Well, that was fun.
No. 16 Florida State (9-3, 5-3 ACC) capped off a major leap of a third season under head coach Mike Norvell on Friday with a win over the Florida Gators (6-6, 3-5 SEC), improving by four wins from last season.
The Seminoles earned every inch of the win, fighting off a feisty Gators squad that was able to find plenty of success on the offensive side of the ball to keep things close throughout the game.
To break down the win, the Tomahawk Nation staff tackles five questions below.
What was your favorite Jordan Travis play of the night?
Perry: They were all fantastic, but the second play in the red zone (that wasn’t called a touchdown but was a touchdown) was especially impressive because he had just done that against the Florida defense previously. It’s a testament to Travis’ playmaking ability that it is now just expected that he’s capable at any moment of stringing together a multitude of jaw-dropping sack-evading plays.
LastNoleOfKrypton: Will anyone choose anything over that Houdini moment in the red zone? Kid’s magic.
Evan Johnson: I refuse to pick one. He wasn’t perfect but he was calm, cool and collected and forced that FSU offense to execute.
Juan Montalvo III: My favorite was the time when Jordan beat the Gators.
Tommy Mire: I don't really have a favorite. Pretty much anytime Travis got in the open field made my jaw drop.
Why was UF able to find success against the FSU defense?
LastNoleOfKrypton: UF’s offensive line played one heck of a game; they were able to take advantage of miscommunication in the secondary affecting both coverages and run fits.
Evan Johnson: UF has a pretty good offense but it feels like FSU was confused by all of the motion UF employed and they shouldn’t have been. They had just seen a similar offense. They knew what was coming. UF has a good OL too and they played a very good game. Thankfully Billy Napier went full stupid coming out of the half and stopped trying to run the ball.
Perry: Poor communication in the secondary kept leading to wide open receivers, and then poor pursuit angles by FSU defenders in open space helped augment those already big plays. With all the success that Florida State has had on defense this year, the secondary has been a concern in several matchups and very nearly cost FSU this game.
NoleThruandThru: FSU was hampered by its emotion in the first half, and in the second half there were multiple instances of pre-snap confusion that UF capitalized on. Lots of self-inflicted mistakes on both sides of the ball, but major credit to the UF offensive line as well. They did whatever they wanted against the FSU defensive line for much of the night.
Juan: Really physical play from UF disrupted FSU in the first half, it seemed. They were able to recover and regroup, and show their physicality. The goal line near-stand showed what FSU could do once settled in.
Tommy Mire: Their backs were hitting the gaps well and double teams up front were making huge holes to go through. Richardson’s size and running ability were definitely evident when he saw a lane.
What did the win tell you about this team and program?
LastNoleOfKrypton: The climb gets more enjoyable with each game; can’t wait to see who we face in the bowl game.
Evan Johnson: That they own the state for now. There’s still lots of room for improvement but they also showed a lot of fight. They didn’t collapse in on themselves like they’ve done earlier this season. Progress isn’t linear but they are certainly progressing.
Perry: This is what it’s supposed to look like. FSU finished off the year on a five-game win streak, looking like the better team in almost all of its matchups this season. The team was capable of handling adversity, pressure and expectations, and given the incremental signs of progress we’ve seen over the last few years, it really has to make you excited to see what could possibly come in 2023.
NoleThruandThru: The team is still learning to handle its emotions, which is an extremely tough balance to strike in a rivalry game. Mike Norvell was prepared for this, constantly reminding the team to keep a mental edge, and numerous players responded back to him in the same way. The cameras captured Verse pointing to his head and accepting responsibility on a penalty, which is an excellent example of coachability and leadership.
Juan: This team - and, I think the program - has grit. We knew that, but the first two Norvell teams, all the Willie teams, and even Jimbo’s last couple teams may have folded in that situation.
Tommy Mire: Those guys play for each other and the improvement is apparent, which was noticeable even in fall camp. It’s a strong foundation for Mike Norvell to build on and the seniors are leaving the program the best that it has been in a long time.
Which win was more fun — Florida or Miami?
LastNoleOfKrypton: This one was more fun; Miami being the blowout that it was more satisfying.
Evan Johnson: How do you pick a favorite child? For me a win over UF is always going to be more worthwhile than a win over UM. I think part of it has to do with the SEC garbage you always here about. If FSU played in the SEC they’d be undefeated. I can say that because they are already undefeated in the SEC without even playing in that conference.
Perry: Fun for a neutral viewer? Tonight, because that was just fun football. FSU fans though? There was not a sense of fun had likely until Florida State took over on downs to kneel out the clock in the fourth. Smacking down Miami and adding on to an already-miserable season though, that just felt great.
NoleThruandThru: Miami was more fun, but tonight was more satisfying.
Juan: What NTT said.
Tommy Mire: Miami. This win had me not watching some plays out of fear that I would somehow jinx it and the score/ending was a little too close for comfort. But hey, they started the season with a thrilling win against LSU and ended it in a similar fashion.
No question, just a free space to use creative, non-explicit language to describe tonight’s refs
LastNoleOfKrypton: They bet UF +9.5
Evan Johnson: It’s clear that conferences do not care about officiating in any sport. Often times rules are difficult to consistently enforce and then you have what happened tonight. I have no words for the way the refs ran this game.
Perry: Press boxes are normally very restrained in speaking out when refs make calls — but across the board, from all different outlets and teams, every time this crew did something there was a communal exhibition of exasperation. These idiots really reviewed an obvious touchdown that had obvious targeting, overturned the score but then didn’t call the late hit????
NoleThruandThru: Remember when they missed an obvious delay of game? Pepperidge Farm remembers.
Anyway, enough about those boneheads. How on earth could a recruit at Doak tonight NOT have FSU as a serious contender? Huge shoutout to the fans for creating an electric atmosphere for recruits from 2023, ‘24, ‘25, and yes, even ‘26, to witness! The nation saw tonight that Doak can still rock at night with the best of them.
Juan: No explicit language? That’s b—[censored, arrested, identity wiped from the internet]
Tommy Mire: I actually heard that a fan jumping over the railings while storming the field broke an ankle and It looked very very bad (If by any chance you’re reading this in your hospital bed I hope you're ok, seriously.) But I’m surprised the refs didn’t stop the celebrations to check to see if their ankle was truly broken and then issue the ground a 10-yard penalty only to reverse it FIVE MINUTES LATER.
Aside from that, the fans storming the field was a first for me and we had a nice view from the press box. This win was truly the happiest I’ve seen FSU fans in quite a while. A very good ending to the regular season.