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College Gridiron 365

No. 16 ‘Noles survive Gators in Rivalry’s Highest-Scoring Game

Kevyn Bryant II

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Photo Credit: tallahassee.com

If you didn’t watch the Gators vs Noles game you missed out on this year’s best college football game thus far. This game was an assault of air and rushing attacks on both sides. A truly spectacular performance on both ends from various players.  Third-year Florida State coach Mike Norvell won the first meeting in the rivalry thanks to Travis. The redshirt junior threw for 270 yards and a touchdown, in addition to running for 83 yards and two more touchdowns. Trey Benson scored three times on the ground for the ‘Noles, who won (9-3). Florida’s quarterback  Anthony Richardson was no slouch pulling in 198 Yards, and 3 TDs. Florida’s game was on full display with over 198 total rushing yards for 2 touchdowns; 1 Completed by Etienne and another by Johnson Jr.

Photo Rights Belong to tallahassee.com

Photo Rights Belong to tallahassee.com

In the final minute of Friday night’s 45-38 victory over rival Florida, No. 16 Florida State’s defense came up with a critical fourth-down stop as the crowd at Doak Campbell Stadium roared. Jordan Travis made a number of big plays both through the air and on the ground, as the Seminoles ended their three-game losing streak against the Gators.

With 39 seconds left in the game, Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson’s throw toward the end zone hit the ground, ending Florida State’s possession on downs and bringing an end to the highest-scoring chapter in the heated rivalry’s history. What will be remembered forever are the final drive’s two plays: a fourth-down pass interference against Florida State that allowed the Gators’ comeback, and a missed facemask call on Richardson that cost Florida dearly.

In the first 21 minutes, Richardson threw three touchdowns to help the Gators build a 21-14 lead. However, the redshirt sophomore connected on 11 straight incompletions later in the game. In the third quarter, Florida State forced three consecutive three-and-outs against a Florida team that did not punt in the first half.

Mike Norvell’s first victory in the Florida State–Florida rivalry came thanks to redshirt junior quarterback Travis. Benson added three rushing touchdowns for the Seminoles, who improved to 9-3 with the victory. Benson accounted for 270 yards passing and 83 more yards on the ground and two touchdowns.

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TRAVIS WAS A MAN ON A MISSION

There were a handful of instances in which Travis’ elusive running stood out in a game filled with momentum swings and highlight-reel plays. On a third-and-10 from the Florida 11-yard line in the second quarter, Florida appeared to have sacked Travis for a significant loss. However, Travis retreated 18 yards behind the line of scrimmage as Florida defenders tried to bring him down. He finally reached the end zone after sliding down just shy of it on the next play.

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Despite completing just 13 of 30 passes, Travis came through in a big way late in the game. On third-and-6 with the game tied at 38 in the fourth quarter, Travis found Johnny Wilson for a 21-yard completion to keep the drive alive, which resulted in FSU’s game-winning score.

GOING OUT WITH A BANG.

Florida State began the season 4-0 and climbed to No. 23 in the AP Top 25. Injuries, unfortunately, derailed the ‘Noles. As the pressure mounted on Norvell, the team dropped three straight games. After consecutive losing seasons to begin his tenure, the ‘Noles seemed certain to have trouble just getting to a bowl game in his third year. Since the bye week, which followed a 34-28 loss to Clemson on Oct. 15, the ‘Noles have won five straight games.

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The Seminoles have enjoyed a lot of success over the last month, and much of it has come in a dominant fashion. FSU has won its last four games by an average of 25 points. Florida State’s improvement was on display in a big rivalry game against Florida on Friday, as the Seminoles lost their dominance streak. Florida State can finish with 10 wins for the first time since 2016, when Jimbo Fisher was still the coach, with a bowl win.

GATORS STAYED COMPETITIVE IN OFFENSE

Photo Rights Belong to tallahassee.com

Photo Rights Belong to tallahassee.com

Five Florida wideouts—Ja’Quavion Fraziars, Xzavier Henderson, Justin Shorter, Thai Chiaokhiao-Bowman, and Marcus Burke—were sidelined with injuries, forcing Richardson to rely on a small group of receivers for the game. Despite their absence, Richardson connected with only three players in the passing game, all of whom were returning. With 11:35 left in the second quarter, Richardson caught a 43-yard touchdown pass, establishing a new career-high for yards. He did not make another reception until 4 minutes remained in the game.

Despite this, the Gators still rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter behind a strong running attack. Trevor Etienne had 129 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, including a 45-yard touchdown run that tied the game with 7:41 left in the game. Montrel Johnson Jr. had 85 yards and a touchdown on the ground, while Richardson had 41 yards.

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THIS GAME WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY

This was an amazing back-and-forth game by both teams, that will haunt the Gators all year long and for several years to come. This game should be the last push the Noles needed to get a solid bowl game. What and end to the regular season for Florida sports fans!

College Gridiron 365

Kansas State Triumphs 28-19 Over NC State in Pop-Tarts Bowl Clash

Kevyn Bryant II

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© sportsclubflorida.com | Kevyn Bryant II

Kansas State emerges victorious with a 28-19 win over NC State in the highly anticipated Pop-Tarts Bowl, setting Orlando abuzz with excitement.

Despite a valiant effort in the Pop-Tarts Bowl on Thursday night, the Wolfpack fell short in overcoming an early deficit, succumbing to Kansas State with a final score of 28-19.

The Wolfpack concludes their season with a 9-4 record, narrowly missing the chance to etch their name in school history with only the second 10-win campaign. The elusive feat was last achieved in 2002 with Philip Rivers at the helm, guiding the team to an impressive 11-3 record.

Facing the challenge without their All-America linebacker Payton Wilson, who opted to sit out the game in preparation for the draft, the No. 19 NC State struggled to contain the running game early on. The Pack found themselves in a tough spot as Wildcats quarterback Avery Johnson connected with DJ Giddens for a 37-yard score on fourth down, establishing a 7-0 lead.

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With Wilson absent from the lineup, Kansas State exploited the gap, amassing 258 yards on the ground, with Giddens contributing 151 yards. Despite NC State quarterback Brennan Armstrong’s 31-yard touchdown run against Kansas State on Thursday night, the Wolfpack was unable to seize control, never holding an advantage and only narrowing the gap to a two-point margin.

At the close of the second quarter, Kansas State maintained a lead of 21-7, with the halftime score standing at 21-10. NC State injected some intrigue into the game in the third quarter with a bit of trickery. Trent Pennix’s 60-yard touchdown run off a fake punt reduced the deficit to 21-19 with 1:50 left in the period.

The Wolfpack’s attempt to level the score was thwarted as Armstrong was taken down during the two-point conversion attempt. In his inaugural game as a freshman, quarterback Johnson, stepping in after Will Howard’s departure, threw for 178 yards, ran for an additional 71 yards, and orchestrated a decisive 15-play, 72-yard drive in the fourth quarter.

The game-clinching moment came as Jayce Brown secured an 8-yard TD pass from Johnson with a mere 2:48 left on the clock. Any hopes of a Wolfpack comeback were dashed when Parrish intercepted Armstrong on their subsequent offensive play.

Armstrong’s performance in the final game included running for 121 yards, scoring one touchdown, and passing for 164 yards. The Wildcats of Kansas State concluded the season with a commendable 9-4 record.

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College Gridiron 365

USF Bulls Secure Bowl Glory: Crush Syracuse 45-0

Kevyn Bryant II

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© sportsclubflorida.com | Kevyn Bryant II

In a spectacular display of prowess, the USF football team, under first-year head coach Alex Golesh, ended its season on a high note with a resounding 45-0 victory over Syracuse in the Boca Raton Bowl. The win marked USF’s first bowl victory since 2017 and a significant turnaround, securing a winning record for the first time since 2018.

The Bulls’ defense played a pivotal role in the triumph, forcing four turnovers, including two scoop-and-score touchdowns, and orchestrating their first complete game shutout since 2009. Defensive MVP Daquan Evans led the charge with five tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, and a forced fumble returned for a touchdown. Special Teams MVP Aamaris Brown-Bunkley contributed by returning a botched field goal attempt for a touchdown and adding three tackles.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Byrum Brown, named Offensive MVP, delivered a stellar performance, completing 19 of 26 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns. Brown also showcased his versatility by rushing for a team-best 64 yards on 14 carries and even catching a 21-yard pass from Sean Atkins. Brown became only the second Bull to surpass 4,000 total yards in a season, finishing with 4,101 yards.

Atkins, the Bulls’ first 1,000-yard receiver, secured six passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns. The Bulls’ offensive prowess propelled them to a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter. Brown’s connection with Atkins and a 31-yard touchdown pass to Khafre Brown highlighted the offensive dominance. John Cannon’s 40-yard field goal further extended the lead to 24-0.

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The defense continued its relentless performance, with Evans forcing another fumble, and Tramel Logan returning it 61 yards for a touchdown, making it 31-0 at halftime. USF’s defense held Syracuse to just 159 yards, 10 punts, and a mere nine first downs throughout the game, limiting them to 1-of-17 on third downs.

The second half saw Tavin Ward intercepting Syracuse’s first possession, setting up Brown for a 35-yard touchdown pass to Atkins, further widening the gap to 38-0. Nay’Quan Wright’s two-yard touchdown plunge in the early fourth quarter sealed the deal at 45-0.

The victory marked USF’s largest margin of victory in a bowl game and its fourth bowl win against an autonomous “power” conference program. The Bulls outgained Syracuse 407 to 159, with notable individual achievements from Brown, Atkins, and Logan.

Looking ahead, USF has already welcomed 25 new recruits on the first day of the NCAA Early Signing period, securing a top-class ranking in The American and among non-autonomous “power” programs. The Bulls will shift their focus to spring practice in March, building on the momentum gained from their outstanding Boca Raton Bowl triumph.

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College Gridiron 365

USF Bulls Secure Bowl Berth with Dominant Victory Over Charlotte

Kevyn Bryant II

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© sportsclubflorida.com | Kevyn Bryant II

In a triumphant display on Senior Night at Raymond James Stadium, the USF football team (6-6; 4-4 American) punched their ticket to the postseason, securing a resounding 48-14 victory over Charlotte (3-9; 2-6 American). The Bulls celebrated not only the achievements of 16 seniors but also the program’s 11th bowl berth, marking the end of a drought since 2018.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Byrum Brown led the charge with another stellar performance, throwing for 253 yards and four touchdowns. Brown’s remarkable day also included 43 yards rushing and a touchdown, making him the first Bull to surpass 3,000 passing yards in a season, with his 2023 total reaching an impressive 3,078.

A standout throughout the season, wide receiver Sean Atkins continued his impressive run, logging his seventh-straight game with seven or more receptions. Atkins made seven grabs for 61 yards and a touchdown. Notably, he also showcased his versatility by throwing a 62-yard touchdown pass, becoming the first Bull since 1998 to both catch and throw a touchdown in a single game.

Running back Michel Dukes contributed significantly to the offensive prowess, running for a career-best 104 yards on 15 carries. The Bulls’ offensive excellence was complemented by a robust defensive effort that saw Logan Berryhill securing his third interception of the season, while Mac Harris and Daquan Evans notched their first interceptions.

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Jhalyn Shuler and D.J. Harris led the defensive charge with nine tackles each, playing a crucial role in holding Charlotte to less than 300 yards of offense and forcing three turnovers.

The turning point in the game came just 20 seconds into the second half when Brown connected with Jaden Alexis on a deep pass. Alexis, in a spectacular display of skill, spun his defender around and zigzagged for a 60-yard touchdown, giving USF a commanding 28-7 lead.

Although Charlotte managed a response with a 47-yard touchdown pass to Jairus Mack, the Bulls remained undeterred. Brown orchestrated a drive resulting in a field goal and followed it up with a daring onside kick, which USF successfully recovered at their own 46. Brown then capped off the drive with a 35-yard touchdown run, extending the lead to 38-14.

As the Bulls continued to dominate, John Cannon added his second field goal of the day, and USF entered the fourth quarter with a commanding 41-14 lead. The victory marked a five-win turnaround from the previous year, the largest in program history, and a return to the bowl season for the Bulls.

Reflecting on the game and the historic season turnaround, USF fans began to celebrate a bright future for their football program. The Bulls now eagerly await the official announcement of their bowl destination on December 3, savoring the prospect of postseason action for the first time in five seasons.

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