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Florida State comes back from 21 down, beats Louisville

The win streak is alive at 24 games, after three 5-star true-freshmen scored four touchdowns in the second half.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The tough news came for Florida State pre-game, when it was announced that star linebacker Terrance Smith would miss the game with a pectoral injury, meaning FSU was now without six linebackers (Smith, Ukeme Eligwe, E.J. Levenberry, Delvin Purifoy, Kain Daub, and Jacob Pugh). Meanwhile, Matthew Thomas injured his shoulder during the game and had to come out. FSU has only nine scholarship linebackers. Suffice to say, this was likely to be an issue.

And for much of the game it was.

Right guard Tre' Jackson and right tackle Bobby Hart both missed practice time during the week and were clearly not 100 percent. Left tackle Cameron Erving couldn't use his right arm for much of the game, after injuring it late in the first half. This, too, was likely to be an issue.

And for much of the game it was.

Jameis Winston hobbled around in the second half like he had stepped on a nail after having his right ankle twisted. That, too, was an issue.

But after getting down 21-0, Florida State went on a 42-10 run, putting up 585 yards in the process on the No. 1 defense in the country.

First half

Louisville opened the game with a 71-yard play to star receiver DeVante Parker, but Florida State had a tremendous goal line stand to prevent the score.

At the end of the first quarter, both teams had missed touchdown opportunities. Louisville's fourth drive, however, was excellent, covering 80 yards in 7 plays, including many on the ground, capped by a Michael Dyer touchdown.

Kermit Whitfield slipped down at his own 15 on the ensuing kickoff return, making FSU start with yet another long field. FSU marched on a methodical drive, using plenty of clock, but after a false start by Nick O'Leary created a third-and-eight, Jameis Winston was intercepted when pressured up the middle, as Louisville continued to exploit Ryan Hoefeld.

The Cardinals quickly took advantage, driving 52 yards on 5 plays & ending with a second Michael Dyer touchdown.

Winston was intercepted, once again, on the next drive, when freshman receiver Travis Rudolph didn't believe the ball was coming to him on a deep corner route and quit on his route because there were three defenders around him--there was just one slight problem: the throw came his way, and although it was a super throw, the risky decision backfired when Rudolph quit on the route, with the safety coming over the top to pick it off.

Louisville quickly went 43 yards for the touchdown on six plays, as the reserve linebackers continued to get dominated by Michael Dyer and Co.

FSU did march for a touchdown late in the half to narrow the margin to 21-7.

At the half, Louisville was rushing for 6.8 yards/carry. The linebackers were being taken advantage of.

Second half

On the first drive of the second half, Winston was picked off, forced the fumble from the returner, but FSU, which had been excellent in short yardage on the season, was stopped on fourth and short at midfield.

Louisville only managed to net a field goal from the good field position, and the Seminoles struck quickly on the following drive as Winston found Rudolph (the same kid who quit on his route causing an earlier interception) for a 68-yard touchdown, when Louisville's defense turned him loose on a vertical route.

FSU's defense forced a stop and then went 80 yards on only five plays, including three throws to Dalvin Cook and a run by the freshman of 40 yards for a touchdown to cut the score to 24-21.

FSU then forced another stop, thanks to continued excellent defensive line play, covering for the deficient linebackers. The Seminoles drove 39 yards on 10 plays, but could not finish the drive as Roberto Aguayo had a very rare missed field goal.

But Florida State's defense answered the bell, once again, getting another third down stop due to excellent defensive line play and a nice pass defensed by P.J. Williams.

FSU looked to be in trouble when faced with third and 10, but Winston threaded the needle on another very risky decision, this time completing the pass to Ermon Lane for a 47-yard touchdown pass, the freshman's first career TD.

The Cardinals would storm right back, however, with a 77-yard drive that began with a 50-yard catch on a blatant, but uncalled push off by DeVante Parker. Michael Dyer did the rest on the ground to retake the lead for the Cardinals, 31-28.

FSU drove to the Louisville 32, but Winston was sacked on third down, taking the Seminoles out of field goal range. Cason Beatty punted to the 12 and the defense forced a three-and-out, giving the Seminoles the football at the Louisville 38 after a poor punt from Ryan Johnson.

It took just one play for FSU to re-gain the lead, as Cook raced 38 yards for his second touchdown of the night.

Florida State's defensive line rose to the occasion, one more time, stopping the Cards on downs. The Noles then tacked on another touchdown to go up 42-31 on a beautifully designed play-action pass to Freddie Stevenson, who had smooth sailing to the end zone, as Louisville sold out against the run.