Charlotte — These short takes are presented as a companion to the ACC championship game column, which can be found on myajc. Florida State beat Georgia Tech 37-35 and will surely make the College Football Playoff.
1. Even in losing, the Jackets made Florida State play its cleanest game of the season. The Seminoles made no turnovers and punted only twice. They gained 488 yards, and it wasn’t all Jameis Winston throwing. (Although he did complete 21 of 30 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns.) Freshman back Dalvin Cook rushed for 177 yards and was named the game’s MVP, and his 10-yard burst inside the final minute sealed the game. And still FSU, even after intercepting a Justin Thomas pass with 3:22 remaining and a nine-point lead, could never quite shake the Jackets. Had Tech fielded an onside kick with 1:46 remaining, the ACC might well have a different champion.
2. The Tech defense slowed the Seminoles in the second half but never quite stopped them. Through its six-game winning streak, the Jackets had feasted on turnovers. Florida State made none. Winston, who’d thrown 17 interceptions in 12 regular-season games and four last week against Florida, delivered only one pass that Tech had a slight chance of snagging, and Cook’s surges lent the ‘Noles a balance that Tech couldn’t solve. Florida State punted on its first series and its next-to-last. In between it went touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, field goal, field goal, field goal.
3. The Jackets scored 21 points on their first three possessions; they scored only seven on their next five. That was the difference. In such a game, holding serve was essential. Tech missed its turn near the end of the second quarter, enabling the Seminoles to take a 28-21 lead. The Jackets would eventually tie the game, but they’d never again lead. A failure on fourth-and-5 from the Tech 47 with 7:23 remaining — Justin Thomas overthrew Darren Waller, who ran a different route that the quarterback was expecting — led to the FSU field goal that made it a nine-point game.