Rose Bowl Preview Capsule
The Associated Press
Dec. 31, 2014
No. 2 FLORIDA STATE (13-0) vs. No. 3 OREGON (12-1), 5:10 p.m. Thursday (ESPN)
Line: Oregon by 9.
Series Record: First meeting.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
The first semifinal in the first College Football Playoff is also the 101st edition of the Rose Bowl, and there's a Heisman Trophy winner on each sideline at the Granddaddy of Them All. Marcus Mariota leads Pac-12 champion Oregon and its offense against Florida State and Jameis Winston, who won the national championship on this same field 360 days ago before extending their current winning streak to 29 games.
Florida State WR Rashad Greene vs. Oregon CB Troy Hill. Greene is arguably the most accomplished receiver in the Seminoles' rich history at the position, a precise route-runner with speed and senior smarts. The Ducks were eager to match him with All-American cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, but he injured his knee in practice. The job falls to the experienced Hill, who should be locked in on Greene all day.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Florida State: S Jalen Ramsey. The gifted sophomore could be the Seminoles' biggest difference-maker against Oregon's high-scoring offense. Along with his coverage and tackling skills, he has been effective lately on the blitz — which might be the only way to slow down Mariota.
Oregon: RB Royce Freeman. The Ducks' inexhaustible collection of talented tailbacks has another star in this freshman from Southern California who has been outstanding from his first game. He racked up 1,299 yards and 16 touchdowns for the Pac-12's top rushing offense, and the Rose Bowl could cement his place on the national stage.
FACTS & FIGURES
The Rose Bowl is the third meeting between two Heisman-winning quarterbacks in college football history. USC's Matt Leinart beat Oklahoma's Jason White in early 2004, and Florida's Tim Tebow beat Oklahoma's Sam Bradford in early 2009. ... Florida State's last loss was Nov. 24, 2012. The Seminoles also have won six straight bowl games, last losing in 2007. ... Mariota needs two TD passes to set the Pac-12 single-season record with 40, moving past USC's Matt Barkley and Cody Kessler. Mariota has thrown at least one TD pass in all 39 games of his career. ... Oregon's victory over Wisconsin in Pasadena three years ago was its first Rose Bowl win in 95 years. ... Florida State won its last four games by 14 total points, while Oregon won its last four games by 124 total points. ... Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher says his team hasn't been this healthy since the first day of camp.