By the start of the fourth quarter, the Rose Bowl lacked for drama, but there was hardly time to spend time pondering a lopsided final score in the first College Football Playoff semifinal.
Oregon’s unraveling of Florida State was so quick and sudden, there wasn’t much time to think about it.
A five-point third quarter lead ballooned to a 39-point rout in 11 minutes and 31 seconds of game time.
Oregon defeated Florida State 59-20 to advance to the national championship game in Dallas on Jan. 12. The Ducks will face the winner of the Sugar Bowl between Alabama and Ohio State.
Florida State, meanwhile, saw the end of its 29-game winning streak in spectacular fashion in what may be the final game for Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston.
INSTANT ANALYSIS: Oregon 59, Florida State 20
Player of the game: Marcus Mariota
Fumbles were the determining factor of Florida State’s loss, but Mariota was the one who capitalized on turnovers. He had an uneven first half, throwing an interception and nearly throwing another that was dropped by Jalen Ramsey. Mariota took over with short field and led 34 unanswered points until he was lifted in the fourth quarter. The Heisman winner completed 26-of-36 passes for 337 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Turning point: Winston’s fumble with 1:36 left in the third quarter
The fumble was bizarre as Winston scrambled around trying to make a play after his team gave up two quick scores. Winston slipped on the turf and gave up an unforced fumble. Linebacker Tony Washington took it back 91 yards for a touchdown to give Oregon a 45-20 lead. There would be no more Florida State comebacks after that.
Unsung hero: Evan Baylis
Oregon’s senior tight end caught four passes all season. With wide receiver Devon Allen sidelined just before the game, Baylis helped fill the void as the Ducks’ second-leading receiver. He finished with six catches for 73 yards.
Needed more from: Dalvin Cook
That’s a tough thing to say about a player who rushed for 103 yards on 15 carries, but even before Cook fumbled twice in the second half, Florida State needed him more. Now, part of that is on Jimbo Fisher. Cook was slicing through the Oregon defense but Fisher twice pulled him in the red zone. Perhaps it’s no coincidence Florida State twice settled for field goals.
Critical call: Darren Carrington’s 57-yard touchdown catch
Oregon’s freshman receiver got a break when Tyler Hunter slipped on the turf helping him to a 57-yard touchdown in the third quarter to take a 32-20 lead. The play call, though, was perfect. Cornerback P.J. Williams crept up to the line to defend a receiver who caught a short pass seven yards a play earlier. Mariota instead went to the next level to catch Carrington in one-on-one coverage.
Stat that matters: 34
Oregon outscored Florida State 34-0 on turnovers as the Seminoles collapsed in the second half with three fumbles and an interception on four consecutive possessions.