Nov. 3, 2011
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- The Florida State football program is going bowling for a 30th consecutive season.
A 38-7 beat-down of Boston College Thursday night in Chestnut Hill, Mass. officially stamped the Seminoles' ticket to a postseason bowl game. At 30 seasons and counting, FSU (6-3, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) owns the nation's longest active bowl streak and is just five years away from potentially tying Nebraska's record of 35.
"That's one of our goals we knew from the beginning of the year, and now we've knocked that one off," FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "Thirty years in a row. There's something about that. Everybody says it's no big deal, but don't do it and see what happens."
After a three-game losing streak drastically shifted the momentum and expectations of the season, FSU put itself in position to extend the bowl streak behind a balanced team effort over the course of its current four-game winning streak -- much like the one that was on display in front of ESPN's cameras Thursday night.
EJ Manuel returned from his injury and has guided an offense that has now outscored four-straight ACC opponents by 25 points or more -- FSU's first such scoring streak since 2000. Defensively, Florida State has benefitted from a tremendous pass rush and run-stuffing ability that had the team ranked eighth nationally this week.
After the trip to New England, those defensive rankings will be improved. FSU benefited from the 38 points it hung on Boston College (2-7, 1-5) but it didn't need to have another margin of victory of 25 points or more. The Seminoles held the Eagles to just 207 yards of offense and a 5-of-15 mark on third-down conversions.
The Seminoles forced four turnovers -- two fumbles and interceptions by Bjoern Werner and Telvin Smith -- too. Nigel Bradham finished with a team-high seven tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. Terrance Parks added six tackles and Anthony McCloud had five stops and a tackle for loss.
Lamarcus Joyner had a quarterback sack.
Boston College tailback Rolandan Finch, who had rushed for 243 yards in a win over Maryland last weekend, was held to just 59 yards on 28 carries for a minuscule per-rush average of 2.1 yards. Quarterbacks Chase Rettig and Josh Bordner combined to throw for 113 yards and touchdown for BC.
"If you're going to be a great football team, you've got to have a great defense," Joyner said. "You've got to control the line of scrimmage, and that's what the guys are doing. We've been doing that the past three weeks."
Offensively, Manuel threw for just 62 yards in the second half but finished with another high-efficiency outing in his 180-yards, 12-of-16 effort. He also added a touchdown pass and a touchdown throw.
Devonta Freeman got the start at tailback and the bulk of the carries as he registered two touchdowns and 62 yards rushing on 12 opportunities and fellow freshman Nick O'Leary had a game-best 87 yards on three catches. Bert Reed added 35 yards receiving and a score and Lonnie Pryor had a fourth-quarter touchdown.
FSU posted 307 yards of offense and had just three penalties for 15 yards -- both statistics that are well below their game-by-game averages.
The 'Noles and Eagles traded three-and-outs to start the game before Shawn Powell rugby-kicked his punt inside the BC 10 yard-line.
Two plays later, the FSU defense forced a Finch fumble near the goal line and the Eagles paid mightily after Smith fell on the loose ball. Manuel then calmly stood in the pocket on second-and-goal after that play and found Reed for the four-yard touchdown pass to take a 7-0 lead.
The Seminoles then started the second quarter with another scoring effort. Freeman's 12-yard run capped off a seven-play, 56-yard drive that increased the score to 14-0.
After yet another three-and-out by the Boston College offense, another freshman put FSU in scoring position. O'Leary's career-best 58-yard reception was followed by a 12-yard run to the goal line by Freeman. Two plays later, Manuel burrowed his way through the linemen for a one-yard touchdown and 21-0 score with 10:24 still left in the second quarter.
The script then remained the same for FSU. Boston College had to punt the ball away on fourth down and Freeman's 3-yard cut-back run extended the advantage to 28-0 midway through the second frame.
The ensuing Boston College drive finally resulted in some positive yardage for the home team. BC made a switch at quarterback from Rettig to the redshirt freshman Bordner. The dual-threat signal-caller scrambled for his team's first first-down of the game with 4:35 left in the second quarter and then threw a bomb down to the goal line to Bobby Swigert.
But the Seminoles' defense struck again and a fumbled exchange between Bordner and Finch that was recovered by FSU and the offense ran out the clock before the conclusion of the half.
Boston College caught its first break of the night after both teams emerged from their respective locker rooms.
The Seminoles got the ball first but Manuel's fumble was recovered by the Eagles on FSU's 26 yard-line. The short field resulted in a 12-yard scoring pass from Rettig to Swigert with 9:56 left in the third.
After Dustin Hopkins booted a 47-yard field goal to push the 'Noles' lead to 31-7, the next two Boston College drives saw the same thing: FSU interceptions.
First Smith took a pass away from Bordner and after a failed fourth-down conversion by the 'Noles, Werner's magnificent takeaway set up an offensive scoring drive for his team. Pryor's one-yard plunge with 10:16 left in the fourth quarter came after a completion to O'Leary, a third-down pass conversion to Freeman and back-to-back runs by James Wilder, Jr.
Florida State now returns home to prepare for next weekend's showdown with rival Miami. An announcement regarding game-time for the Nov. 12 game is expected Sunday afternoon so stay tuned to Seminoles.com for more information.
Tickets can be purchased for this year's edition of 'Noles-'Canes by clicking here.