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Florida State Wins A Thriller To Take College Championship

Florida State and Auburn put on a show Monday night with a college football championship game that went down to the wire and ended with Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston throwing a touchdown pass with just 13 seconds to go to bring Florida State the crown.

From 'Morning Edition': NPR's Tom Goldman on the championship game

At one point, the Seminoles were behind by 18 points.

The final score: Florida State 34, Auburn 31.

So, the teams didn't combine for the 100 points or more that some were predicting.

But the game — the last for the Bowl Championship Series system of choosing the NCAA's Division I champion — was a thriller, as NPR's Tom Goldman said on Morning Edition.

Just consider what happened in the final 4 1/2 minutes:

-- With Auburn ahead 24-20, Florida State's Kermit Whitfield returned a kickoff 100 yards to put his team back into the lead, 27-24.

-- Auburn responded with a 75-yard scoring drive, capped by running back Tre Mason's 37-yard rush for a touchdown. That put the Tigers ahead; 31-27. Auburn was 1 minute, 19 seconds away from winning the championship.

-- But Florida State came back. Beginning with the ball on their own 20-yard line, the Seminoles marched down the field. They won the game on Winston's 2-yard touchdown pass to receiver Kelvin Benjamin.

This morning's headlines help tell the story about last night's game in Pasadena, Calif.:

-- "Grand Finale" (ESPN)

-- "Magical Ending" (Sports Illustrated)

As we said Monday, next year the NCAA drops the BCS system, which has led to arguments over the years about whether the right two teams were playing for the title, in favor of a four-team playoff format. That likely means that next year the arguments will be over whether the right four teams are in the playoffs.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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