Bad blood and good football set the stage for the Florida State University Seminoles and the University of Florida Gators on Saturday.
The Seminoles (12-0, 8-0 ACC) remained perfect, prevailing over the Gators (6-5, 4-4 SEC) 24-19.
Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher put into perspective what their now 28 game streak has become, but knows more work needs to be done to complete the team’s ultimate goal.
“That’s something I told the guys after the game,” Fisher said. “Only team in Florida State history to go back to back undefeated regular season…I’d enjoy it more if we had two, three weeks off instead of taking on a good Georgia Tech team."
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jameis Winston struggled on the evening looking out of sorts; Winston was only 12 of 24 for 125 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.
Winston explained his poor performance in select words, focusing the blame on himself.
“It’s a new scenario every game, but there’s always room for improvement,” Winston said. “We’re going to take this good win versus Florida and look forward to the next game against Georgia Tech and hopefully I don’t turn the ball over."
The Seminoles found themselves in yet another closely contested game in their regular season finale.
Early miscues for both teams greatly impacted the flow of the game.
A trio of first quarter interceptions for Winston, brought his first half total to 13 on the season.
The number of first half misfires is particularly concerning, as it surpassed his total of only 10 interceptions last season.
Although the Noles had the turnovers, the Gators offense couldn’t capitalize on the gracious offerings; settling for three field goals and taking a 9-0 lead.
Freshman quarterback for the Gators Treon Harris, also threw a first quarter interception. His would prove to be more costly as it was returned by redshirt junior Terrance Smith 94-yards for a touchdown.
Smith’s pick six brought the score to 9-7. That play led to 21 straight points by the Noles after a pair of touchdown catches by senior tight end Nick O’Leary.
With the score sitting at the 21-9 the momentum was all on the side of the Noles, until they had a punt blocked late in the first half that set up a 15-yard Harris touchdown pass to senior tight end Clay Burton.
Heading into the half the Noles held the 21-16 lead, but were clinging onto it.
The second half lacked the scoring punch of the first as the two teams only mustered a field goal a piece.
The Gators trailed 24-19 with 3:19 remaining and started a drive at their own 22 and got to midfield.
That is where the Noles defense mad a stand on 4th and 10 to clinch the win.
Game ball goes to freshman running back Dalvin Cook of the Seminoles; who ran for 144 yards on 24 attempts.
The performance was the best of the season for Cook and redshirt senior offensive linemen Cameron Erving put it into perspective.
“It was awesome, just the work that this team puts in we weren’t surprised,” Erving said. “When it was time to run the ball we got down in the dirt and got it done.”
The Noles now travel to Charlotte to take on Georgia Tech (10-2, 6-2 ACC) in the ACC Championship game on Dec. 6.