BILL PLASCHKE

A perfectly flawed BCS system gets a near-perfect ending at Rose Bowl

Said Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn: "Obviously, we didn't cover it very well."

Said Florida State's Edwards Jr.: "I swear, that kid is the fastest player I've ever seen."

Auburn took the ensuing kickoff, lost a yard on the first two plays, and the Florida State celebration was about to ... not so fast.

Nick Marshall, the Tigers' unsung quarterback who outplayed Winston, hit Sammie Coates on a 15-yard pass that started a drive that ended when Tre Mason literally ran over the Seminoles' Jalen Ramsey for a 37-yard touchdown to give Auburn another lead.

It was surely one of the greatest plays, and drives, in Auburn history, yet afterward, both Coates and Mason were too devastated to even talk about it.

It was that kind of game.

Said Coates: "This was a heartbreaker."

Said Mason: "I apologize to the Auburn family and the rest of the fans that we didn't finish."

They didn't finish because, resoundingly, finally, heavily favored Florida State and Winston did. With 1:11 remaining in the game and the Seminoles on their 20-yard line, the Heisman guy finally started playing with some stiff-armed purpose, completing five of six passes and leading his team to the 10-yard line.

This is where the game got even crazier, when Auburn's Davis was properly called for pass interference on Rashad Greene, but who can blame him? With the season in the balance, he was hanging on Greene for dear life.

Moments later, Winston found Benjamin for the game-winning score on a high pass that the leaping Benjamin pulled down above Davis, that hero of that field-goal attempt return against Alabama ending this game on his back.

"I knew it was going to be a touchdown as soon as I stepped up to the line of scrimmage," said Winston. "Any time you see KB one on one, it's a dream come true, the way that guy plays, the way he wanted it."

Winston said Benjamin wept with passion before the game — "KB actually got emotional … and cried … he kept telling people thank you for believing in me."

In the end, as Florida State players made snow angels in the end zone confetti while Auburn players stumbled away with their hands on their helmets, it was if the 16-year-old BCS championship game was also offering a sort of thanks to America's football fans..

Thanks for putting up with the crazy system and its sometimes confounding title matchups. Enjoy your parting gift.

bill.plaschke@latimes.com

Twitter: @billplaschke

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