Yet another top-10 team has lost as the 2020 season moves forward. No. 5 North Carolina came into Saturday's game against Florida State as two-touchdown favorites but exit on the wrong end of a 31-28 loss, taking the Tar Heels off the list of unbeaten teams this season.
From the start, it was clear that North Carolina would not be waltzing over the Seminoles. Quarterback Jordan Travis hit a quick 23-yard touchdown run -- his first of two on the night. By the second quarter, Florida State was up 24-0 thanks in part to spectacular play from the defense. The Seminoles played particularly well in the trenches, intercepting quarterback Sam Howell and returning it for a touchdown. The Noles also had a key fourth-down stop and stymied a two-point conversion attempt. In all, this was probably the best Florida State's defense has played this year.
Of course, nothing about a Florida State lead is safe, and North Carolina is a great fourth-quarter team. Missed field goals and penalties marked most of the Seminoles' second half as the Tar Heels began to chip away at the lead. With 2:30 left in the game, North Carolina got the ball back with one final chance to either tie or take the lead. Howell led the offense down the field, but three straight drops stopped North Carolina from pulling off the comeback.
This is the first real signature win for coach Mike Norvell in his first season in Tallahassee. While the start of the year hasn't been what Florida State fans have wanted, there were encouraging signs against the Tar Heels. The offensive line played better as the Noles rushed for 241 yards. That's been a real area of concern for a long time with this program.
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For North Carolina, a good second half wasn't able to overcome a poor first half. Coach Mack Brown, previously 0-for-9 against the Seminoles, remains winless against them.
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