Saturday, 2:30 a.m.
FSU had blown it. They had the game in their grasp, and they had let it slip away. It was going to be a lousy finish for the Seminoles. It was going to sting for a while.
And then it wasn’t.
The Seminoles charged from behind with a memorable comeback to beat Michigan, 33-32, in Friday night’s Orange Bowl. FSU fell from ahead, then came from behind to win in a game the 'Noles will remember for a while.
Quick as waking up from a nightmare, things changed. An improbable kickoff return. A pass to Dalvin Cook. A touchdown pass from a wayward quarterback. And just like that, FSU turned a night to forget into a memory worth keeping.
Quarterback Deondre Francois, who had one of his roughest nights, hit Nyquan Murray for 12 yards and the winning touchdown with 36 seconds to play to bring the Seminoles back.
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Michigan blocked the extra point and returned it for two points and had the ball needing only a field goal to win. But Carlos Becker intercepted a fourth-down pass to cinch the victory.
“I’m as proud of this team as any I’ve coached,” said FSU coach Jimbo Fisher. “We lost a couple of games early, and people kept asking what we had to play for. If you’re keeping score, we’re playing. That’s the FSU way.”
FSU jumped on Michigan earlier, taking a 17-3 lead behind explosive plays. The Seminoles out-gained Michigan 201-22 yards in the first quarter.
Murray caught a 92-yard pass and Cook broke a 71-yard run and caught a 45-yard pass, and it looked as if the Noles might win easily.
But Michigan’s defense tightened, and their offense did just enough. Chris Evans had a 30-yard run to give the Wolverines the lead with less than two minutes to play.
On the ensuing kickoff, however, freshman Keith Gavin fielded the ball, balked, then ran ahead as teammate Kermit Whitfield signaled in vain for him to take a knee. Instead, Allen lumbered 65 yards to the Michigan 34.
At the time, Francois had hit only seven of 24 passes for 189 yards. But he hit two of his last three for 33 yards to pull out the win.
Cook said he “never thought about” sitting out the game like LSU’s Leonard Fournette or Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey. “That ain’t him,” Fisher said. Michigan star Jabrill Peppers missed the game because of a hamstring injury.
“We won, and it was the best day of my life,” said Cook, who had 145 yards rushing. “This game took so many turns, but we just kept fighting.
The victory would seem to clinch a top 10 finish for the ‘Noles, who won seven of their last eight games. (Michigan lost three of its last four). FSU is sure to be one of the highest ranked teams going into next year.
Said Fisher: “The future is great. I promise you that.”