The vibes in Tallahassee are beginning to trend upward after Florida State comes off a solid performance with a win on the road at North Carolina. That makes it two straight for the Seminoles as they head into the bye week with some momentum.
Let's recap the three keys key matchups I laid out prior to the game and how the 'Noles fared.
1. Sam Howell vs FSU defense
We all know how great of a talent UNC quarterback Sam Howell is and FSU was up for the challenge. Howell totaled 203 yards in the air with two touchdowns and one interception while gaining 108 yards on the ground. Despite that being a great performance for most quarterbacks, the Seminoles defense was still able to control most of the game.
As I stated in the previous article, the Tar Heels have offensive line issues, and they were evident throughout the game. Jermaine Johnson had the only sack for the 'Noles and the defensive end leads all Power Five players with seven sacks on the season. The defensive line was able to cause havoc and make life difficult for the Tar Heels offensive front and Sam Howell.
Howell did in fact target his favorite receiver, Josh Downs, often as he gained 121 yards on nine catches and one touchdown. UNC was able to run the ball effectively but situationally, the 'Noles stepped up when needed most. The Florida State defense won the matchup vs Sam Howell and this potent UNC offense.
2. Seminoles rushing attack vs UNC defense
We all know the biggest strength of this FSU offense is the running game. Running backs Jashaun Corbin and Treshaun Ward had a quality game once again. Ward's 77 rushing yards were tough and gritty while sealing the game with a first down late in the fourth quarter. But the MVP of the offense goes to quarterback Jordan Travis. He had a phenomenal game, and it was the best of his young career.
Travis ran the ball 14 times and gained 121 yards on the ground with two touchdowns and tossing three in the air. Let's not forget about the guys in the trenches, as the offensive line paved holes and lanes for these guys to run through and had an overall solid game. The 'Noles as a team ran for 238 yards on almost six yards per attempt and was a big component of a huge win in Chapel Hill.
3. 3rd/4th down efficiency
Once again, this season the Seminoles were efficient on third down this year. Without a fourth-down attempt in this game, the Noles converted seven of ten third downs. UNC converted seven of 12 while failing on their lone fourth-down attempt. It was key for FSU to put up good, sustained drives to keep the UNC offense on the sideline and keep the defense rested throughout the game.
North Carolina had won four straight and was undefeated at home this season before losing to Florida State. This was a big-time win for a program that's trending in the right direction. Will this game be the turning point for Coach Norvell and company? That will be answered in due time. For now, let's enjoy this win and get healthy during the bye week. Prepare for a home game vs UMASS, and a win would make it three straight heading into a trip to Death Valley.
Follow John Jenkins on Twitter