Instant analysis: FSU 30, USF 17
September, 29, 2012
By David M. Hale | ESPN.com
TAMPA, Fla. -- It lacked the emotion of last week's win over Clemson or the style points that underscored Florida State's early season dominance, but the Seminoles remained unbeaten and earned a touch of retribution for a 2009 loss to USF, defeating the Bulls 30-17 Saturday.
EJ Manuel completed 19 of 26 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown, while the Florida State defense had two takeaways that keyed the win.
It was over when: B.J. Daniels felt the pressure and tossed a fourth-down pass out of bounds with 2:18 remaining in the game. USF battled throughout, largely stifling the high-powered FSU offense in the second half, but Daniels couldn't solve the Florida State defense.
Game ball goes to: Cornellius Carradine. The FSU defensive end had a monster game, leading the Seminoles with nine tackles, including 1.5 sacks. His devastating hit on USF backup quarterback Matt Floyd forced a fumble that Christian Jones scooped up for a touchdown. On a night when the FSU offense struggled to find its footing, Carradine's forced fumble provided the turning point.
Stat of the game: 183. That's the total rushing yardage for FSU -- a solid effort but well off the big numbers the Seminoles had been posting through the first four games of the season. Meanwhile the Bulls defensive front failed to make a single tackle behind the line of scrimmage in a loss to Ball State last week, but USF turned up the pressure and gave FSU's revamped offensive line its first real test of the season. The results were mixed. The Seminoles mustered just enough to win, but Chris Thompson, James Wilder Jr. and the running game took a big step back from the huge numbers they'd posted against Clemson.
Unsung hero: Xavier Rhodes. The FSU cornerback picked off a Daniels' pass late in the first half to set up a Dustin Hopkins field goal. Rhodes was exceptional in coverage throughout the game, holding USF's big-play receiver Andre Davis to just one catch for 3 yards.
What it means: It was a classic trap game for Florida State, which just won an emotional victory against Clemson last week and was making its first road trip of the season. The Seminoles certainly didn't look sharp, particularly early on, but they managed to sneak past USF to remain unbeaten and earn a small bit of retribution for the 17-7 loss it suffered at the hands of the Bulls in 2009. Jimbo Fisher is now 5-0 career against in-state rivals. Meanwhile, USF falls to 2-3 but its defense turned in a far more impressive effort than it had a week earlier, giving coach Skip Holtz some cause for optimism as the Bulls turn their focus toward Big East play.