The Florida State Seminoles have not lost a game since November 24, 2012 against the Florida Gators. That final loss came before the arrival of two-sport star quarterback Jameis Winston. Despite his off-the-field problems leading to inconsistency on the field and a one-game suspension earlier this year, Winston has produced big numbers (3,559 yards passing, 24 touchdowns) and led the Seminoles to a second consecutive undefeated season. The Ducks are now tasked to do what no team has been able to: beat the Seminoles and end their winning streak at 29 games.
Dale Newton wrote an article for duckstopshere.com explaining why Florida State is so dangerous, besides having the Heisman-winning quarterback at the helm. The Seminoles’ leading rusher, Dalvin Cook, put up average numbers throughout the season, topping the 100-yard mark only twice. However, he turned on the jets for the home stretch and rushed for 321 yards in the last two games alone. All-American cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu will be responsible for containing Florida State’s senior wide receiver Rashad Greene, who has caught 93 passes for 1,306 yards and seven touchdowns this season.
Newton points out how Florida State, like Oregon, has only improved as the season has progressed. After beating 22nd-ranked Clemson without Winston in September, the Seminoles marched to wins over No. 5 Notre Dame and No. 25 Louisville, capping off the regular season with a shootout against No. 11 Georgia Tech.
The Ducks have done nothing but get better as the season continued as well. Royce Freeman broke out with his career first 100-yard rushing game against UCLA, which also happened to be the first of the season for any Duck. And the defense has responded to criticism by allowing only 22 points per game since the loss to Arizona — not to mention the revenge on the Wildcats in the Pac-12 Championship Game in which Oregon forced Arizona into seven consecutive three and out drives, holding them to 10 first downs and 224 total yards of offense all night.
Both these teams had to battle the critics all season. Oregon dealt with the early loss to Arizona in October and Florida State, despite being undefeated, barely made the playoffs after only receiving the No. 4 seed from the College Football Playoff Committee. Incredible physical talent aside, the Rose Bowl will be a duel between two programs that are hungry for the respect that each feels it deserves.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline