Third-ranked Clemson trailed Florida State 28-20 entering the fourth quarter on Saturday, but showed its mettle late in a 37-34 come from behind win to stun the Seminoles in Doak Campbell Stadium. Cook rushed for 169 yards and four scores on 19 carries, most of it during a second-half surge that helped FSU overcome a 17-14 halftime deficit.
"That game was a heavyweight fight".
"It wasn't flawless, but we're 8-0 and we were at our best when we needed to be", Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told ABC.
Cook is a game-changer, and always seems to break off a big touchdown run in every one of Florida State's games.
Deshaun Watson isn't one to rank wins very often, but the Clemson quarterback acknowledged Monday that beating Florida State in Tallahassee, Florida, was a pretty big deal to even the stoic Watson. "We still had chances in the game to win after that, but it is ridiculous". People want to bring up the negative things because they can't find anything else negative going on.
"I think it's great for his growth as a quarterback, his development", Swinney said.
For all of Cook's heroics, though, it was a run that didn't count that had Fisher fuming after the game. Florida State's Dalvin Cook dashed 43 yards for a score on the next play as the Seminoles took their first lead of the game, 21-20. The ACC officiating crew ruled a chop block on Freddie Stevenson and negated the run. Five of Clemson's eight games have been decided by a touchdown or less, and it is 16-2 in that scenario since 2011.
Clemson (8-0, 5-0) survived all right.
"That was a huge call in the game", Fisher said.
The drama, however, was far from finished. Clemson finishes ACC play at Wake Forest, which has not beaten the Tigers since 2008.
But Watson was not done, delivering the crucial two-point conversion pass to Mike Williams to give the Tigers a three-point lead. "I thought we played much better two years ago, but we lost (23-17 in overtime)". The Noles were called for two pre-snap penalties with the clock stopped and the drive ended on the ensuing third and fourth downs thanks to sacks of FSU QB Deondre Francois.
"When we gave up sacks, that's mostly because we beat ourselves".
"We haven't won a championship yet and we've got things to clean up", Scott said.
Francois was sacked six times while absorbing several heavy hits.
A turning point came with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Seminoles ahead 28-26. You could really mix and match them any way you see fit and not be wrong.
In all, FSU had 13 penalties for 111 yards. Stats & Information offered a marvelous measure of Clemson's ability to pull out these tight wins: Since 2011, the Tigers hold an almost-inconceivable 18-2 record in one-possession games. "It's hard to win, especially against these guys, and especially back to back". "We had a couple of lulls, but when we needed to make plays we got them".
Nyqwan Murray barely saw any action early.
Francois struggled as well, completing just two of six passes in the quarter for 12 yards. Florida State also had success generating pressure, but the more seasoned Watson was able to make a few more plays than Francois, a redshirt freshman, with his improvisational skills. Jordan Leggett had five catches for 122 yards.
"(The defense) had their moments", Fisher said. Whitfield had only had two other games this season with more than 50 yards receiving.