Week 12 takeaways: FSU keeps winning and it doesn't matter how

BY Bruce Feldman • November 16, 2014

Another week, another frenetic FSU comeback as the defending national champs just won't stay down no matter how supposedly on the ropes they may look.

Against arch-rival Miami, the Noles rallied from 16 points down to win 30-26, extending their winning streak to 26 games. True freshman RB Dalvin Cook, a Miami native, once again was a hero for the Noles, scoring two TDs while gaining 92 yards on just seven carries. Two weeks ago, Cook rushed for 110 yards to help bail the Noles out of a 21-0 deficit at Louisville.

The rally has become something of a standard operating procedure for Jimbo Fisher's team. Last year, they won the BCS title game after being down 21-3 against Auburn. Since then, FSU overcame a 17-10 fourth-quarter deficit versus Clemson; a 24-7 hole against NC State; and a 27-24 fourth-quarter deficit against Notre Dame.

The Noles got into a deep hole after the Canes scored on four of their first five drives, but FSU held UM to just three points on their final eight possessions. Nole DB Jalen Ramsey seemed to be everywhere, breaking up four passes, intercepting another, forcing a fumble, making a tackle for loss and blocking a kick.

Jameis Winston, again, overcame a shaky first half, where he was just 11-of-20 with one INT, and while he was much better in the second half, he also benefitted from a major break when they were down by 13 in the third quarter. A pass in the Red Zone was deflected up in the air by Miami defender Tyriq McCord, but FSU RB Karlos Williams caught the carom and strolled into the end zone as the young UM team, led by true freshman QB Brad Kaaya, appeared to tighten as the Noles cranked up the heat.

FSU clinched the ACC Atlantic division title earlier in the day with Clemson’s loss and now, with Mississippi State losing at Alabama, are the lone undefeated team remaining from a Power 5 conference. The close win against the unranked Canes still may not vault the Noles into the No. 1 spot in the playoff rankings Tuesday, but as long as FSU keeps finding ways to avoid getting knocked off, it really doesn't matter much.

MORE FROM WEEK 12

Stock Up: Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin. Not only did the Badgers star break LaDainian Tomlinson's FBS rushing record for most yards in a game (406, set in 1999), Gordon only needed three quarters to do it, dashing for 408. He also broke the record against what had been a pretty stout D. Nebraska came into the game ranked No. 19 in the country against the run and hadn't allowed any RB more than 128 yards all season.

Stock Dow: Dak Prescott, Mississippi State. The dual-threat QB was in the top two for the Heisman but had been starting to struggle of late. After throwing just two INTs in MSU's first five games, Prescott, who threw three picks against Bama Saturday, has now thrown eight in the last five games and has fallen out of the Heisman mix.

My current Heisman top five: 1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon; 2) Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin; 3) J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State; 4) Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama; 5) Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana.

Best Win: Arkansas over LSU. Arkansas finally won an SEC game under Bret Bielema by dominating No. 17 LSU, 17-0. The Hogs, who are now just one win away from bowl eligibility after going 3-9 last season, held the Tigers to just 123 total yards.

Worst Loss: Auburn at Georgia. Not a lot of shame losing at Georgia, but 34-7? It was the worst offensive performance by the Tigers in the Gus Malzahn era. Auburn had just 292 yards and turned it over three times against a D that two weeks earlier allowed over 400 rushing yards against Florida. This loss comes on the heels of Auburn losing at home to Texas A&M, a 23-point underdog.

Coach of the Day: Pat Fitzgerald. Northwestern rallied from an 11-point deficit at Notre Dame to win 43-40 in OT, keeping the Wildcats’ (4-6) bowl hopes alive. It was Northwestern's first overtime win since 2007. The Wildcats had lost their previous five OT games before taking the Irish.

One Thing Nobody’s Talking About: Utah State, despite losing star QB Chuckie Keeton early in the season, is now 8-3 and has won four in a row. Matt Wells' team has won games relying on four different starting QBs and have had five different players throw at least two TD passes.

Bruce Feldman is a senior college football reporter and columnist for FOXSports.com and FOX Sports 1. He is also a New York Times Bestselling author. His new book, The QB: The Making of Modern Quarterbacks, came out in October, 2014. Follow him on Twitter @BruceFeldmanCFB.


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