Give Jimbo Fisher, Jameis Winston and No. 2 Florida State credit: they’re making their quest for a second national championship much more entertaining than their mostly-unchallenged drive to the 2013 title.
In the same stadium where the Seminoles used every one of the Clemson Tigers’ nine lives to survive 23-17 in overtime, Florida State hung on for a dramatic 31-27 win over No. 5 Notre Dame. So dramatic, in fact, was this win that the script had been written for an Irish win for the briefest of moments. Facing a 4th-and-18 at his own 44 with just over a minute to play, Everett Golson scrambled to his right and found a wide open Corey Robinson for the improbable conversion. Then, facing a fourth-and-goal at the two inside of 20 seconds to play, Golson (who, you must remember, beat Stanford with a 4th-and-10 touchdown pass) hit a wide open Robinson for the winning touchdown.
But Notre Dame was hit with an offensive pass interference call, taking the winning points off the board and giving Notre Dame another shot at the 18. Jalen Ramsey, the same defender interfered with the play before, pressured Golson into a hurried throw, and the pass sailed through the end zone incomplete.
Florida State would survive. The win streak is now at 23.
In truth, the Seminoles worked for this win like few before it. Notre Dame led on five different occasions, outgained FSU by nearly 15o yards, achieved eight more first downs, limited the Florida State rushing attack to 50 yards, and held Winston under 275 passing yards. Florida State did not take the lead until a Karlos Williams one-yard touchdown spurt with 7:39 remaining, which also happened to be the winning score.
Golson completed 31-of-52 passes for 313 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions while rushing 11 times for 33 yards, and Tarean Folston rushed 21 times for 120 yards. Robinson hauled in eight receptions for 99 yards and two touchdowns, and William Fuller added eight grabs for 79 yards and a score.
Winston’s final stats (23-of-31, 273 yards, two touchdowns, one pick) look better on the box score than they did on the field. Florida State, playing without offensive line coach Rick Trickett after he was forced to stay home due to health concerns, struggled handling Notre Dame’s pressure throughout the night. Williams was FSU’s leading rusher at 25 yards, while Rashad Greene caught eight passes for 108 yards and a touchdown.
The win pushes Florida State to 7-0 and keeps the ‘Noles in control of their own destiny. They’ll play next at Louisville on Thursday, on Oct. 30.
For Notre Dame, this has to be an extremely bittersweet loss. On one hand, the Irish played like the better team for much of the night. They walked into the house of the defending champions and more than held their own. On the other hand, they did all that and still lost. They’ll need help to reach the College Football Playoff now, and will have to do so without an FSU win on their resume.
Notre Dame is off next week, and faces Navy at FedEx Field on Nov. 1.