Three and Out: Florida State outlasts Notre Dame in prime-time thriller

Florida State outlasts Notre Dame 31-27 in prime-time thriller in Tallahassee.
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While the 2014 game between Notre Dame and Florida State likely won’t qualify for Game of the Century status, like the 1993 edition, it was still a whole lot of fun. Though Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson completed a pass for a first down on fourth-and-18 with under two minutes to play, the No. 5 Fighting Irish’s comeback bid fell just short, as No. 2 Florida State hung on to win 31-27.

Golson went 31 of 52 for 313 yards with three scores, and he appeared to be the hero when he connected with Corey Robinson from two yards out in the waning seconds. However, an offensive pass interference call negated the score. Golson’s second fourth-and-goal attempt was unsuccessful.

Here are three quick thoughts from the Seminoles’ thrilling win in Tallahassee:

1. Florida State is in the driver’s seat for a playoff berth

While this victory doesn’t lock up Florida State’s College Football Playoff berth by any stretch of the imagination, it puts the ‘Noles one step closer to landing a spot in the four-team field. This was the biggest remaining test by far for either team, and this should be a signature win that will play well with the committee.

While no game is a sure thing in college football, Florida State has to feel good about its chances the rest of the way. The Fighting Irish led until midway through the fourth quarter and rallying to beat Notre Dame is a confidence builder that will go a long way toward silencing the critics looking for an excuse why the Seminoles aren’t contenders to repeat. Florida State’s next three games are at Louisville (Oct. 30), against Virginia (Nov. 8) and at Miami (Nov. 15).

2. Jameis Winston is still one of the best players in the nation

Plenty of time is spent discussing Winston’s off-field concerns, and understandably so. However, it overshadows the fact that the reigning Heisman Trophy winner is still a really, really good football player. He hasn’t been as consistent as he was during his redshirt freshman campaign, but he has come through when it mattered most. Saturday might have been his most complete game thus far, as he went 23 of 31 for 273 passing yards with two touchdowns and led a big drive to put the ‘Noles up for good, capped by Karlos Williams’ one-yard score with 7:39 to play.

Winston’s repeat Heisman chances remain unclear, but he has the ‘Noles in position to compete for a second consecutive national championship.

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3. This game lived up to the hype

It feels like the prime-time Saturday matchup falls flat far too often. That wasn’t the case this week. Florida State and Notre Dame staged a classic under the lights.

People may have questioned whether the Irish or ‘Noles were deserving of their rankings coming in, but this was a well-played game from both sides with fairly few mistakes (other than the interception call-and-response out of Golson and Winston early in the second quarter). Both teams grasped the importance of this game. They raised their level of play to match the immense hype.