Then, the levies broke.
LaMarcus Joyner returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards to the Clemson 10-yardline. Two plays, later, E.J. Manuel found Rashad Greene on a 9-yard touchdown pass.
Three touchdowns later, Florida State owned a commanding 49-31 lead.
"I thought the kickoff return was huge, just a huge momentum swing in the game, really kind of lit a fire for them over there," Dabo Swinney said, after his team dropped to 3-1 [0-1 ACC].
He added, "All the credit goes to Florida State. They're a very good football team. We did a lot of good things, played very well in the first half, played solid in the third quarter. It just kind of got away from us in the fourth quarter. Again, just a couple of momentum plays that really hurt us. "
Manuel finished the night 27 of 35 passing for 380 yards with two touchdowns and 102 yards rushing.
"I thought he competed well. I thought he got them in and out of some plays, like an older, more mature quarterback would do, got them in and out of the right plays. He played good -- I think we helped him, too." - Brent Venables
"I don't remember -- I am going to have to look at the film, but I don't remember him making a bad decision all night. They were mixing up looks and brining blitzes from everywhere and he made plays when he had to." - Jimbo Fisher
"It was pretty obvious we had a hard time stopping them, but that's a definite concern, that and the special teams play." - Swinney
"We've got to get a lot better in a lot of areas. That starts in the run game. We can go back and look at personnel, see what we're asking them to do. There's a lot of things you've got to evaluate -- scheme, personnel, everything." - Venables
"They ran everything we practiced. Towards the end, we gave a few things up. They didn't do any trick plays on us. There's a lot of things, technique-wise, that we just need to watch film on and fix." - Travis Blanks
"I thought our guys competed hard -- I really did, for four quarters, I thought they competed hard. We didn't always coach them good. At times, we didn't play good or smart. I thought our guys fought against a very talented Florida State team where there's not a lot of margin for error." - Venables
"There was a lot that we gave them. There is a lot that we need to improve on." - Blanks
"We're going to have to get a lot better for us to reach our goals for this season, but I think our attitude will give us that opportunity. I really do." - Venables
The kickoff to Joyner
"[Spencer Benton] just didn't hit it good tonight. I made a change and put [Bradley] Pinion in, and Pinion about kicked it into the stands. So, we went right back, and I'll be doggone if he didn't miss hit it. That hasn't been a problem. Then, we don't make the tackle." - Swinney
More from the head coach…
"We felt good at halftime. We talked about, ‘Hey, it's a 0-0 game.' Basically, when you come to a place like this, it's 7-0 when you walk in the stadium. It's kind of like when you come into Death Valley, it's like there's a touchdown on the board already."
"We lost the big play margin and we lost special teams, some big special teams plays. When you can't stop the run, you're going to have a long night against a team like that."
"To play a team at their place, you can't do certain things to help them. We helped them a little bit, in a couple of areas."
"You've got to be able to go on the road and win. We didn't get that done today. We've got another opportunity to go up to Boston College, a place we've only won at one time. We've got to try to get back on track. Obviously, this is a tough loss, because it's a division loss. We don't control our own destiny anymore."