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Jameis Winston Comes Through When It Matters Most For Nole

Jameis Winston Comes Through When It Matters Most For Nole

PASADENA, Calif. — For 58 minutes and 41 seconds Jameis Winston was being dissected. Not just by the Auburn defense, but by amateur and professional QB gurus all over the country as they watched a potentially huge upset unfolding on a grand stage.

The 6-5, 230-pound Heisman winner looked rusty and sluggish and confused, and his throwing motion now just seemed too much of a windup and slow. And then, Winston trotted out onto the field with his team down 31-27, the ball spotted on the Noles’ 20-yard line and the Rose Bowl crowd on its feet.

Winston, the redshirt freshman of the unbeaten Noles who had blown out all 13 of their previous opponents, had a simple message to his teammates before the first play of the biggest drive of his life: “This is what we came here for.”

“I was ready,” Winston said. “I wanted to be in that situation because that’s what great players do. That’s what great quarterbacks do. “That’s what the Tom Bradys, Peyton Mannings, Drew Brees, that’s what they do. Any quarterback can go out there and perform when they’re up 5-0 in the second quarter. That’s what you’re judged by, especially by your teammates. I’m pretty sure I got more respect from my teammates and the people around me on that last drive than I got the whole year.”

He’s probably right. For the past week, Winston had displayed an uncanny knack for being so at ease in front of the bright lights on a big media stage with dozens of mics and cameras crowding him. The QB from Alabama, a budding star for the Noles baseball team, looked almost as comfy late Monday night after the Tigers took the lead on Tre Mason’s 37-yard TD run, punctuated by the Auburn star breaking into two Heisman Trophy poses for the cameras as he made his way to greet his exuberant teammates.

“[Jameis] showed his heart on that last drive,” Greene said. “I never had a doubt [we were going to win that game]. Honest to God.”

Winston’s numbers on the day were unspectacular by his standards: 20 of 35, 237 yards, two TDs, one fumble, four sacks. But on the money drive with those 79 seconds left, he was 6 of 7 for 80 yards and the biggest TD pass the Noles have had in over a decade. Maybe ever, considering this gave FSU the last national title in BCS history and finally ended the SEC’s dominant run of seven national titles in a row.

“It’s the best football game he has played all year, and I’ll tell you why, because for three quarters he was up and down and he fought,” coach Jimbo Fisher said. “And, just like any great player, some nights you don’t have it.


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