After loss to Louisville, Florida State may not even reach a bowl game

Dr. Saturday

When Florida State lost quarterback Deondre Francois to a season-ending injury in Week 1, we wondered if FSU could still contend for the ACC title.

Now we’re wondering if the Seminoles can even reach a bowl game.

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Florida State was able to climb back from a 28-14 fourth-quarter deficit to tie the score Saturday at home against Louisville, but a brutal fumble deep in Cardinals territory by freshman QB James Blackman allowed Louisville to regain possession, march down the field and win the game, 31-28, with a field goal in the final seconds.

It was a heartbreaker for Florida State, which dropped to 2-4 on the season — a record that was unthinkable for a team with College Football Playoff expectations when the season began.

The game was a bit of a defensive struggle early. FSU took a 14-7 lead late in the first half when Lamar Jackson, Louisville’s Heisman-winning QB, fumbled and Matthew Thomas returned it 34 yards for a touchdown. But Jackson — no stranger to torching the FSU defense — quickly rebounded, hitting Seth Dawkins for a gorgeous 26-yard touchdown just before halftime, tying the game at 14.

The third quarter was all Louisville.

After an FSU missed field goal, a 51-yard Jackson scramble set up a short Reggie Bonnafon TD run to give Louisville the lead.

(via ESPN)
(via ESPN)

On the first play of the following possession, FSU dialed up a downfield pass and Blackman was intercepted on a nice play by Trumaine Washington. Five plays later, the Cardinals were back in the end zone, this time on a 25-yard Dae Williams run.

FSU had its back against the wall, and Blackman responded well. He led his team into Louisville territory and was bailed out by a questionable roughing the passer penalty on 4th and 10 at the Louisville 15. On the next play, FSU handed it to Jacques Patrick, who fumbled as he extended for the goal line. However, Nyqwan Murray fell on the loose ball for an FSU touchdown.

All of a sudden, FSU was feeling good and forced a Louisville three-and-out. With all the momentum on its side, FSU marched down the field and tied the score thanks to Murray again, this time on a nice delivery from Blackman from 20 yards out.

Louisville moved into FSU territory on the ensuing drive, but was stuffed by the Seminoles defense on 4th & 1 from the FSU 27. The Seminoles regained possession with 4:38 to play and advanced to the Louisville 21 thanks to a big pass play to Patrick and a 21-yard Blackman run.

That’s when disaster struck. FSU ran read option and Blackman fumbled it back to Louisville.

From there, Jackson led the Cardinals right down the field, setting up the game-winning 34-yard field goal by Blanton Creque.

The win improved Louisville’s record to 5-3 and was a nice bounceback effort after a rough performance last week against Boston College. But FSU is the bigger story.

At 2-4, it’s going to take a significant turnaround for the Seminoles to reach the postseason. Next week, FSU travels to Boston College, which looks much improved after beating Louisville and destroying five-win Virginia on the road Saturday. FSU, which had a surefire win (UL Monroe) canceled because of Hurricane Irma, has winnable home games against Syracuse (which has a win over Clemson) and FCS Delaware State, but also travels to Clemson and rival Florida.

That’s not an easy stretch and things are very tense in Tallahassee.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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