TAMPA, Fla.-For the second time in as many weeks Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher learned a little something about his team's resolve.
On a night when neither the Seminoles' offense or defense had it's A-game, it was the defense that clamped down in the second half as No. 4 FSU held on for a 30-17 win over South Florida in Raymond James Stadium.
USF cut the lead to just three points after a blocked punt lead to a 1-yard score early in the third quarter, but after that possession FSU (5-0, 2-0 ACC) held the Bulls (2-3, 0-1 Big East) to just 98 yards of total offense in the final 26:55 of the game.
"Every game doesn't go as planned," said redshirt junior defensive tackled Demonte McAllister. "Somebody is going to come out and it's going to change and you've just got to see what your plan B is and we had a great plan B and we just came out and just kept focusing and giving it our all."
USF finished the game with 268 yards of total offense, 125 on the ground and 143 through the air. In the first half the Bulls were able to keep the FSU offense off the field with three straight drives of at least eight plays or more to open the game.
Despite the long drives the Bulls were only able to put three points on the board, and a B.J. Daniels interception by Xavier Rhodes led to a 43-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins just before the half for a 10-3 FSU lead.
The Bulls cut the Seminoles' lead to 13-10 with 11:55 left in the third quarter on a one-yard touchdown run by Daniels. The score was setup by a blocked FSU punt by Tashon Whitehurst, who recovered the ball at the eight-yard line.
After the score the Bulls had minus-7 yards on their next three possessions combined.
"Just recognizing what they were doing,"Cornelius Carradine said of the second half turnaround. "We expected a lot of trick plays at first but they just came out and ran their offense, so we were able to adjust to it and everything and we just all came together and said we can't let them get any more."
Daniels, who hurt FSU with a number of big plays in a 2009 17-7 USF victory in Tallahassee, was kept in check for much of the night. He completed just 17 of 33 pass attempts for 143 yards and an interception. On the ground Daniels was able to do some damage as he rushed for 72 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
"A couple times he got out of the pocket but we were able to get back in the second half and make sure he didn't escape anymore," said Carraidne who had a team-high nine tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
On the final play of the third quarter the defense took control of the game for good as Carradine came unblocked to hit backup quarterback Matt Floyd (who was only in the game because Daniels helmet came off on the previous play) and force a fumble.
Junior linebacker Christian Jones scooped the fumble and returned it 12 yards for a 30-10 FSU advantage. USF was able to answer the defensive score with a 73-yard scoring drive, but failed to put any points on the board the rest of the way.
"The defense came out and started dominating, got settled down," Fisher said. "Playing too loose in the beginning, too much man and not throwing some zone coverage. I think they settled down and got their feet on the ground and did much better and we were able to get a couple drives (on offense)."
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