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Winston comes through in clutch for FSU

Jameis Winston was nearly flawless on the final drive, hitting six of his seven throws, including the winning touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin.

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Jameis Winston was nearly flawless on the final drive, hitting six of his seven throws, including the winning touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin.

PASADENA, Calif. — Florida State coaches have long called QB Jameis Winston a game-day star but an inconsistent player in practice.

Monday night's winning drive made their point clear.

Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said he kicked Winston off the field during a two-minute drill in the Seminoles' final practice before leaving for California because Winston's mind-set wasn't right.

"I just saw it drifting," Fisher said Tuesday morning.

The focus returned Monday night when it mattered.

Before the final drive, Winston was 14-of-28 passing for 157 yards and four sacks. He had as many fumbles (one) as touchdown passes.

But the Heisman Trophy winner and game MVP was nearly flawless on the final drive, hitting 6 of 7 throws. He drove the 'Noles 80 yards in 1:02, into the end zone of Vince Young's legendary score for Texas, and threw the winning touchdown over Iron Bowl hero Chris Davis with 13 seconds left.

"To me, it was a tremendous growing point for him," Fisher said, "and I think it's the best football game he's played all year."

PRO PROSPECTS: Fisher said FSU could lose two or three underclassmen to the NFL draft, and he plans to sit down with a few players to talk about their goals in the coming days.

Plant High product James Wilder reportedly will turn pro, according to espn.com. The junior RB had 81 carries for 563 yards and eight TDs this season.

Kelvin Benjamin, a draft-eligible redshirt sophomore, said after the game that he didn't think it was his last at FSU. RB Devonta Freeman wasn't sure but hinted that he could bolt for the NFL.

"I accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish here," Freeman said, "and I want to continue to do more."

As a redshirt freshman, Winston isn't able to turn pro in football or baseball yet, and Fisher said it's not a given that Winston will leave school next year, when he's eligible for both drafts.

"We don't necessarily know he's going to the NFL, do we?" Fisher said. "Don't assume now."

STATISTICAL MILESTONES: FSU's third national championship also put a few Seminoles into the record books.

FSU had a I-A record 723 points, seven more than Oklahoma in 2008.

Freeman rushed 11 times for 73 yards, giving him 1,016 yards on the season and making him FSU's first 1,000-yard rusher since Warrick Dunn in 1996.

WRs Rashad Greene (1,128 yards) and Benjamin (1,011) became FSU's first 1,000-yard receivers since Anquan Boldin in 2002.

FSU became the third I-A team to have a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and two 1,000-yard receivers.

Roberto Aguayo set a I-A single-season record by a kicker with 157 points.

THIS AND THAT: FSU's victory boosted Fisher's bonuses to $550,000 on top of his $2.75 million salary. … Fisher said he pulled a hamstring running down the sideline to argue for an Auburn penalty after Greene's 49-yard catch on the final drive. … LB Telvin Smith set a career high with 15 tackles. … The 'Noles set a school record with 26 interceptions this season. … DB Terrence Brooks said he was too nervous to watch FSU's final drive; he kept his head in his hands and waited for the roar of the crowd. "I was just praying," Brooks said. … Freeman on ending the SEC's streak of seven titles: "SEC what? It ain't nothing."

Winston comes through in clutch for FSU 01/07/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 9:14pm]

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