It seemed almost too simple. No. 10 Miami controlled the first half. No. 23 Florida State controlled the second half. The Seminoles capitalized on more of their opportunities, so they’d win.
Then Braxton Berrios showed off some track speed to return a punt 43 yards, setting up Miami on the Florida State 16 with 5:42 to play down 20–13. The Hurricanes capitalized on the short field as quarterback Brad Kaaya lobbed a pass that fell perfectly into the hand of receiver Stacy Coley for an 11-yard score. All Miami needed was to kick the extra point to force overtime, and with a kicker who had made 72 straight extra points, that was a given, right?
DeMarcus Walker, or more specifically his left hand, said no. Walker’s blocked extra point preserved Florida State’s lead and allowed the Seminoles to hang on for a 20–19 victory, their seventh straight over the Hurricanes.
Here are three thoughts on Florida State’s win:
1. Deondre Francois is tough
2. The game turned when Florida State’s defensive line started winning battles and Miami’s stopped
The result was a Seminoles offense that converted four straight third downs while scoring on consecutive possessions to take the lead. Cook finished with 150 yards on the ground in addition to his 59-yard touchdown catch.
On the other side of the ball, Florida State found similar success as its defensive line began to fluster Kaaya. In the stretch between Kaaya’s end-zone interception and his touchdown pass to Coley, the Hurricanes’ drives ended after they failed to convert on third-and-eight, third-and-15 and third-and-17. Overall Florida State sacked Kaaya three times and held Miami to 62 rushing yards on 2.2 yards per carry. The extra pressure helped the Seminoles’ much maligned pass defense, which entered Saturday 125th in the nation at 9.4 yards allowed per attempt, hold Kaaya to 4.5 yards per attempt.
3. Once again, the ACC Coastal is up for grabs
In past seasons, this was true because no team looked particularly strong, so just about any team in the Coastal seemed capable of beating any other. That’s no longer case, as the quality of the division has clearly improved. But picking a favorite hasn’t gotten much easier.
Miami would have seemed the likely candidate had the Hurricanes prevailed on Saturday. At 2–0 in conference play and with a top-10 ranking, they certainly would have been the team to beat. Instead, Virginia Tech sits atop the standings at 2–0, but the Hokies still have some proving to do after their weather-aided win over North Carolina. Trouncing the Tar Heels 34–3 on Saturday was nice, but an Oct. 20 showdown with Miami in what has to be better conditions will tell us more.