LSU vs. Florida State score, takeaways: Walk-off blocked extra point saves Seminoles from Tigers' late surge
LSU appeared set for an epic comeback only for special teams to cost it with no time remaining
Despite a roaring comeback taking advantage of multiple Florida State miscues, it was LSU that made the final mistake on Sunday night in a 24-23 victory by the Seminoles at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans. Trailing 24-10 in the fourth quarter, the Tigers scored the final 13 points of the game, but a blocked extra point with no time remaining cost them a would-be comeback opportunity in overtime.
LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels hit Jaray Jenkins for a 2-yard touchdown with 1 second remaining to score what was seemingly the game-tying score to end a 99-yard drive begun by a FSU goal-line fumble. But Damian Ramos' extra point was blocked by Shyheim Brown with no time left on the clock to give the 'Noles the win.
The only reason LSU had the chance to tie it late was because Brian Thomas Jr. was initially ruled out of bounds with a second left at the 1-yard line. Replay showed that he was in bounds, but LSU snapped the ball on the whistle to get the final play off in regulation.
It was a wild ending to a stellar drive that probably should have never happened. LSU had a chance to tie it late because of a rare mistake by the 'Noles rushing attack. Treshaun Ward fumbled an ill-advised pitch on the goal line to give it back to LSU with 1:20 to play. That was the only reason Daniels even had an opportunity to lead his team down the field for what appeared to be the touchdown that would have sent the game to overtime.
It was a remarkable turn of events because it appeared that Florida State had the game won when LSU's Malik Nabers muffed a punt on the 8-yard line with 2:05 left. Ward had two carries for 8 yards to get to the doorstep and force LSU to burn their first timeout. The fumble occurred on the first play coming out of the timeout.
The dramatic fourth quarter was the story of the night, but Florida State QB Jordan Travis was the star of the evening. The second-year starter hit Ontaria Wilson on a double-reverse flea-flicker for a 39-yard score early in the second quarter to put the 'Noles up 7-3, a lead they would never relinquish. Travis connected with Wilson again in the third quarter on a beautiful over-the-shoulder dime near the right pylon to make it a 17-3 ballgame and crank the pressure up even more on a Tigers team that simply couldn't get going offensively. Travis finished the evening 20 of 32 for 260 yards with two touchdowns, eight carries and 31 yards rushing.
Daniels got the start under center for coach Brian Kelly, who was making his debut in the purple and gold after a successful 12-year stint at Notre Dame. He went 26 of 35 for 209 yards and two touchdowns, adding 114 yards on the ground. Part of the reason that Daniels was essentially the only effective piece of the offense was an offensive line that simply couldn't hold the Florida State defensive front back. LSU gave up six tackles for loss, which included four sacks.
What are the primary takeaways from the thriller in New Orleans?
Travis is the real deal
The 'Noles' signal caller looked like a different player Saturday in a hostile environment one one of the biggest stages of his career. The pass over Ontaria Wilson's shoulder for FSU's touchdown in the third quarter couldn't have been put in a better spot, and the fourth-quarter drive that made it a 24-10 game included a tremendous 15-yard reception on the run over-the-middle to big 6-foot-7 target Johnny Wilson.
That's a great sign moving forward. The ACC is loaded with stud quarterbacks, and Travis wasn't included in the group that included Devin Leary, Tyler Van Dyke, Kedon Slovis and others. Go ahead and add Travis to that group because he looked like a bona fide star against a fast and physical Tigers defense.
Special teams told the tale
The missed extra point with no time on the clock will be the one that everybody remembers, but it was a blocked field goal attempt earlier in the game that set Brown to make the decisive play of the game.
Ramos' second field goal attempt of the night was a 30-yarder that was blocked by Jared Verse, who came through the left side of the Tiger offensive line. Kelly told reporters after the game that the pressure that came through was enough for the Tigers to switch up some personnel. Clearly, that didn't work and opened the door for Brown to make history.
Kelly said after the game that Nabers, who muffed two punts on the night, was rock solid in practice and was shocked when the two fumbles happened during the game. It is clear that he will reassess his punt return lineup after the game as well, because those mistakes simply can't happen.
Third downs were huge
Third-down conversion percentage is one of the most important stats in college football, and Florida State was money when it mattered most against LSU. The Seminoles converted 11 of 17 attempts, including 5 of 8 in the second half. Travis was a big reason why. He was 8 of 12 for 92 yards and a touchdown on third downs, and all eight of his completions moved the chains. That helped the 'Noles win the time of possession battle and demoralized a Tigers defense that had no answer for the majority of the game. It worked both ways as well. LSU's offense finally got going in the fourth quarter but converted just 3 of 7 through the first three quarters. LSU has plenty of problems to address, and its issues on third down on both sides of the ball should be at the top of the list.
LSU's offensive line needs work
It a big concern heading into the season, and it remains an issue. Daniels never seemed to be comfortable and was relegated to a "one read and bail" quarterback for the majority of the evening. That led to massive frustration, most notably with star wide receiver Kayshon Boutte; the two were caught on the broadcast having some clearly intense conversations.
That's not something that is easily addressed, either. The most important part of any offensive line's progression is continuity, and the fact that there are four new starters up front clearly showed. Luckily for LSU, Daniels is mobile enough to escape and make some plays with this legs when necessary. That isn't something that is sustainable for a full season, though. Especially in an SEC West that is loaded with studs in the front seven.
One Play.— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) September 5, 2022
We got a game
4:07 Q4: Florida State 24, LSU 17
Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels was 7 of 11 on very impressive 15-play, 75-yard drive that culminated with a 22-yard strike to Jaray Jenkins down the left sideline to make it a one-score game again. It goes without saying that it was a "gotta have it" drive for Brian Kelly's Tigers, who couldn't get anything going offensively until the fourth quarter. His squad has ripped off two very important fourth quarter drives to give them a puncher's chance, but the defense has to get a stop right here. Otherwise, this one's over.
Florida State answers back
9:04 Q4: Florida State 24, LSU 10
The Tigers punched it in from a yard out early in the fourth quarter to finally get some momentum on offense, but Seminoles quarterback Jordan Travis put an end to that in a hurry. He led the 'Noles on a 12-play, 79-yard drive that ended with a DJ Lundy one-yard plunge to make it a 14-point game. Travis was 3 of 3 for 48 yards on the drive, and the Seminoles converted three third-downs in what was a big statement for Norvell's crew.
Touchdown Seminoles— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) September 5, 2022
FSU 24, LSU 10
4Q | 9:04
J Travis is ballin! Way to stand in there and DELIVER. Big time— EJ Manuel (@EJManuel3) September 5, 2022
Jordan Travis is absolutely balling. Cool, confident, terrific decision making. He was incredible vs. UNC last year but this is a much better performance IMO because of the way he is leading this offense. It’s not 100 percent on his running. He’s a complete QB tonight.— Andrea Adelson (@aadelsonESPN) September 5, 2022
FLORIDA STATE 🍢😁— Cam akers (@thereal_cam3) September 5, 2022
J Trav dropping dimes tonight 😮💨Heisman sleeper watch 👀— McKenzie Milton (@McKenzieMil10) September 5, 2022
Wilson with one hand
4:17 Q3: Florida State 17, LSU 3
The Seminoles finally cashed in a golden opportunity late in the third quarter when Jordan Travis dropped a dime over the top of a defender to Ontaria Wilson, who made a tremendous one-handed catch by the pylon. It came on third-and-4 from the 27-yard line, and included a targeting call on LSU linebacker Ali Gaye after Gaye hit quarterback Jayden Daniels in the head with the crown of the helmet. The frustration is boiling over for LSU and Florida State hadn't been able to take advantage up to that point.
FSU 17, LSU 3— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) September 5, 2022
3Q | 4:17
Florida State settles for three
8:29 Q3: Florida State 10, LSU 3
The Seminoles just can't seem to punch it in, but it might not matter. Ryan Fitzgerald hit a 25-yard field goal to cap off a 14-play, 68-yard drive to make it a seven point game. It nearly didn't happen, though. Quarterback Jordan Travis heaved up a prayer on third-and-7 from the seven, and it was nearly picked off by Mekhi Garner in the end zone. Travis has been solid for the most part, but a couple of ill-advised risks have almost turned the tide of the game.