Close finishes are becoming the norm at Doak Campbell Stadium and Saturday night proved no different. In a matchup of top-ranked traditional powers, the second ranked Florida State Seminoles topped the fifth ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish 31-27.
The game came down to a last-second drive by the Fighting Irish that was sniffed out by the Seminoles in impressive fashion. The Noles held firm for a four down stand to preserve the win.
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher credited his teams resiliency for the victory.
"It was a privilege to coach in that game," Fisher said. "This team understands how to win."
Seminoles redshirt sophomore quarterback Jameis Winston looked somewhat rattled throughout the game, but was able to finish strong. Winston would finish the game 23 of 31 for 273 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Winston spoke on how he prepared for the game amidst even more controversy.
"One thing people got to understand, when we've got our backs against the wall we fight harder," Winston said.
The Fighting Irish started out strong as they were able to strike first, going on a 12 play, 84-yard romp, to take a 7-0 edge. The drive was sustained by the Seminoles inability to contain the run.
However, the Noles were undeterred turning in a 4 play, 65 yard, drive to respond with a score of their own; evening the score to 7-7. The first quarter was marked by the contrast in which each team scored. The Fighting Irish sought to implement a ball-control offense and had some success. While, the Noles looked to attack and amass chunk yardage.
Both teams counter-punched to begin the second quarter; as both Winston for the Noles and senior quarterback for the Fighting Irish Everett Golson swapped interceptions, on back-to-back plays.
Senior running back Karlos Williams, who had two rushing touchdowns, including the game deciding score, understood what type of challenge Notre Dame presented.
“It was tough,” Williams said. “But when you get down there in that goal-line situation you have to put the ball in the end zone.”
The Noles defense was not able to hold the Fighting Irish off after the interception; allowing a 9-yard touchdown catch to sophomore wide receiver Corey Robinson, his second of the night. At the moment, the Irish took what looked to be a solid 14-7 lead.
Luck was not on the Irish’s side when head coach Brian Kelly decided to go for a 4th and 1 at their own 49 yard line. The Irish pitched the ball and were short by inches. This was their third fourth down attempt, and second failed attempt of the first half.
The Irish were able to get away from the decision, as the Noles drive stalled and the team had to settle for a 28-yard field goal by redshirt sophomore Roberto Aguayo.
The Fighting Irish would tack on a field goal on their drive before the half to take a 17-10 advantage into the break.
The battle of the two styles went in favor of the Irish in the first half, as they were able to win the time of possession battle by almost nine minutes. Solid pay on the ground and poor tackling from the Noles made the Irish ground attack look solid; as the Irish ripped off almost five yards per carry in the half.
Coming out energized, the Noles took the opening drive of the second half to pay dirt. The Noles masterfully put together a 9 play, 70 yard drive that was capped by a Greene touchdown.
Immediately following the Noles scoring drive, Notre Dame marched 83 yards to their own touchdown. The Irish would take the 24-17 lead on Golson’s third touchdown pass of the night.
Both defenses had issues generating key stops and that was the case on the Noles next drive. The offense used less than four minutes to get the equalizer; this time in the form of a 2-yard run from Williams.
After a Fighting Irish field goal to go up 27-24, the Noles responded with yet another quick strike drive. This time the drive was a 10 play, 75 yard trot that ended with another Williams scamper for the score, but this time from 1-yard out.
Williams score prove to be the game-clincher, as the Noles took the scenic route to the finish.
The Noles get a few extra days of rest before their next game, as they travel to Louisville to take on the Cardinals in a Thursday night matchup on October 30.