Auburn's miraculous run comes to an end at the Rose Bowl
Auburn has needed last second heroics time and time again this season, and all of those times they came out on the winning side.
That streak ended in the BCS National Championship game as the Tigers fell to No. 1 Florida State 34-31 on a last second touchdown pass from Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston.
"First of all, I'm very proud of my team, and how far they've come from the very first game to getting here, and just being on the brink of winning the whole thing," said head coach Gus Malzahn following the game. "I'm very proud of them."
Auburn's defense was all over Winston in the beginning causing him to struggle. He finished the first half going 6-of-15 for 62 yards, was sacked twice and had one fumble.
"At the end of the day he's a freshman, and I think tonight we exposed that," said senior defensive end Dee Ford. "Very early I saw that he was a little hesitant."
After Auburn's first drive, which ended with Nick Marshall missing a wide-open Ricardo Louis that would have put the Tigers up by a touchdown, Winston led his Seminole offense down the field for a 35-yard field goal by Roberto Aguayo to put Florida State up 3-0.
Auburn was then able to get into a rhythm and score three unanswered touchdowns to go up 21-3.
Trailing was not something Florida State was used to.
When Tre Mason scored on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Nick Marshall with 3:07 left in the first quarter, Florida State found itself facing a deficit for the first time in more than 583 minutes of play.
The Seminoles would cut into the Auburn lead just before the half making it a 21-10 game.
Florida State would carry this momentum into the second half, and pull within one point after an 11-yard pass from Winston to Chad Abram with 10:55 left to go in the game.
Auburn would then answer with a field goal to make it 24-20, but Florida State's Kermit Whitefield would return the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to give Florida State the lead.
Giving up kickoff returns is not something characteristic for Auburn.
"Obviously we didn't cover it very well," Malzahn said. "That was a big play in the game, and that was uncharacteristic, but at the same time you've got to give them credit."
With less than five minutes to play in the game it looked like Auburn's chances of winning were slowly fading away, but with some hard running from Mason and third-down completions from Marshall the Tigers were able to regain the lead with 1:19 to go in the game after Mason scored on a 37-yard touchdown run.
Mason finished the night with 195-yards rushing, giving him the Auburn single-season rushing record, passing legendary Auburn running back Bo Jackson.
"It's a blessing to surpass his yards that he put up, but it would be great to do that while holding the crystal ball in the air," Mason said. "But that's just the way it is."
All Auburn needed to do was hold Florida State out of the end zone for 1:13, and they would be national champions.
But a 49-yard completion from Winston put the Seminoles on the Tigers 23-yard line with less than a minute to go in the game.
Winston would then go on to throw the game winning touchdown pass to Kelvin Smith with 13 seconds left on the clock, and would hold on for the win.
Even with the disappointing loss, the Tigers came back from the worst season in Auburn history in 2012 to be just second away from a national championship in 2013.
"The entire time we set a goal to have the biggest turnaround in college football history," Ford said. "It was an amazing journey for me, and I'm definitely proud to be an Auburn Tiger right now."