Florida State had seen this script before. Go down early against an opponent on the road. Have to rally behind their oft-maligned, yet seriously talented quarterback. Eke out a win and move on to the next week.
This time though, their quarterback was part of the problem: Seminoles signal-caller Jameis Winston threw three interceptions in a dismal start against No. 25 Louisville.
The Cardinals led 21-0 with minutes left in the first half. Running back Michael Dyer had trounced the defense and would finish with 134 yards and three touchdowns.
Perhaps, this time, Florida State had met its match.
Of course, then Famous Jameis performed the magic that has him at 21 wins and zero losses through a season and a half as starter. And as the night faded, it seemed inevitable that Florida State will be in the college football playoff by season's end.
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To get to Winston's fairy tale ending against Louisville, you have to start with his nightmarish start.
Through the first quarter, the Seminoles hadn't put up a single score. Then things got worse. Winston threw interceptions on two straight drives. The first an errant pass that resulted in a Louisville score on the other end. Then, on his first play after getting the ball back, Winston tossed it away again, and the Cardinals scored once more.
Facing a 21-0 deficit with 2:09 left in the first half, Florida State's offense finally got goosed up. The struggling quarterback threw for three straight first downs, on passes of 17, 21 and 30 yards consecutively.
Running back Karlos Williams did the rest, punching in a one-yard score on third down to give Florida State its first points. He actually fumbled on the touchdown, but the Seminoles' Nick O'Leary pounced on the ball for the touchdown.
After that, the Seminoles were ready to continue their streak of second-half comeback wins.
Winning with Winston
The Seminoles returned to the field and Winston promptly threw a pick to Gerod Holliman, who leads the NCAA with 10 interceptions already on the season. Yet the redshirt sophomore quarterback continued on the play and actually punched out the ball, forcing a fumble that Florida State recovered.
The teams switched fields without any scores.
But on the second possession of the new half, Winston suddenly saw tight end Travis Rudolph streaking wide open down the field. A few seconds and a 68-yard touchdown pass later, Florida State was back in the thick of things.
Even though the score would change a few times, it seemed inevitable after that: Louisville might win a few plays here and there, but Florida State would pull out the victory.
And they did.
Winston finished with 401 yards passing and three touchdowns despite his rough start. With a schedule that has no ranked opponents left, it looks like Florida State would have to suffer a pretty big upset to not be playing in the offseason this year.
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