ORLANDO, Fla. — We’ve been licking our chops ever since we first laid eyes on the Week 1 schedule.
Boy, it didn’t disappoint, as Florida State and Ole Miss closed a four-day college football bender with one of those head-scratching, momentum-swaying games between nationally ranked teams that has come to define this sport.
When it was over, just past midnight at Camping World Stadium, No. 4 Florida State had a 45-34 victory over No. 11 Ole Miss. It was a game that saw the Seminoles rally from a 28-6 deficit late in the first half, a game that saw FSU redshirt freshman quarterback Deondre Francois become a star right in front of our very eyes and a game that made an already forgettable opening weekend for the big, bad SEC that much worse.
This one didn’t have a heart-stopping ending in double overtime similar to the Notre Dame-Texas classic on Sunday night, but it was yet another reminder of how unpredictable (and just plain entertaining) college football can be.
Francois, making his first collegiate start, was brilliant. He finished with 419 passing yards, 478 yards of total offense and two touchdowns. It was reminiscent of Jameis Winston‘s debut back in 2013 — but only better.
If the Seminoles go on to win the national championship this season, they will undoubtedly be talking about Francois’ 16-yard touchdown pass to Travis Rudolph in the final seconds of the first half. Francois stood in against the pressure and delivered the scoring strike despite being planted into the turf by Ole Miss’s Marquis Haynes. A woozy Francois had to be helped to the sideline by teammates.
The Rebels had dominated the game up until that point, but you could feel a different vibe in the stadium.
Nobody, though, could have predicted that the Seminoles would reel off 33 unanswered points, looking exactly like the national championship-caliber team everybody was expecting during the preseason. Of course, one thing we’ve come to expect from Jimbo Fisher’s bunch is resilience.
Going back to 2013, the Seminoles have trailed seven times at the half in regular-season games and won all seven.
The third quarter was one Hotty Toddy disaster for the Rebels, who were outgained 214 to minus-7 yards in total offense. As red-hot as Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly was for much of the first half, he and the Rebels’ offense went belly-up in the second half against an FSU pass rush that was relentless. Kelly was intercepted three times.
For the Seminoles, it’s the kind of nonconference win that will only look better when it’s time to pick the four teams in the College Football Playoff.
For the SEC, it was another Week 1 punch to the jaw. Think about it. Ole Miss, Auburn, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State and Missouri all lost to nonconference foes, while Arkansas and Tennessee were fortunate to escape.
Yes, Alabama rolled (pardon the pun), but the “S-E-C, S-E-C” chants were few and far between.
It’s only one week of football, but it sure was a fun week.