Marcus Mariota threw for 338 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a third score leading Oregon to a record-setting 59-20 victory over turnover-plagued Florida State in today’s 101st Rose Bowl Game, which was also the first College Football Playoff Semifinal.
The Ducks set Rose Bowl Game records for scoring and total offense, with 639 yards.
The previous scoring record was 49, initially set by Michigan in the inaugural 1902 game against Stanford, which was stopped with eight minutes to play, then matched by the Wolverines in 1948 against USC and the Trojans against Illinois in 2008. USC set the previous yardage record of 633 in 2008.
The victory before a crowd announced at 91,322 advances the Ducks (13-1) into the College Football Playoff National Championship Jan. 12 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Oregon will face Ohio State, a 42-35 winner over Alabama, winner of today’s other semifinal, the Sugar Bowl.
“Just tremendous total team effort by our guys, sticking together in the second half,” said Oregon coach Mark Helfrich, whose team was ranked second, one spot ahead of the Seminoles, the defending national champions.
The Ducks led 18-13 at halftime, then scored touchdowns on each of their first six possessions of the second half, five after turnovers by Florida State.
“I felt very comfortable with what we did, our game plan, execution, the guys,” Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said after his team’s 29-game winning streak ended. “We just got to hold onto the football. Turnovers are the most critical thing about the outcomes of games.”
Mariota, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner, completed 26 of 36 passes with one interception and was selected as the Offensive Player of the Game.
Oregon outside linebacker Tony Washington was selected as the Defensive Player of the Game. He recovered a fumble by Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston in the third quarter and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown.
Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner, completed 29 of 45 passes for 348 yards and one touchdown. He had one pass intercepted and lost a fumble.
Oregon led in total offense, 639 yards to 528, first downs, 30-28, and time of possession, 32:43-27:17.
The Ducks began the second-half scoring deluge three minutes, six seconds into the third quarter when Royce Freeman ran three yards for his second touchdown, five plays after inside linebacker Derrick Malone Jr. forced and recovered a fumble by running back Dalvin Cook.
The Seminoles responded with a 10-play, 75-yard drive, concluding with Winston’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Travis Rudolph.
Mariota threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Darren Carrington on the ensuing series.
The Seminoles’ next drive ended with Cook fumbling the ball away. Mariota threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Carrington two plays later.
After Washington’s touchdown, Mariota ran 23 yards for a touchdown with 13:56 left in the fourth quarter, six plays after Erick Dargan intercepted a Winston pass at Florida State’s 43-yard line.
Thomas Tyner ran 21 yards for the game’s final touchdown with 10:13 remaining.
Seminole kicker Roberto Aguayo opened the scoring with a 28-yard field goal 5:54 into the game. Oregon then drove 73 yards on nine plays, culminating with Freeman’s one-yard touchdown run.
The Ducks increased their lead to 8-3 when operating out of the spread offense, Taylor Alie, the holder and backup quarterback passed to Torrodney Prevot, usually an outside linebacker, for a two-point conversion.
Florida State appeared to re-take the lead on the first play of the second quarter when Winston extended his arms across the goal line on a fourth- and-one play, but video review determined his knee touched the ground at the one-yard line.
Tyner’s touchdown with two minutes, 18 seconds left in the second quarter completed a 10-play, 75-yard drive. Mariota completed all six of his passes on the drive for 52 yards.
The Seminoles responded with a six-play, 71-yard drive in 1:36, culminating with Karlos Williams’ 10-yard touchdown run with 41 seconds remaining in the half.
Both teams kicked field goals in the second quarter — a 28-yarder by Oregon’s Aidan Schneider and a 26-yarder by Aguayo.
Aguayo’s 54-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the first half hit the left upright.
“We learned a lot of things in this game,” Florida State linebacker Mario Edwards Jr., whose father played defensive back for the Seminoles and two NFL teams.
“During the whole season, we would put ourselves in difficult binds and that we always fought our way out of. My dad would always say, ‘It only catches up with you when it catches up with you.
“Tonight is one of those nights where I think we let the points add up too much and we didn’t make enough turnovers on defense or enough plays on offense. What we learned is that you’ve got to start fast. Starting slow against an athletic team like Oregon and Mariota wasn’t really good for us tonight.”