No. 3 Florida State (8-0) piled up 517 yards of offense and outscored No. 7 Miami (7-1) 20-0 in the second half to capture a 41-14 victory over the Hurricanes in a battle of top 10 teams in Tallahassee on Saturday night.
Heisman Trophy candidate Jameis Winston completed 21 of 29 passes for 325 yards and one touchdown and overcame two first-half interceptions to lead the ‘Noles to their fourth-straight win over the ‘Canes.
With the win, FSU might be equipped to leap over Oregon for the No. 2 spot in the BCS rankings that come out on Sunday, though it could be a short-lived ranking since the Ducks play Stanford on Thursday.
The two teams worked their jabs in the first half, prodding each other’s weakness with a fair bit of power running. The ‘Canes, especially, seemed content with trying to wear down the FSU defense. But the Miami defense couldn’t contain the Seminoles offense when it counted — FSU was a remarkable 11 of 15 on third downs — and FSU took a 21-14 lead into the half thanks in part to two nifty touchdowns — one running and one passing — by Devonta Freeman.
The ‘Noles showed their mettle in the second half and made sure to leave no doubt, blanking the ‘Canes the rest of the way while getting touchdown runs from James Wilder, Jr., and Freeman and two field goals from Roberto Aguayo, who remained a perfect 12 for 12 for FGs on the year. Miami had just 95 yards of offense after halftime, 275 in all.
Stephen Morris needed to have a big game for the ‘Canes to have a shot, but he was limited to 192 yards passing and two touchdowns, while getting intercepted twice. Meanwhile, the ‘Noles had their way on the ground, piling up 192 yards and four touchdowns against the tired ‘Canes defense.
In the end, FSU was a vastly superior team with vastly superior players playing in front of a rabid home crowd. There was a lot of talk before the game about this historic rivalry being ‘back’ but Miami has a ways to go before it lives up to its end of the bargain.
With multiple teams in the coach spill top 10 losing this week, there was bound to be some shaking up the rankings this week. The coaches poll still has Ohio State on top, followed by TCU, Michigan State and Baylor. Florida had the biggest jump in the rankings while Georgia had the biggest drop The coaches poll also welcomes some new additions this week.
The Florida Gators, fresh off a stomping of previous No. 3 Ole Miss (down to No. 13) moved up 11 spots in this week’s coaches poll. Florida is one of five SEC teams in this week’s coaches poll. The Big Ten has five as well. So does the Pac-12.
No. 23 Iowa, No. 24 Boise State and No. 25 Memphis make their debuts in the coaches poll this week, giving us our first glimpse on the national perception in the Group of Five race. I may have Boise State down a few pegs, but the coaches, or those who actually submit the votes, have the Broncos on top of the Group of Five pack. Memphis is right there as well, but not Toledo.
Here is this week’s coaches poll:
- Ohio State ( first place votes)
- Michigan State
- Florida State
- Texas A&M
- Ole Miss
- Notre Dame
- Oklahoma State
- Boise State
Notre Dame fell two points shy of tying a road game at Clemson Saturday night, partly because the decision to go for two-point conversion on one early fourth-quarter touchdown backfired on the Irish. Down 12 points early in the fourth quarter, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly chose to go for two-points to cut the Clemson lead to 10 points, meaning Notre Dame would need a touchdown, extra point and a field goal to tie. The two-point conversion attempt failed, and the Irish trailed by 12, 21-9.
Had the Irish gone for the easier and more likely extra point, Notre Dame would have been down 11 points. That is still a bit of an uphill battle that would require a two-point conversion later on anyway, but it also meant Notre Dame had to score two touchdowns instead of a touchdown and a field goal for a shot at tying the game. Making things worse, Notre Dame burned a timeout after the touchdown before deciding which two-point conversion play to run.
Notre Dame’s execution of a late two-point conversion with the game on the line with under 10 seconds to play also came into question as the Irish looked to give freshman quarterback DeShone Kizer the call on a run-pass option. This was stuffed by Clemson as Kizer held on to the football. Kelly, after the game, defended his quarterback’s decision to try and run for the two points.
“We had fair numbers,” Kelly said. “He’s reading it at the line of scrimmage, if the numbers were fair, they were in zone coverage. It was the right call. He made the right call.”
Sometimes a player can make the right decision and still come up short. Perhaps that is exactly what happened in the rain at Clemson Saturday night. Kizer made the best possible decision in the heat of the moment, but Clemson came out on top with solid work up front on the line of scrimmage. Of course, as it turned out late in the game, Notre Dame would have only needed an extra point to tie Clemson in the final seconds after the Tigers tacked on a field goal to set up a seven-point deficit with an Irish extra point earlier. The Irish were forced to go for two because they chased the points earlier in the quarter. Hindsight might be 20/20, but Kelly is not looking back on that decision.
Kelly is hardly the only coach to make some questionable decisions under pressure this season, or this weekend. He is, however, another example of a coach being paid millions to put his program in the best position making some questionable calls that have come back to bite him. Maybe Notre Dame would have won in overtime. The Irish certainly had the momentum in their hands. Or maybe Clemson wins anyway. Who knows?