Auburn leads Florida State 21-10 at halftime
Pasadena, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Nick Marshall passed for two touchdowns and ran for another and No. 2 Auburn led No. 1 Florida State 21-10 at halftime of the BCS National Championship Game.
Marshall threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to running back Tre Mason in the first quarter, a 50-yarder to Melvin Ray in the second quarter and ran for a 4-yard score after Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston fumbled.
Florida State's No. 1-ranked defense -- including the nation's best passing unit -- was on its heels after giving up just 10.7 points per game entering Monday's game at the Rose Bowl.
Winston, 23 days after winning college football's biggest individual award, and the Seminoles offense were sparked by a fake punt for a first down that led to Devonta Freeman's 3-yard touchdown run.
Winston was 6-of-15 for 62 yards on his 20th birthday. Marshall completed 7- of-13 passes for 113 yards.
Mason, the Heisman finalist, rushed for 96 yards on 18 carries and Freeman had six carries for 46 yards.
Special teams gave Auburn good field position for its first touchdown. After Steven Clark pinned Florida State inside the 1-yard line with a 38-yard punt, the Seminoles went three-and-out and Iron Bowl hero Chris Davis returned the ensuing punt 22 yards.
Mason caught a screen pass on the left side and slipped past a would-be tackler near the 5-yard line for a 12-yard touchdown and 7-3 Auburn lead with 3:07 left in the first quarter.
Florida State, after gaining at least 15 yards on three plays during its first drive to set up Roberto Aguayo's 35-yard field goal, was forced to punt three possessions in a row after that, despite getting one reprieve when Auburn ran into the punter.
The Seminoles didn't look like the No. 1 pass defense in the country on Ray's 50-yard touchdown, leaving him all alone in the secondary. The wideout caught the ball around the 32-yard line and needed to make just one cut near the 5 to juke Jalen Ramsey and give Auburn a 14-3 lead 1:12 into the second quarter.
Auburn's Cody Parkey missed a 33-yard field goal try wide right later in the quarter but the Tigers got the ball right back at the FSU 27 after Angelo Blackson stripped Winston on second down.
Marshall scored on a run around the left side to make it 21-3.
On an Auburn 4th-and-4, Karlos Williams picked up seven yards on a fake punt end-around and Freeman scored with 88 seconds remaining in the half to pull the Seminoles within 11.
Auburn (12-1) beat Oregon in its only other BCS title game appearance three years ago.
The SEC-champion Tigers recorded the biggest turnaround in the country this season -- and biggest in conference history -- after going 3-9 last season.
Two miracle plays got them to the title game.
Marshall's 73-yard touchdown to Ricardo Louis on a tipped pass led the Tigers over Georgia on Nov. 16. And two weeks later, Davis' last-second missed field goal return from the back of the end zone shocked then-No. 1 Alabama.
The top-ranked Seminoles (13-0) are chasing their second BCS title and first since the 1999 season, the only time in program history they went unbeaten.
The two-time reigning ACC champs are trying to become the first team outside the SEC to beat a team from that conference in the BCS title game.
The SEC has won seven straight titles and is 9-1 in the BCS title game.
This is the last season of the Bowl Championship Series. The four-team College Football Playoff starts next season.
01/06 22:25:46 ET