PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — For all Jameis Winston had done as a redshirt freshman for Florida State, he never had to pull the Seminoles from the brink of defeat.
In the biggest game of the year, down by four with 79 seconds left, the Heisman Trophy winner put together the drive of his life, and the Seminoles proved they could take a punch to win a championship.
Winston threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds left and No. 1 Florida State beat No. 2 Auburn 34-31 to win the BCS national title game on Monday night.
"There's a lot of heart and guts down in Tallahassee, too," coach Jimbo Fisher said.
The Bowl Championship Series went out with a bang, with one of the best title games in its 16-year history. It will be replaced by a four-team playoff next season. And the Southeastern Conference's seven-year winning streak in college football's biggest game was snapped by the Atlantic Coast Conference school that played in the first three BCS title games but hadn't been back since.
Florida State was voted a unanimous No. 1 in the final AP Top 25. Auburn finished second.
Winston struggled much of the night but was near perfect when the Seminoles (14-0) needed it most, going 6 for 7 for 77 yards on the game-winning 80-yard drive.
"It was the best football game he's played all year," Fisher said, "and I'll tell you why, because for three quarters he was up and down and he fought.
"And to pull it out in the atmosphere and environment and with what was on the line tonight, to me if that's not a great player, I don't know who is."
Winston was 20 for 35 for 237 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdown passes. He zipped the Seminoles down the field on the final drive, with a 49-yard catch and run from Rashad Green.
Florida State also got help from Auburn, too. A pass interference penalty on Chris Davis on third-and-8 from the 10 gave Florida State a first down at the 2.
"Thought it was great defense. That's all I can say," Davis said, adding, the officials "should have just let us play."
On the next play Winston flipped high to the 6-foot-5 Benjamin for the touchdown.
"Once the ball is in the air on that post route, I've got to go get it, and I did," Benjamin said. "Simple as that."
There was no miracle finish this time for the turnaround Tigers, who went from 3-9 to SEC champions in their first season under coach Gus Malzahn. They tossed the ball around on one final play, but it ended with Florida State jumping on a fumble, and the Seminoles sprinting onto the field under a storm of garnet and gold confetti.
Florida State scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, and the teams combined for 24 in a breathtaking last 4:42.