Florida State can officially breathe a historical sigh of relief.
Southern Miss scored a touchdown on the opening drive of the 2017 Walk-On’s Independence Bowl, taking an early 6-0 lead on FSU following a missed point after attempt. That would be as good as it got for the Conference USA school as their ACC foes scored the next 33 points en route to 42-13 win.
The Seminoles came into the game 6-6 and needed a win to avoid finishing a season with a sub-.500 record for the first time since 1976. That year’s ‘Noles team finished 5-6 in Bobby Bowden‘s first season in Tallahassee. This does, though, mark the fourth time in the last dozen years that FSU has finished a season 7-6.
Freshman James Blackman played a significant role in this win, their fourth in a row, throwing a career-high four touchdown passes. That number also set the single-game Independence Bowl record.
Three of those touchdown passes went to Auden Tate, tying a single-game record for the bowl game.
There was one other personal accomplishment as Cam Akers, on a third-quarter carry, broke Dalvin Cook‘s single-season freshman rushing record of 1,007 yards. Akers now has 1,024 yards on the season after rushing for 94 in the win.
Longtime FSU defensive line coach Odell Haggins secured his second-ever career win as he served as the Seminoles’ interim head coach. It was confirmed Tuesday that Haggins will be retained by new FSU head coach Willie Taggart.
In a losing effort, Golden Eagles quarterback Kwadra Griggs accounted for a pair of touchdowns, one passing and one rushing. Ito Smith, who came into the game third in Conference USA in rushing with 1,321 yards, finished the day with 92 yards on 16 carries.
The Golden Eagles finished the year 8-5.