The Florida State equipment bus pulled into Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, another post-game interview with Jimbo Fisher being asked about his team’s heart and the beat rolled on for the Seminoles.
Just like it rolled on when they needed a late flag against Norte Dame to win. Just like it rolled on when they needed overtime heroics against Clemson. And just like it rolled on when they needed second half stardom from Jameis Winston to win Thursday night, 42 to 31 against Louisville
Maybe Jameis Winston is unbeatable, at least on the College Football field in a Seminole Jersey, or maybe when he’s put into unlikely spots where you expect him to falter.
“They always find a way to win,” Louisville CB Charles Gaines said after the game.
Louisville Wide Receiver Devante Parker thought he was gone when Will Gardner connected with him on a 72 yard pass on the first play of the game. He wasn’t.
Gerald Holliman thought his interception on the first play of the third quarter would perhaps deliver a knockout punch or at least set his team up in position to do so. It didn’t and a fumble on an interception not only returned possession back to Florida State…..but a first down as well.
Louisville fans thought they had Florida State beaten when they held a 21-0 advantage after 30 minutes of play. They weren’t.
That’s the story. Teams think they have Florida State – the Defending National Champions who have haven’t lost in nearly two years – right where they want them then something happens. Tonight Jameis Winston happened.
“You’re playing a team that’s real explosive, there’s a reason they were the National Champions last season,” an aggravated Bobby Petrino said. “[Jameis Winston] made a couple throws that there’s not a lot of people in the Country can make.”
That he did. He connected with Travis Rudolph on a 68-yard touchdown pass that led the beginning of the comeback for Florida State. Then Winston was in the groove and Louisville was on the ropes. They would give up 21 straight points and give Florida State a 28-24 lead late in the third quarter. Winston would throw for other 250 yards in the second half, delivering every play he needed to along the way.
“I told him to leave the off the field issues where they are,” Louisville CB Charles Gaines said of Jameis Winston. “You’re too good to do that.”
Poetically spoken, correctly spoken.
While we’re so caught up with Jameis Winston’s missteps we do tend to forget about the player is. Right or wrong, I won’t decide. There are issues that Winston has dealt with that are certainly worth revisiting. But I know the player that I saw in the flesh tonight was worth celebrating. His performance on the football field, anyway, is worth celebrating. We may never see something like him in the college football world again in quite some time.
Once again, he defeated a team that had stacked the odds against him.
For the most part Louisville did what they wanted. I mean, if you had wrote up a script for how Louisville would defeat the Noles, they fulfilled it.
Sure, they had plays that didn’t go their way. Bobby Petrino said he second guessed himself for not taking the field goal when the Cardinals got within their own 8 yard line in the first two minutes. It wouldn’t have mattered, three points wouldn’t have been enough, seven points wouldn’t have been enough. It would have just made the Florida State comeback more special than it already was.
What Louisville did do was force the untouchable Jameis Winston into three interceptions. Something he said he had never done in his life. They frustrated him for as long as they could and gave themselves a chance.
That troubled offense, it put up 31 points. It had over 450 total offensive yards. It had a running back in Michael Dyer that rushed for over 110 yards. It had quarterback in Will Gardner that seemed to officially get over his early season blues, playing in perhaps his best game of the season. He threw for 330 yards and a touchdown. An interception happened late in the game but it was one that didn’t matter because the outcome was already solidified. Bobby Petrino would have took that all day, twice on Saturday and three times on Thursday night.
“We just didn’t score enough points,” the Head Coach noted after the game.
It’s the common thread for Louisville Football. They couldn’t score enough points against Clemson, in fact they just needed a few more. They we’re a few inches away from that ‘few more’. Close but no cigar.
But it’s also the common theme that Florida State has left its opponents with in the midst of its sparkling streak. Talks of one more point, one more play, one more turnover.
You can talk about missed opportunities but in reality, don’t all games come with missed opportunities?
Because if they didn’t come, then that would mean you played perfect. That would mean you capitalized on each and everything they gave you. But of course nobody is perfect. And if nobody is perfect and you need the perfect game to defeat Florida State – or at least if your name is Louisville you do – doesn’t that make them unbeatable?
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