If you got the chance to watch this year’s Rose Bowl down in Pasadena between the Oregon Ducks and Florida State Seminoles, you would’ve thought (like I did) that it was going to be a pretty good game. Coming into the contest, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota were prepared to go head-to-head in only the third meeting between holders of the previous two Heisman trophies; and it didn’t disappoint — at least for the first two quarters of play.
Going into halftime, Oregon held a slim five-point lead in a 18-13 tally that could have been 18-16 if Seminoles kicker Roberto Aguayo had knocked in a 54-yard attempt.
But that — like the Seminoles chances of making the championship game in Dallas, Texas — dinged right off the goal post.
Reigning Heisman Trophy winner and Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota took over in the second half. Although Florida State received the kickoff to start the third quarter, a stout defense that causes nothing but turnovers (combined with their lethal offensive efficiency) is among the obvious reasons for Oregon’s sudden success against one of the best teams in the country.
The Ducks went on to win 59-20 in Pasadena.
Here are three more reasons why Jameis and company failed to take down the Ducks:
1. JAMEIS IS TOO FAMOUS
We’ve all heard before from someone senior in our lives that it can be dangerous to let popularity and peer pressure get to us because it will eventually make us crack even though at first it can come off as strength. Jameis Winston of Florida State is living proof.
Coming into the 2015 Rose Bowl, which was also the first of two semifinal games in the Inaugural College Football Playoff, Winston was undefeated. Last season there weren’t really too many scares for the Seminoles as they dominated most of their competition en route to a National Championship on the back of then-Freshman Winston.
But oh how the tides have changed.
Throughout 2014, Jameis Winston and the Seminoles offense struggled against teams that should’ve been write-offs. The Oklahoma State Cowboys, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and even the Miami (FL) Hurricanes posed huge threats to the defending champs, their star quarterback, and a perfect record. It took late heroics in each of those games by Jameis Winston to keep Florida State even remotely relevant in the eyes of the College Football Playoff Committe–but at some point the luck just runs out.
Incredibly high expectations of trying to repeat as a stellar athlete and national champion in college football on the biggest stage for college athletes is something that is often even too difficult for even the toughest–mentally, physically, or otherwise–and it’s the slippery slope of being in the limelight too long that can have a dragging effect on even the best players and their performance.
Let’s just hope the spotlight isn’t too bright for “Famous Jameis” if he gets the chance to start in the NFL.
2. THE JOHNNY FOOTBALL SYNDROME
Just recently, newcomer to professional football Johnny Manziel (AKA Johnny Football) said to the press that as one of the Cleveland Browns’ options for quarterback, he needs to take his job more seriously and approach with professionalism instead of what he called a “college mindset.”
Jameis Winston finds himself stuck in that very same situation.
The big win that sent Johnny Football’s fame to the ceiling was an unprecedented victory against the then-top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa by way of Manziel’s Texas A&M Aggies. Even though the Manziel mania wasn’t enough to push the Aggies into the National Championship picture, the fame went to his head quickly.
And Winston may very well be on the same path.
Depending on where Jameis Winston ends up in the NFL, now that teams that teams can factor in a monumental blowout loss on national television into their respective drafting decision, Winston can only hope he won’t have to start his career as a backup after such an electrifying stay in college football.
But maybe the best is yet to come?
3. SWEET VICTORY
Enough about Jameis and the Seminoles, let’s move on to the Ducks, winners of the Rose Bowl and what their team needs to repeat in the National Championship Game if they really want the taste of sweet victory in Dallas, Texas.
Having to go up against the Buckeyes of Ohio State or the Crimson Tide of Alabama, the Ducks are going to have their hands full on Jan. 12 come game time.
One of the biggest things that was easily noticeable in how Oregon played Florida State in such dominating fashion was the goal line defense. The Seminoles were within three yards and had four chances to try and get in but were denied a touchdown by the Oregon defense.
Nothing was working for the Seminoles so much so that they became dependent on a fourth down desperation dive from Jamies Winston that fell six inches short of scoring–oh yeah, and that was just in the first half.
In the third quarter, Oregon exploded for 27 points, en route to 34 unanswered, that resulted in the destruction that unfolded before ESPN’s national audience.
The second key to Oregon victory was their offensive tempo. Mariota & Co. were able to reel off plays every 16 seconds (on average). You could clearly see just from watching the game at home that such a quick pace not only confused Florida State but completely depleted their energy.
Watch for these big things to take the field in Dallas, because there’s nothing Marcus Mariota could want more (especially with it now tangible and in his sights) than a National Championship before going pro.
Let the games begin!