|Richard Mackson / USA Today Sports|
|Florida State QB Jameis Winston capped his historic freshman season with a national championship Monday night.|
College Football 24/7 will be providing live in-game updates and analysis throughout tonight's BCS championship game between Florida State and Auburn.
Seminoles win BCS championship
9:06 p.m. PT: Auburn's final attempt at a miracle falls short. Florida State wins the BCS championship game, 34-31.
Baby Megatron scores
8:59 p.m. PT: Kelvin Benjamin's fourth catch of the night was his biggest, a 2-yard TD reception that put Florida State ahead 34-31 with 13 seconds left.
NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah called it.
Benjamin has to get a shot at a jump ball at least onceâ Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 7, 2014
It was a huge drive for Jameis Winston, who completed 6 of his 7 pass attempts for 77 yards and the touchdown.
The question now is, does Auburn have one last miracle left?
8:49 p.m. PT: Team of destiny? Mason ripped off a 37-yard touchdown with 1:19 remaining, giving Auburn a 31-27 lead.
Florida State has two time outs remaining. Does Winston have one defining moment in him?
Whitfield to the rescue
8:38 p.m. PT: Who needs Winston? Levonte "Kermit" Whitfield, a true freshman who was in Los Angeles this time last year for a high school all-star game, just broke a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to give Florida State a 27-24 lead with 4:31 left to play.
Tigers held to field goal
8:36 p.m. PT: Auburn ran the ball successfully nine straight times with Marshall and Mason, gashing the middle of the Florida State defense after an exhausted Tim Jernigan went to the sideline. But a failed third-down pass by Marshall forced the Tigers to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Cody Parker and a 24-20 lead with 4:42 left in the fourth quarter.
Winston has his chance to deliver a championship-winning drive.
Winston brings FSU within one
8:26 p.m. PT: It took Winston a while to get settled in, but the Heisman Trophy winner turns the takeaway into seven points on a check down to Chad Abram for an 11-yard touchdown.
Winston was 3-for-3 on the drive for 40 yards, one-quarter of his production on the night.
However, a personal foul after the score by running back Devonta Freeman kept the Seminoles from attempting a two-point conversion to try and tie the game.
FSU secondary makes a play
8:19 p.m. PT: It took a while, but the Florida State secondary finally made a play. P.J. Williams made a leaping interception of a haphazard Nick Marshall throw for the first Auburn turnover of the game. Winston and the Seminoles offense now has field position on their side after being backed up for most of the night.
Ford a force tonight
8:08 p.m. PT: Just when it felt like Florida State had finally captured the momentum, Ford and the Auburn defensive line came though with another big series, picking up their fourth sack to force a punt.
Ford (6-2, 240) could be labeled a tweener without a position at the next level -- too small to play defensive end, not athletic enough to be a 3-4 outside linebacker -- but his performance tonight could erase some of those concerns.
Winston misses his man
7:57 p.m. PT: Winston is using his legs to escape pressure, but it might be at the expense of the bigger gains in the passing game. Daniel Jeremiah noted that the redshirt freshman had an open receiver in the middle of the field on third down, but instead took off for a short gain.
Winston had a wide open target in the middle of the field on that scramble.â Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 7, 2014
Benjamin gets on the board
7:52 p.m. PT: It took nearly 30 minutes of game action, but Kelvin Benjamin finally got a reception for Florida State and added another later in the drive, which ended with a Seminoles field goal to cut the score to 21-13. At 6-5 and 234, Benjamin is probably the most impressive specimen on the 'Noles' roster and is expected to declare for the draft before the Jan. 15 deadline.
With Florida State going to a more quickly developing passing game to take pressure off its beleaguered offensive line, don't be shocked if Benjamin uses a double-move sooner than later in hopes of hitting the long ball.
FSU's Edwards making impact
7:39 p.m. PT: Florida State and Auburn trade punts to open the third quarter, but the Tigers flipped the field position.
Seminoles DE Mario Edwards drew a holding penalty against Auburn standout left tackle Greg Robinson on third down, continuing to make his presence felt. Edwards (6-3, 277) usually gets overshadowed by defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan but is acquitting himself well on the biggest stage.
Marshall, Mason pace Auburn in first half
7:12 p.m. PT: If you're ranking the best players on the field in the first half, you go through a lot of Tigers before coming across a Seminole.
Marshall is 7-of-13 passing for 113 yards and two touchdowns, adding 26 rushing yards and another touchdown. Mason has 96 rushing yards on 18 carries behind a bruising offensive line.
Defensive end Mario Edwards has been one of the few bright spots for Florida State with two tackles for loss and one sack. But with Auburn holding the ball for 16:50 and converting 8-of-12 third downs in the first half, Edwards and co. are in danger of being worn down.
FSU scores its first TD
7:04 p.m. PT: Devonta Freeman scores on a 3-yard run, giving Florida State a glimmer of hope. Winston finally got on track, ripping off runs of 7 and 21 yards after Karlos Williams converted a fourth down fake punt.
The Seminoles will have to figure out a way to shore up their offensive line, which is getting absolutely whipped at the point of attack.
As Daniel Jeremiah pointed out, most of Auburn's mistakes have been self-inflicted. Florida State should feel lucky to be only be trailing 21-10 at the half.
This could be worseâ¦Auburn missed long TD pass on 1st series and also missed a FGâ Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 7, 2014
Tigers' tempo hurting Noles
6:50 p.m. PT: Auburn had a chance to deliver an early knockout blow, but a false start penalty, miscommunication between Marshall and wide receiver Sammie Coates and missed 33-yard field goal by Cody Parker means the score remains 14-3.
The Tigers finally turned on the jets with their tempo, wearing out the Florida State defense and giving Mason some opportunities to show off his vision. The star runner is now up to 78 yards on 13 carries.
With Winston losing a fumble on the subsequent possession, the 'Noles' defense was on the ropes, and Auburn capitalized, with Nick Marshall scoring on a 4-yard run to put Auburn up, 21-3.
All of a sudden, @FootballAU picking up 5+ yards a clip on the ground. The power and pace of the uptempo running game is wearing FSU outâ Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks) January 7, 2014
Auburn WRs dominating FSU corners
6:27 p.m. PT: Florida State's secondary against the Auburn wide receivers has proved to be the enormous mismatch everyone expected. Unfortunately for the Seminoles, they are getting absolultely worked over in a huge surprise.
Melvin Ray was untouched on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Marshall, as the defensive backs and linebackers were sucked in by a jet sweep motion. That eye candy is what makes head coach Gus Malzahn's offense so difficult to defend, creating confusion.
Marshall, now 6-of-9 passing for 103 yards and two touchdowns, is thoroughly outplaying the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
FSU looked so much faster than every team they've played this year. Auburn is matching that speedâ Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 7, 2014
First quarter belongs to Auburn's D-line
6:16 p.m. PT: Auburn's defensive line controlled the first quarter, sacking Winston twice. The much-maligned back seven did its part too, making several tackles in the open field.
Defensive end Dee Ford has had his way with right tackle Bobby Hart, so Florida State might have to start offering some help on that side.
Winston also needs to get into a rhythm, connecting on just 4 of 8 passes for 43 yards.
One of the few times, I've seen opponents challenge FSU's WRs. Forcing Winston to make contested throws. Disrupting rhythm/timing/accuracyâ Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks) January 7, 2014
Auburn 7, Florida State 3
6:09 p.m. PT: Auburn is coming out throwing and it is working. Marshall finds Mason on a screen pass for a 12-yard touchdown, meaning Florida State trails for the first time since Sept. 28.
The key plays came from the Tigers' special teams, as Steven Clark's punt at the end of the previous possession was downed at 1. Chris Davis then had a 22-yard punt return to get the ball into Seminoles' territory after an Auburn defensive stop.
The Florida State defensive line is holding up its end of the bargain, but the back seven has been surprisingly sloppy in the early going. They seem shocked Auburn is willing to put the ball up. If Joyner, Ramsey and the secondary doesn't get its act together, Auburn is more than ready to capitalize.
This @FootballAU offense features so much deception that it wears out a defenders from a mental standpoint. Constant shifts & motions.â Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks) January 7, 2014
Marshall under pressure
5:55 p.m. PT: Marshall has picked up where Michigan State QB Connor Cook left off in the first quarter of last week's Rose Bowl, alternating between great plays and awful one. Marshall gets hit with an intentional grounding penalty after facing big pressure, then follows it up with a 26-yard toss to freshman receiver Marcus Davis.
Auburn is going to need more good than bad from Marshall, as Florida State is determined to bring the heat early on and make the junior-college transfer win with his arm.
Noles get on the board first
5:46 p.m. PT: A 35-yard field goal by Roberto Aguayo gives Florida State a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter. The Auburn defense lived up to its reputation of giving up yards between the 20s, but held tough in the red zone, getting pressure on Jameis Winston on third down.
Winston did find Rashad Greene on two passes for 44 yards, including a 29-yard strike on third-and-16. Tight end Nick O'Leary did a nice job of picking up a Tigers stunt to give Winston time to make that throw.
FSU catches break on opening drive
5:38 p.m. PT: Florida State got incredibly lucky in stopping Auburn's first drive, as Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall short-arms a throw to Ricardo Louis on 3rd-and-7.
As Daniel Jeremiah pointed out, Auburn started out with its bread and butter, running Tre Mason behind left tackle Greg Robinson.
Auburn running right behind LT Greg Robinson on the 1st 3 plays. He's the best run blocker in the country. FSU loading up the box earlyâ Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 7, 2014
Legendary national anthem
5:29 p.m. PT: And after a rousing rendition of the national anthem by John Legend, we're just about ready to get this game started.
FSU's Ramsey one to follow tonight
5:06 p.m. PT: Having spent the last week driving down to the media hotel in Newport Beach, Calif. for press conferences, I can vouch for the athleticism of these two teams up close. My colleagues Chase Goodbread and Mike Huguenin went through the top draft prospects for the Seminoles and Tigers, but one player that really impressed me was Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey.
Ramsey (6-1, 195) has started every game as a true freshman, playing both safety and corner while racking up 44 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
The versatility of Ramsey and senior LaMarcus Joyner will be key in allowing Florida State to dedicate an extra defender to the run. Auburn looks to be a little more stout up front, and those speedy but undersized Florida State linebackers will need all the help they can get.
Mastery versus miracles
4:33 p.m. PT: That is what the 2014 BCS national championship game between No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Auburn at the Rose Bowl comes down to. The Seminoles have dominated every opponent this season, winning every game by at least two touchdowns behind freshman sensation quarterback Jameis Winston. The Tigers needed two unbelievable finishes that cemented one of the great turnarounds in college football history.
NFL Media analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks are on the scene to analyze the game through the scout's eye, while I will be keeping track of all the big plays and performances.
The BCS goes away after this game -- replaced by a four-team playoff -- so settle in for what should be a fabulous way to say good bye.
Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.