Photo courtesy of Florida State athletics
Florida State’s bowl hopes are hanging by a thread.
The Seminoles hosted ACC Atlantic division hopeful North Carolina State on Saturday. An abysmal first half led to the ultimate 28-14 loss, leaving FSU at 3-6.
If Florida State football is to make a bowl, it will have to win the remaining three games on the schedule.
The Wolfpack, on the other hand, rise to 7-2, and are firmly in the driver’s seat of their ACC destiny.
First Half Woes
Florida State’s football team dealt with a particularly nasty strain of the flu virus entering this contest. The ACC Network reported that the Seminoles would be missing 20-25 players due to illness.
Fortunately, not many were listed on the team’s two-deep depth chart. Unfortunately, three of the players missing were key to FSU’s offensive success thus far.
Offensive guards Dillon Gibbons and Baveon Johnson were unable to start. Their presence was sorely missed, as the Wolfpack defensive line dominated FSU’s interior.
The ‘Noles mustered only 12 yards on 10 rushing attempts in the first half.
Perhaps the most valuable player missing for FSU’s offense was quarterback Jordan Travis. UCF transfer McKenzie Milton earned the start, but could not get anything going in the first half.
The veteran quarterback only managed to complete seven passes for 79 yards with an interception.
The Seminole offense was shut out in the first half for the first time this year.
Meanwhile, Florida State’s secondary was struggling. Two blown coverages and poor tackling efforts allowed NC State to score twice on chunk plays. FSU was allowing only 2.8 yards per rushing attempt, but the secondary was toasted for 179 yards on 13 completions.
Playing From Behind
Head coach Mike Norvell began the second half with a momentum-swinging onside kick. It worked when kicker Parker Grothaus knocked the ball 10 yards downfield and recovered.
Milton came out and played like an entirely different quarterback. An escape drill scramble became a touchdown pass to Keyshawn Helton along the sideline and the ‘Noles closed the gap to one score.
Unfortunately, another complete and total bust by FSU’s secondary shut down the good feelings quickly as Wolfpack quarterback Devin Leary tossed his third touchdown of the day.
Milton led another touchdown drive in the second half, but the comeback was not in the cards. He finished the second half completing 15 of 29 passes for 154 yards.
After a desperation conversion attempt failed on fourth down in Seminole territory, the Wolfpack took over and scored again. The game was effectively put out of reach with 7:34 remaining.
The Seminoles finished with an abysmal third-down conversion rate of 12.5%. They were also held to under 100 yards rushing for the third time this season.