TAMPA —It’s been almost six full years since Jameis Winston led his Seminoles to a 34-31 comeback win over Auburn in the final BCS national championship, and Tigers coach Gus Malzahn still thinks about that game. A lot.
“I think about Florida State about once a week,” Malzahn said recently during an Outback Bowl event.
There’s a lot for him to think about. His Tigers went up 21-3 on FSU with five minutes left in the first half before the Seminoles began to chip away.
There was Karlos Williams’ fake punt to keep the drive alive and steal a touchdown just before halftime. And a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Kermit Whitfield that gave the ’Noles their first lead with less than five minutes remaining. And the deciding moment — Winston’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds remaining.
Malzahn said he doesn’t think winning that game in the Rose Bowl would have changed his life.
“I think I’d be the same person,” Malzahn said.
He’d still be coaching the No. 9 Tigers against No. 16 Minnesota on Jan. 1 at Raymond James Stadium. Maybe he’d have better job security at Auburn, where he always seems to be a short losing streak away from getting fired. But given the school’s crazy history, probably not.
Regardless, Malzahn thinks about that night at the Rose Bowl often, just as he remembers one of his double-overtime losses from his high school days.
“I think that’s what motivates you,” Malzahn said. “Our goal is to get back and do it again.”