Florida State vs. Clemson score: Noles fight back for OT win handing Tigers first home ACC loss since 2016
Florida State also snapped a seven-game losing streak to its rival in the win on Saturday in Death Valley
No. 4 Florida State preserved its undefeated start to the 2023 season and snapped a seven-game losing streak to rival Clemson, storming back from a 10-point deficit in the first half for a 31-24 overtime win over the Tigers. It was the first overtime game in the series since 2014, which also happens to be the most recent Florida State win prior to Saturday's victory.
The Seminoles took the lead for the first time during the first possession of overtime when Jordan Travis connected with Keon Coleman for a 24-yard touchdown. It was on the Florida State's defense from there to come up with a stop, a unit which had given up plenty of yards throughout the afternoon but had not allowed a touchdown since late in the third quarter. When it mattered most on the day, the defense delivered.
After a first quarter that featured no points until the final two minutes, these two ACC championship hopefuls exchanged haymakers before halftime, and then again in the third quarter. Big play followed big play as both quarterbacks stepped up in big moments and the respective defenses delivered game-changing plays to help their team's efforts to win.
Travis finished with 289 yards passing and three total touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) as he led the Seminoles back into the game from a slow start and delivered the game-winning touchdown on the biggest stage. His counterpart on the other side had a strong showing as well; Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik totaled 283 passing yards and two total touchdowns in the loss.
While Klubnik mostly avoided the costly turnover that plagued him in the season-opening loss at Duke, he coughed up the ball on one of the biggest plays of the game for the Seminoles. Clemson had just gotten inside the 30-yard line while holding a one-touchdown lead in the final minute of the third quarter when Florida State got a free run at the quarterback. Kalen DeLoach cashed in with a thunderous sack that popped the ball loose before he moved quickly to gain possession and take it 56 yards the other way for a scoop-and-score, game-tying touchdown.
That would be the last score before the end of regulation, which featured its own frustrations for Clemson fans as they watched the Tigers milk the clock and set up a game-winning field goal attempt. The Tigers got the ball with 7:03 remaining in good field position at their own 44-yard line, marching all the way down to the Florida State 12-yard line to set up Jonathan Weitz with a 29-yard field goal. That kick missed left with 1:45 left to play. From that point, Florida State was energized and Clemson never regained its edge in the competition.
1. Historic performance for Jordan Travis
With the game-winning touchdown pass, Travis passed Chris Weinke as Florida State's all-time leader in total touchdowns (82). Travis tied the record earlier in the game with a 2-yard touchdown run before halftime. The fact that the record-breaker was the game-winner made the event all the more sweet for a player who has lived up to the expectations as one the top quarterbacks in the country this season.
Travis now has 10 passing touchdowns to just one interception on the season while adding two more touchdowns on the ground, but his argument for the Heisman Trophy -- among other individual awards -- is not based on statistical dominance. No, Travis best attribute is that he's the most important player on a national championship contender. Fighting through a shoulder injury suffered last week against Boston College, Travis overcame a slow start and delivered the big plays when Florida State needed them the most. As long as the Seminoles are in the national title hunt, Travis will ride the momentum of big plays like Saturday's overtime game-winner to be in the thick of the Heisman Trophy discussion.
2. Clemson facing unprecedented lows
Clemson is now 0-2 in ACC play for the first time since 2010, which was the last season before Dabo Swinney shook up his coaching staff and began the program's climb to the top of college football. The Tigers won the ACC in 2011, the program's first conference title in 20 years, won double-digit games from 2012-14 and then reached the College Football Playoff every single season from 2015-20 with two national championships and two runner-up finishes. While the double-digit win seasons continued, the recent drop-off from the top of the sport has been evident in the streaks that have ended. More of those fell on Saturday.
Not only does the defeat snap a seven-game winning streak against Florida State, it's also the end of a 25-game home winning streak against ACC opponents. If you look at very recent history, the Tigers are 3-5 in their last eight games against Power Five competition. With two losses already in conference play and plenty of tough competition left on the schedule, competing for a spot in the ACC Championship Game, and likely a second shot at Florida State, is going to be an uphill battle that requires some help. The streak of 12 straight seasons with double-digit wins will now require either no more regular season or losses or only one more defeat and a bowl win.
3. Failures at margins flipped the game in FSU's favor
Clemson outgained Florida State by more than 100 yards (429-311), had nine more first downs (25-19) and a better third-down conversion percentage. But, especially against high-level competition like Florida State, the emphasis from coaches often comes down to the details and that's where a few spots will stand out when Clemson reviews how close it was to a top-five win that would've returned the Tigers to the ACC title race. Dabo Swinney told ESPN heading into the locker room he was disappointed with how the defense allowed Florida State to march 75 yards down the field in less than two minutes to score a touchdown right before halftime. He noted that the Tigers needed to dial up more pressure on a play-making quarterback like Travis.
The defense, outside of that drive, was mostly spectacular and forced five consecutive stops (four punts, one turnover on downs) to close out regulation. But, in a game this tight, any shortcomings are magnified. Even forcing a field goal before halftime could have been the difference.
Similarly, the offense will bear some responsibility for the way things went at the end of regulation and during overtime. The plan to run the ball, burn clock and set up a game-winning field goal seemed to be working as planned, but even a slightly more aggressive approach could have resulted in a score that ended the game without the need for overtime. The offense also looked disjointed in overtime, including Klubnik opting to throw the ball wide to the flat for a result of zero yards on third-and-1. Throw in missing a block on the free rusher DeLoach when Florida State had its 56-yard game-tying scoop-and-score, and it's easy to see how Clemson will identify a few places where this game -- which was still tied at the end of 60 minutes -- might have slipped away.
Florida State strikes first in OT leads for the first time
OT: Florida State 31, Clemson 24
A 24-yard strike from Jordan Travis to Keon Coleman gives Florida State its first lead of the game, and now the defense has a chance to snap Clemson's winning streak in the series on this next possession. Travis now has 298 yards on 21-for-37 passing with three total touchdowns, and Coleman has five catches for 86 yards and two scores.
Scoop and score flips the game for the Seminoles
3Q: Florida State 24, Clemson 24
Just after Phil Mafah had ripped off a 46-yard run to set up Clemson inside the FSU 30-yard line, Cade Klubnik gets absolutely rocked on a blitz and fumbles the ball into the hands of Kalen DeLoach, who runs it 56 yards the other way for a game-tying touchdown. Just as Clemson seemed like it was about issue a final blow to Florida State, one play has totally reversed the momentum in this game.
Clemson re-takes the lead
3Q: Clemson 24, Florida State 17
Will Shipley scores his second touchdown of the day but first rushing touchdown of the season, powering across the goal line after Cade Klubnik guided the offense 77 yards down the field in 11 plays over nearly five minutes of game time. Klubnik appeared in total command of the offense, completing 4-of-5 passes on the drive and scrambling for 17 yards to pick up a first down in Florida State territory. Now the onus is on Jordan Travis to answer, as Florida State's defense has forced just one Clemson punt since the opening drive of the game.
Florida State ties it on the opening drive
3Q: Florida State 17, Clemson 17
The good news is Florida State has tied the game on the opening drive, fully eliminating the 10-0 deficit that Clemson built in the first half. But disappointing part is that Jordan Travis had just converted a 4th down deep in Clemson territory but the play was called back for illegal formation. So while FSU has gotten the game back to level, it was a drive that was looking destined for the end zone and a go-ahead score.
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