LOUISVILLE, Ky. – If trailing Auburn by 18 last season in the BCS Championship game didn’t shake Florida State, a 21-0 first-half deficit to Louisville surely wasn’t going to, either.
Thanks to another remarkable comeback by the Seminoles and quarterback Jameis Winston, their hopes of competing for a second straight national championship remain intact.
Winston threw three touchdown passes to offset a three-interception start and Dalvin Cook had two long scoring runs to help second-ranked Florida State rally for a 42-31 victory over Louisville on Thursday night.
“That was another heck of a football game. Fun to watch, wasn’t it?” Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said.
Big rallies aren’t uncommon for Florida State, which trailed Auburn 21-3 in the title game before winning 34-31 in a thriller. The Seminoles also overcame a 24-7 deficit at North Carolina State in September before going on to a 56-41 win.
Florida State’s latest comeback for its 24th straight win might have saved the season.
Out of sorts and on the verge of having its College Football Playoff prospects damaged, the Seminoles (8-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) recovered behind their Heisman Trophy quarterback and Cook.
Cook had a 40-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and gave the Seminoles the lead for good with a 38-yard run with 3:46 remaining.
All of Winston’s TD passes were big. He hit Travis Rudolph for 68 yards, Ermon Lane for 47, and Freddie Stevenson for the 35-yard clincher with 2:11 remaining.
Winston was 25 of 48 for 401 yards passing. Florida State outgained Louisville 574-488, including 374 in the second half.
“We’ve been there before,” the quarterback said after rallying his team despite a twisted right ankle that required treatment on the sideline during the game. He said the pain was temporary.
“Being down is nothing when you’ve got heart and you persevere. Personally, we play better when we’re down, honestly.
More important for the Seminoles was maintaining their national championship hopes on a night that Louisville (6-3, 4-3) nearly took them away.
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