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FSU rides roller coasters in big games

We have seen Florida State dominate the likes of Wake Forest and Boston College at home.

But what happens when the games get a little bit tougher?

Florida State has yet to put together a complete game. I present to you what the Noles have done in their three toughest ACC tests so far this season.

Test 1: Clemson

  • The Tigers led 21-14 at halftime and stretched the lead to 28-14 in the third quarter before the Seminoles woke up, outscoring Clemson 35-8 the rest of the way en route to a 49-37 win.

  • In the first half, FSU had a costly fumble that Clemson converted into a touchdown, and missed two field goals.

Test 2: at NC State

  • FSU led 16-0 at halftime and appeared well on its way toward staying undefeated.

  • Then the second half happened. FSU gained only 122 yards after the break and failed to score. Chris Thompson only rushed for 26 of his 141 yards in the second half. Special teams allowed a critical blocked punt that gave NC State an opportunity to win the game. On its game-winning drive, the Wolfpack converted three fourth-down passes, including two inside the 15.

  • NC State pulled the upset 17-16.

Test 3: at Miami

  • Miami jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead, converting one fumble into a touchdown and a shanked punt into a field goal. In the first half, Florida State had four fumbles (lost two) and nine penalties (though some are in dispute).

  • Florida State only led 16-13 going into the fourth quarter before reeling off 21 straight points to pull out the 33-20 victory.

After the Miami game, coach Jimbo Fisher and players were asked about the sluggish start. Many chalked it up to the rivalry and emotion of the moment, but this also seems to be somewhat of a trend. Florida State has been a "tale of two halves" kinda team in its biggest games to date.

Each game has its own unique set of circumstances, of course. There were questionable calls in the Miami game, and the Noles also lost Thompson for the season. Fisher was not about to start dwelling on negatives.

"I kept saying that we overcame," he said during his news conference. "We had two fumbles early, which is very uncharacteristic for us, but we did. We overcame penalties –- move on. We overcame losing our best offensive football player. Overcame that –- move on. Still, had 450 yards of offense and scored over 30 points. We could have had 50 (points) and 600 (yards) if you get all the plays called back. We fix that. That wouldn’t have been done here in the past. Good teams don’t always do that. I was very proud with that. That’s what good teams do -- you fight through these games and that’s why I was very proud of this team. They overcame a lot of things that they always weren’t in control of. Some things they inflicted on themselves, some things they didn’t. That’s what you forget about -- which causes things to run smoothly... you’re execution. There are elements of the game that you can’t control and you’ve got to fight through those things."

Still, the potential for an even better Florida State is out there somewhere, given some of the glimpses we have seen. If Florida State can put a complete game together ...

"It’s scary," running back Devonta Freeman said. "When we’re clicking every play in both halves, it’s dangerous."