The first half was a complete disaster for the 'Noles as they made plenty of mistakes, made some progress, and then committed more mistakes. They started the game off with a long kick return by Kermit Whitfield who broke the FSU single season record in the process. They were unable to get anything going until their second drive of the game where Travis Rudolph juked a defender for a big gain, setting up Roberto Aguayo for a 53-yard field goal which was short due to him slipping. After a Houston touchdown, Josh Sweat and DeMarcus Walker teamed up to intercept Greg Ward Jr., giving the ball to the 'Noles deep in UH territory. Things started to look good for Florida State, and then Sean Maguire injured his left leg and had to leave the field on a cart, leaving JJ Cosentino to lead the offense. The drive ended in a short field goal for Aguayo, who converted the kick this time.
The offense could not gain any traction with Cosentino at the helm, intact, they lost 15 yards on the two full drives that he led. Maguire then came running back onto the field, hoping to put the 'Noles into a position to come back. Things somehow got worse as the offense did not gain a single yard for the rest of the half which included a Dalvin Cook lost fumble deep in FSU territory and an interception by Maguire with an open Bobo Wilson. Houston put up two touchdowns in that second quarter, including one on a wide receiver pass to head into the locker room leading the 'Noles 21-3.
The second half began with the 'Noles making up some ground as they scored their first touchdown of the game on a Dalvin Cook 1-yard touchdown run after stopping Houston on their first drive. The defense kept giving FSU chances to put more points on the board, but Sean Maguire threw two costly and avoidable interceptions in the next two drives. The touchdown was the only points scored by either team in the third.
Houston led off the fourth with a field goal increasing their lead to two touchdowns with 12:50 left. With their backs against the wall, Travis Rudolph created separation and Sean Maguire aired out a 65-yard touchdown pass to Rudolph, making it a one possession game. However, Houston would not go down without a fight. The Florida State defense that had been so spectacular in the second half gave up a late touchdown to move their lead back up to 14. Florida State would once again go on a drive and would wind up scoring their third touchdown of the half, making it a 31-24 game. Shortly after the ensuing kickoff return into FSU territory, Greg Ward Jr. of Houston went down with an injury and had to be removed. Backup Kyle Postman led the Cougars to another touchdown drive which included two third down conversions. On a final desperation drive, Sean Maguire threw his fourth interception of the afternoon, putting the nail in the coffin.
Maguire was doing decently before he left the game, however the injury clearly effected him once he returned late in the first half. He finished the game 22-44 with 392 yards after a strong fourth quarter, and threw for two touchdowns and four interceptions. Dalvin Cook struggled in the first half rushing for 11 yards on 10 attempts and finished with 38 yards and a touchdown. Travis Rudolph had a huge game, catching seven passes for 201 yards and was a big reason the 'Noles were in this game.
Despite the 38 points given up, the Florida State defense played their tails off early and kept the 'Noles relevant throughout. Their biggest task was to stop duel-threat QB Greg Ward Jr, which they did holding him to 67 rushing yards on 20 attempts, and 238 passing yards, despite the three touchdowns. Derwin James was arguably the biggest contributor on defense as he finished with 14 tackles, a huge fourth down sack and a pass break up. DeMarcus Walker had a solid game as well, finishing with 13 tackles and one interception.
Florida State finishes the season at 10-3 and will open up the 2016 season on September 5th, 2016 against Ole Miss in Orlando.