Jalen Ramsey will become the 43rd first-round draft pick in Florida State history on Thursday and likely the eighth to go in the top 5. One reason is Ramsey made a lot of big plays while becoming a consensus All-American and starting for three years in the secondary.
But Ramsey also will be remembered for one play he didn’t make, which became the most important missed tackle in FSU history.
Late in the January 2014 BCS title game in the Rose Bowl – after FSU had overcome a 21-3 deficit and taken a three point lead on Kermit Whitfield’s 100-yard kickoff return with 4 ½ minutes to play – Auburn was driving for appeared would be a game-tying field goal or go-ahead touchdown.
Auburn was moving the ball on a gassed FSU defense and with 1:19 to play Tre Mason scored on a 37-yard run to give the Tigers a 31-27 lead. Mason took the handoff, skipped to the right and was met by Ramsey at the 20. Ramsey, a true freshman at the time, lowered his shoulder and bounced off Mason, who easily scored with 1:19 remaining.
What if Ramsey had wrapped up Mason and made the tackle? The Tigers were moving the ball and at the least would have send the game into overtime, but more likely would have scored anyway and left the Seminoles with much less – or possibly no – time, virtually sealing the win.
Instead, Ramsey’s missed tackle came with plenty of time for Jameis Winston to engineer the biggest drive in school history, taking FSU 80 yards and capping it with a 2-yard TD pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds to play for the championship-clinching touchdown.
A lot went into that championship and historic undefeated season. And the title game had a long list of crucial plays that gave FSU a chance to win. But Florida State may not have been hoisting that trophy if Ramsey had not missed that tackle with about 1:20 to play.