. When the loud, fiery leadership that teammates so often tout became the exceedingly loud, exceedingly petulant noise. Winston barked at receivers, yelled at referees and pranced up and down the sidelines yelling as if he were a hamster kept in his cage too long.

Anyone who has watched Tom Brady play football knows this is not atypical for a quarterback. Teammates and coaches spent the last week offering quotes to reporters like this from co-offensive coordinator Randy Sanders, per The Oregonian's Andrew Greif:

He gets the guys to believe in him by getting it done. It doesn't matter how much leadership you have, presence you have, charisma you have, if you don't go out on the field and win, then people aren't going to follow you. He loves to play and compete. It doesn't matter if it's football or H-O-R-S-E or throwing rocks at a street sign, whatever, throwing footballs at a garbage can, he just loves to compete and play.

The difference Thursday was in the reaction. As Winston barked, his teammates folded. Receivers tossed their arms in the air in disgust after drops. Blank stares forward were the norm, as if everyone but Winston knew the game was slipping away.

Yet Winston didn't sense the moment. His mouth kept running at the rate Oregon was putting up points. It got to the point where head coach Jimbo Fisher had to tell Winston to shut up—in those words and a few choice others—or risk being benched.

That is not the expression of a man telling someone to shut up for the first time. It's the expression of someone who's had that conversation many times and is exasperated by it. 

Again, these aren't fatal flaws. Anyone who's played sports long enough has had a coach curse at him or her. It's the nature of the competitive beast. What's concerning is that Winston hasn't yet turned those instances into teachable moments to become a better leader.

The moments where Brady explodes (and I know it's unfair to compare Winston to Tom Brady) are effective because he's learned how to balance his competitive nature against the demands of the moment.

Long has the cliche been you can tell who people are when they're at their worst. On Thursday, Florida State was most certainly that. That Winston reacted the way he did and his coaches and teammates reacted the way they did, then, is far more concerning than any fumble destined for dumb Internet memes.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Rose Bowl 2015: Game Grades, Analysis for Oregon vs. Florida State

The second-ranked Oregon Ducks obliterated the No. 3 Florida State Seminoles 59-20 during the 2015 Rose Bowl, the inaugural game of the College Football Playoff.

Oregon (13-1) exploded for a 27-point third quarter, burying the 'Noles (13-1) and advancing to the national championship.

Pass Offense: Early on, Marcus Mariota wasn't crisp throwing downfield, doing most of his damage at the line of scrimmage. However, he shredded FSU in the second half, finishing with 338 yards and two touchdowns. Darren Carrington reeled in both scores, and Evan Baylis was consistently powerful after the catch.

Run Offense: Thomas Tyner bullied his way to 124 yards and two touchdowns, while Royce Freeman chipped in 44 yards and two scores. Mariota, the potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft, added 62 yards and a touchdown.

Pass Defense: Three-man pressure forced Jameis Winston into a panicked decision, and the FSU gunslinger slipped and fumbled, and Tony Washington returned it 58 yards for a score. Erick Dargan snagged a late interception to eliminate any lingering thoughts of a comeback.

Run Defense: Oregon stuffed Karlos Williams and Winston at the goal line in the first quarter, and that stand set the tone for a commanding victory. Derrick Malone chased down Dalvin Cook and ripped the ball away from the freshman, a takeaway that set up an Oregon touchdown. The Ducks defense certainly bent, but they never broke.

Special Teams: Aidan Schneider nailed a 28-yard field goal and six extra points, and Ian Wheeler notched 38.5 yards per punt. The kick-coverage unit limited FSU returners to 18.9 yards per attempt before the Seminoles' fate was sealed.

Coaching: Offensive coordinator Scott Frost set up two of Oregon's third-quarter touchdowns beautifully, capitalizing on the aggressiveness of Florida State's cornerbacks by attacking their tendency to jump a route. Defensive coordinator Don Pellum refused to allow deep passes during the second half, making Winston throw underneath passes—which coincidentally led to turnovers.

 

Pass Offense: Winston wasn't the problem, completing 29 of 45 passes for 348 yards and a touchdown in what could've been his final collegiate game. Cook and Bobo Wilson both fumbled after a reception, and Travis Rudolph deflected a pass into Dargan's hands.

Run Offense: Cook and Williams combined to rack up 183 yards and a touchdown, but the former lost a costly fumble that changed the game. Though the 'Noles found plenty of running room, finishing runs with touchdowns—or the ball—undeniably affected the outcome.

Pass Defense: FSU's secondary didn't allow anything deep through 30 minutes, but seeking turnovers and tackles for loss rather than covering a receiver bit the Seminoles during the decisive third quarter. The 338 passing yards allowed was the second-worst mark this season.

Run Defense: Tyner, Mariota, Freeman and the Ducks offensive line simply destroyed the Florida State front seven. The 'Noles surrendered 301 rushing yards and five touchdowns, which was the most against FSU by a non-triple-option offense this year.

Special Teams: Roberto Aguayo connected on 28- and 26-yard field goals before clanking a 54-yarder off the uprights. Florida State blocked an extra point, but the timing—down 45-20—makes the solid play borderline irrelevant.

Coaching: Jimbo Fisher's play-calling wasn't the issue; instead, the blame for three fumbles and an interception rests squarely on the players. Defensive coordinator Charles Kelly watched his unit allow a season-worst 639 yards and eight touchdowns, and Florida State's 29-game winning streak ended.

 

Follow Bleacher Report college football writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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Winners and Losers of New Year's Day Bowls

If the New Year's Day bowl games are any indication, 2015 is going to be all sorts of fun.

This bowl season has been wildly entertaining for the most part, and New Year's Day was no exception. We had one overtime game, one come-from-behind thriller and perhaps the best individual play you'll see this postseason. 

Florida State, which hadn't lost a game since 2012, finally saw its undefeated streak and national title hopes go down the drain to Oregon in the Rose Bowl. 

Which games, players and coaches were winners on New Year's Day? Which ones fell short? The answers are in the following slides.

As you can see, Winners and Losers is up before the end of the Sugar Bowl between Alabama and Ohio State. Fear not, as this post will be updated accordingly at the conclusion of that game.

Begin Slideshow

Oregon vs. FSU: Score and Twitter Reaction for 2015 Rose Bowl

The No. 2 Oregon Ducks didn't just make a statement. They made a history.

In the first ever college football playoff game, Mark Helfrich's squad gained 639 yards of total offense and cruised to a 59-20 win over No. 3 Florida State, booking a spot in the national championship with an absolute tour de force performance.

The 59 points were a a record in the 101st edition of the Rose Bowl, per ESPN Stats & Info:

Marcus Mariota threw for 338 yards and had three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing), Darren Carrington had seven receptions for 165 yards and two scores and the Ducks gained 301 yards on the ground. They punted just once—on the first drive of the game. 

Florida State kept pace with the explosive Ducks attack for a while, finishing with 528 total yards. But the Seminoles, known all year for their second-half prowess, turned the ball over four times in the third quarter and five times overall. 

Oregon turned those takeaways into 35 points, pulling away with a dominant 27-point third quarter. ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit summed it up:

Much of the focus during the past month surrounded Mariota and Jameis Winston, the pair of Heisman-winning quarterbacks. But as ESPN's Travis Haney noted, both of them began the game a bit sluggish:

Yet neither team had trouble moving the ball, amassing over 500 combined yards of total offense in the first half. 

Oregon put together three drives that went at least 70 yards, including a mesmerizing 19-play, 88-yard march that somehow only resulted in a field goal. CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd put an impressive number on the Ducks' electrifying, up-tempo attack:

On the other side of the ball, the Seminoles found great success on the ground, a rare feat against Oregon's recently stout defense, as ESPN Stats & Info illustrated:

A fourth-down goal-line stand for the Ducks at the start of the second quarter proved to be difference, though, and they carried an 18-13 lead into the locker room. 

Then the third quarter happened.

At first, it was a series of alternating haymakers. Oregon went 69 yards after Derrick Malone forced and recovered a fumble by freshman Dalvin Cook, who was extremely productive in the first half. Florida State came back with 75-yard drive on a series of pin-point throws by Winston. Oregon responded with a 56-yard touchdown hookup between Mariota and Carrington. 

But then the comedy of errors began for Florida State. Cook fumbled for a second time, and two plays later, Mariota found Carrington, this time a fake screen and gorgeous throw down the sideline for a 30-yard score. 

ESPN's Brett Edgerton pointed out the second-half improvement from Mariota: 

Florida State's season has been defined by resiliency, but its magic was nowhere to be found. In fact, the Seminoles got just the opposite. On the subsequent drive, Winston lost his balance, tripped over his own shoelaces and fumbled the ball in a wacky sequence that led to a 58-yard defensive score for Tony Washington. 

Business Insider's Cork Gaines provided a look at the play:

At that point, Cleveland Browns polarizing quarterback Johnny Manziel had to chime in: 

The score made it 45-20, and in case the 25-point margin or Oregon's unstoppable offense wasn't enough of an indication, ESPN Stats & Info provided some historical proof that the game was all but decided: 

An interception on the next drive turned into a 23-yard touchdown run for Mariota, and the fifth turnover—another fumble, this time by Jesus Wilson—in a 15-minute span helped Thomas Tyner get into the act. 

Many of the starters were eventually pulled, as the Seminoles' 29-game winning streak came to end with no drama. 

The embarrassing loss is certainly going to sting for Florida State. But with Cook, Travis Rudolph and slew of other talented players returning, the Seminoles will remain among the nation's elite in 2015. 

As for Oregon, its work isn't done. It will now get 10 days to prepare for the national championship on January 12. Whether it's Alabama or Ohio State on the other side of the field, the Ducks have made a strong case to be feared in college football's penultimate battle. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Internet Memes Put Humorous Spin on Jameis Winston's Horrific Rose Bowl Fumble

As with any crazy sports moment, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston's "stumble-fumble" has been a hit on the Internet.

Trailing Oregon 39-20 in the third quarter in the 2015 Rose Bowl, Florida State decided to go for it on 4th-and-5 from the Ducks' 30-yard line. The play could not have gone any worse for the Seminoles, as Winston fell backward, fumbled the football and had it returned for a touchdown.

That turnover opened the floodgates. Oregon cruised to a 59-20 victory.

Once the Internet saw the "stumble-fumble," memes popped up in a hurry.

 

[Vine, Twitter]

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Nebraska Football: 5 New Year's Resolutions for the Cornhuskers

Nebraska football fans have been looking forward to the new year even more than usual with the firing of Bo Pelini and the hiring of Mike Riley. So as a new year dawns, it’s a good time to look forward and see what kind of resolutions for 2015 would help move things forward and make things better for the Cornhuskers.

Here are five to consider—and hopefully keep in place longer than the two weeks my “do sit-ups every night” resolution is likely to survive.

Begin Slideshow

Versatile 4-Star Recruit Kris Boyd Tweets Top 5

One of the best defensive backs in the country has narrowed his list of college choices down to a final five, setting up a battle between four Texas schools and the defending national champions.

Kris Boyd, a 4-star cornerback who also plays running back for Gilmer (Texas) High School, made his announcement via Twitter on Thursday:

Rated as the No. 101 prospect in the Class of 2015 and the country's 10th-best cornerback, according to 247Sports, the 6'0", 185-pound Boyd is scheduled to participate in Saturday's U.S. Army All-American game.

Boyd has already made an official visit to Florida State, going there in late November, and has booked a trip to Baylor on Jan. 23. Trips to TCU, Texas and Texas A&M remain to be scheduled.

According to Wescott Eberts of SB Nation, Boyd "isn't worried about the depth charts at the schools that he's considering." However, a look at who his prospective destinations have coming back in the secondary and who they've already received commitments from points at a few schools where he'd have a better chance to play right away.

Every team figures to have a starting spot to fill next season, and Florida State could be replacing both of its corners if juniors Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams declare early. Texas is graduating seniors Quandre Diggs and Mykkele Thompson, while A&M loses Deshazor Everett and TCU will be without Kevin White.

All five schools have at least one cornerback commitment in their 2015 classes, with TCU already getting pledges from three players including 4-star prospect Deshawn Raymond. Florida State has a pledge from the country's fourth-best corner recruit, 5-star Tarvarus McFadden, while Baylor's lone corner commit is 3-star Jordan Tolbert.

Baylor's only senior in the secondary is nickelback Collin Brence.

Though most schools are looking at Boyd as a defensive back, he ran for more than 3,500 yards and scored 60 rushing touchdowns as well as 15 receiving TDs in three varsity seasons. Brian Perroni of Gigem247.com wrote Texas A&M is the lone school giving strong consideration to using Boyd as an athlete, "something he has been excited to hear," and with A&M having loaded up on defensive backs in the previous recruiting classes his best chance to get on the field might be in a hybrid role.

 

Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.

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Jameis Winston Fumbles on Crucial 4th-Down Play, Oregon Ducks Return It for TD

Facing a crucial 4th-and-5 in the third quarter of the 2015 Rose Bowl—a game that doubled as the national semifinal—Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston made a mistake that likely ended any chance his team had at a comeback.

Down 39-20 with just under three minutes to go in the quarter, Winston kept the play alive by scrambling around in the backfield, but as he tried to throw the ball, he lost control of it. Ducks linebacker Tony Washington scooped up the fumble and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown.

As you may notice, Winston was not the only one who had a rough time on the play. The referee took quite the spill as the Ducks went for the loose ball.

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher had a simple message for Winston after the costly mistake:

Of course, in a battle of the past two Heisman Trophy winners, the 2012 winner of the award, Johnny Manziel—who was an Oregon commit at one point—needed to weigh in on what was happening:

Oregon's extra-point attempt was blocked, but the Ducks still held a comfortable 45-20 lead with 1:36 remaining in the third quarter.

[Vine]

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Oregon's Derrick Malone Rips Ball Away from Florida State RB Dalvin Cook

If Oregon goes on to defeat Florida State in the 2015 Rose Bowl, this play by Ducks linebacker Derrick Malone will go down as one of the biggest plays of the game.

Oregon held an 18-13 lead at halftime, but Florida State got the ball to start the second half. With the Seminoles driving, Malone came up with a game-changing play.

Malone caught Florida State running back Dalvin Cook from behind and ripped the ball away for a momentum-shifting turnover. Oregon went on to score a touchdown on the ensuing drive to take a 25-13 lead.

[Vine]

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Sugar Bowl 2015: Live Score, Highlights for Ohio State vs. Alabama

Keep it locked right here as Bleacher Report brings you live coverage of the 2015 Sugar Bowl! 

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