TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- An aggravated left hamstring injury ended Dalvin Cook’s first half with a season-low 28 rushing yards, but Florida State’s sophomore running back was the story again after returning in the second half and preventing Louisville’s upset bid.
Cook scored another captivating touchdown and topped 100 yards in the second half alone to lead No. 11 Florida State (6-0, 4-0) to a 41-21 victory over Louisville (2-4, 1-2).
What the win means for the Seminoles: It wasn’t a dominant game from Florida State, but that has been the norm the past two seasons. Florida State avoided falling from the ranks of the unbeaten, however, and remains firmly in ACC and playoff contention. Quarterback Everett Golson continues to battle inconsistency from play to play, but the Notre Dame transfer made solid strides in Jimbo Fisher’s offense for a third game in a row. Golson must continue to emerge for the Seminoles to keep winning late into the season, especially with Cook at less than 100 percent.
What the loss means for Louisville: The Cardinals have the look of a team better than their record, but they’re pretty much eliminated from the Atlantic Division race with losses to Clemson and Florida State. They could be in danger of missing the postseason completely, although remaining games against Boston College, Wake Forest, Syracuse and Virginia could get them to six wins. While the offensive line continues to struggle, quarterback Lamar Jackson and receiver James Quick are building a great rapport in the passing game. Quick caught five passes for 130 yards and three scores.
The game turned when: Fisher began yelling at Golson after a second-down pass he threw away under pressure, leaving the Seminoles with a third down deep in their own territory and trailing in the third quarter. On third down, Golson rolled to his right as a lineman pursued. He found an open Kermit Whitfield between two Louisville defenders and fit the ball into a tight window. Whitfield took it 70 yards for a touchdown, giving Florida State a 20-14 lead. On the Cardinals’ next drive, Jackson lost a fumble and the Seminoles scored three plays later.
Top play: At least some of the blame for Cook's big second half goes to Louisville’s defense, which showed no real desire to actually tackle him. Through most of the first half, Louisville’s tackling was sound and didn’t give Cook any opportunities for yards after contact. In the third quarter, however, Cook gained the edge on a rush off right tackle and then turned it back inside. He broke a few arm tackles from lazy Louisville defenders and then ran free for a 54-yard touchdown. It gave the FSU offense confidence after a first half in which it gained only 150 yards.