TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Jameis Winston threw for 273 yards and two touchdowns and led No. 2 Florida State on a second-half comeback to hold off No. 5 Notre Dame, 31-27.
The Irish nearly pulled off the upset, moving to the 2-yard line in the game’s final moments. Everett Golson threw a touchdown pass to Corey Robinson with 13 seconds remaining.
But Notre Dame was called for pass interference when a receiver blocked the defender responsible for Robinson, and the touchdown was erased.
The Irish moved back to fourth and goal from the 18-yard line. Linebacker Jacob Pugh picked off the desperation pass in the back of the end zone.
Golson threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns, but Winston won the duel in the second half as he completed his first 13 passes against a defense that had Florida State flustered for the first 30 minutes. Running back Tarean Folston ran for 120 yards on 21 carries.
“This team has heart, it has soul, it’s a family,” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said after the game. “It believes in each other, it sticks together and there’s something special in this group of guys.”
The Seminoles (7-0, 5-0 ACC) trailed 17-10 at halftime with their season on the line. Notre Dame (6-1) is the last ranked team FSU’s schedule and the win may be its last chance to make a decisive impression on the College Football Playoff selection committee.
Winston, who has been plagued by off-field troubles, prevailed after another week of controversy. Florida State said this week it was investigating whether Winston received benefits for autographs being sold online.
Florida State had protection issues in the first half and Winston never seemed completely comfortable. Fisher said those were cleaned up at halftime and suddenly Winston had room to operate.
The reigning Heisman winner drove the Seminoles to touchdowns on three of their first four drives, each taking a minimum of seven plays. He spread the ball around and hit big plays to receivers Rashad Greene, Travis Rudolph and Jesus Wilson. Even running back Karlos Williams caught a 21-yarder.
Williams called Winston’s work “poetry in motion.”
Before the last Irish drive, Florida State had a chance to ice the game with when it got the ball with 5:12 remaining at its own 7-yard line.
Instead of being aggressive, the Seminoles ran the ball three times and punted. Notre Dame took over on the Florida State 49-yard line with 2:53 remaining.
A third-down sack by FSU linebacker Terrance Smith put Notre Dame in a fourth-and-18 situation with opportunities running thin. Golson made a miraculous play, scrambling around before completing a 20-yard pass to Corey Robinson.
The Irish have games remaining against Arizona State and USC to keep themselves in the running for a playoff berth.