This time it wasn’t a slow start that kept Seminoles fans guessing, but a weak finish during a cold and rainy day in Tallahassee. Boston College took FSU down to the final seconds of the game before Roberto Aguayo’s first game-winning field goal as a Seminole secured yet another victory.
Florida State is now 11-0 on the season, making it the only unbeaten Power Five team left in the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings for the second week in a row. But the Noles didn’t give the rankings committee much to work with if they were trying to prove they’re better than the number three spot they’ve been given.
After Karlos Williams capped off a 75-yard opening drive with a three-yard touchdown run, Jameis Winston and the Noles offense stalled, failing to ever run away from the Eagles. FSU never had more than a seven point lead at any point in the game, as it struggled to find a rhythm on either side of the ball.
Boston College quarterback Tyler Murphy was able to pick apart the FSU defense with the threat of his running ability. While Murphy only threw six completions for 73 yards and one touchdown, he added another score on the ground, while piling up 48 rushing yards. In total, Boston College gashed the Seminole defense for 240 yards.
Murphy, who is, incidentally, a former University of Florida quarterback, gave FSU a taste of what they will likely see against the Gators next weekend. UF’s Treon Harris is also mobile quarterback, and will give FSU trouble more as a runner than as a passer. Against its cross conference rival, FSU will have to be sharper than it was against Boston College.
For much of the game, the Noles’ play seemed sloppier than the conditions. Perhaps the rain is to blame, but Winston got little help from his receivers, who totaled 6 drops as a group, including two by leading receiver Rashad Greene.
(Greene turned out to have an historic day, however, as he broke several school records. He now has the most career receptions (254), most career yards (3,613), and most consecutive games with a reception (40) in FSU history.)
The defense also had their share of muffs, missing numerous crucial tackles and blowing coverages which allowed for big Boston College plays. Both of the Eagles’ touchdowns came on plays longer than 20 yards. In the second quarter, Murphy threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Shakim Phillips to tie the game at 10, and in the third quarter Murphy ran it in from 21 yards out to bring the Eagles even with the Noles once more.
But FSU turned the challenge into yet another situation in which they bent but did not break. While the offense has traditionally been the one to bail out either itself or the defense in the second half, this week the defense held its own, allowing the offense to get away with only three second half points.
Five of FSU’s wins have been the result of a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. At this point in the season, it has long been the norm. Winston said of the late game-winning drive against Boston College, “The majority of the games we’ve played this year have been like this game. So this isn’t anything new.”
Perhaps that is the element of the 2014 Seminole football team that opponents have no answer for. Entering the season as the reigning National Champion and as the AP No. 1 ranked team, FSU has looked shaky in almost every game this year, in comparison to their dominant season a year ago. But no matter the outlook at halftime, or with five minutes left in the game, the Seminoles manage to win.
FSU is a resilient bunch that knows how to sniff out wins in tight situations. While it has given no one reason to believe it is much better than any of the SEC leaders, it also hasn’t given any reason to think it cannot compete with them. At any rate, no one can count the Seminoles out, even when they look to be beaten.
This week, that aspect of the team is something every FSU student could appreciate, following the tragic incident that occurred in Strozier Library in the early hours of November 20. A gunman, identified as a Florida State alumnus, injured three people before police confronted and killed him.
The FSU student body responded with a great deal of unity and pride in their school, holding multiple vigils in the days after the shooting. The football game served as yet another display of communal strength, as a crowd of over 70,000 gathered to watch the football team.
While the game didn’t turn out to be as cathartic as fans may have hoped, FSU did walk away victorious, much like its students, faculty and supporters did from the event earlier in the week.
After the game Head Coach Jimbo Fisher remarked, “A game is nothing compared to what happened the other day. Our condolences go out to everyone.” He noted that athletics can have the ability to bring communities together in times they most need support.
On Saturday, FSU’s win was a testament to the Tallahassee community and to Seminoles supporters everywhere. “Hopefully, we can give a little comfort to some folks,” said Fisher.
by MATT SIMONS / sports editor