Florida State vs. Miami score: No. 17 Hurricanes complete largest comeback ever over rival Seminoles
N'Kosi Perry threw four touchdowns in the biggest Miami comeback in series history
Miami remains undefeated in conference play and in the driver's seat of the ACC Coastal Division after holding off Florida State's best effort of the season and storming back from a double-digit halftime deficit in a 28-27 rivalry win. After giving up seven straight to the Seminoles, Miami now has its own two-game run in the series behind Mark Richt, following up last year's late-game heroics with 21 unanswered points to close the game after trailing by 20 in the third quarter.
"Defense, turnovers and taking advantage of it offensively," Mark Richt said to ESPN when asked how Miami was able to the turn the game in the second half. "Florida State came in here and took control of this game, and we found a way to fight back. A lot of credit goes to those guys, but somehow we gutted it out. It started with a turnover, and that beautiful turnover chain."
Miami's defensive line finally showed the edge that many expected to see throughout the game in the second half as Gerald Willis, Joe Jackson and the rest of that group started to dominate in one-on-one battles and disrupt Florida State's offensive flow. As things started to sputter for the Seminoles, redshirt freshman N'Kosi Perry got into rhythm and threw three of his four touchdown passes in the final 20 minutes of the game.
Here, now, are three things to know about the game and what it means for both teams
Richt never wavered with N'Kosi Perry: Through most of the first half half and about half of the third quarter, Miami's offense struggled mightily and Perry looked rattled. The home crowd voiced its displeasure with what appeared to be a conservative approach from a play-calling perspective, and when Perry was challenged to move the ball the down the field through the air, he often missed receivers (though, while he completed less than half of his passes, there were no turnovers). But even as Perry and the offense struggled, Richt never decided to go back to Malik Rosier at quarterback. The gameplan was set up to make things easy on the redshirt freshman, and riding with Perry allowed him to play through the mistakes and then step up with the clutch plays that helped seal the comeback win down the stretch.
Miami's defense is good enough to carry it to an ACC championship: The value of that Miami defense can never be overstated, and it got a huge boost with Jaquan Johnson back in the lineup to solidify the back end of a unit that has been outstanding up front. Johnson led all Miami defenders with 10 tackles -- seven solo -- and seemed to be in the right spot at the right time all afternoon. The Hurricanes were able to break out the turnover chain twice but it was also the third down stops along the way that won the game for the Hurricanes.
Even if it takes the rest of the season for Perry to really settle in as the starting quarterback, Richt can have confidence that his defense is strong enough to lead the way in the rest of its games. A more conservative offensive approach might be frustrating for fans who see the talent at wide receiver, but limiting mistakes is a perfectly fine way to play winning football when you've got the best defense in the ACC.
Florida State may have turned a corner, but needed this win: There is no moral victory here for Florida State. The offensive line that has struggled throughout the season ultimately takes a portion of the blame for the blown lead, as Miami's defensive line was unblockable late in the game. There is plenty good to take away from this game, like the special teams contributions of Charles Matthews and the Seminoles defense doing a good job of applying pressure on the quarterback, but this was a much-needed win not only for rivalry/morale purposes, but even on the base level of securing bowl eligibility.
Last season, it took a rescheduled ULM game to get Florida State into a bowl, and that Independence Bowl may have been a letdown from preseason expectations, but it continued a decades-long streak that is now in jeopardy in 2018. Florida State, at 3-3, still has four ranked teams -- Clemson, NC State, Notre Dame and Florida -- left on its schedule. A win here against the Hurricanes allowed for losses in all of those games and still making a bowl if they could beat Wake Forest and Boston College. Now, FSU has to beat Wake Forest, Boston College and one of those four ranked teams in order to continue its season into December.
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