The fourth-ranked Seminoles, playing in their first overtime, were upset by Louisville, 26-20, triggering a wild celebration at Cardinal Stadium that saw both goal posts carried out of the stadium. FSU's national championship hopes were probably carried out along with them.
"I've never been in an overtime game,'' FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. "It feels like when you're playing golf and you're even going into the last hole and you drive it out of bounds.''
While the Seminoles must tee it up again next Thursday at home against Clemson, they were left wondering just what the heck happened against a Louisville team tabbed a 15-point underdog. Louisville's Henry Miller busted through the Seminoles' defense on the Cardinals' first play of overtime, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
"They were ripping the goal posts, ripping my helmet, ripping my head off,'' Louisville quarterback Dave Ragone said.
The game marks the greatest upset in Louisville history. The Cardinals (3-2) were 15-point underdogs and had never beaten a team ranked as high as the Seminoles. FSU (4-1), meanwhile, must win its eight remaining regular-season games to have any chance of earning a spot in the national championship Fiesta Bowl. To do so, the Seminoles must defeat a list of teams that includes top-ranked Miami, No. 7 Florida and No. 10 Notre Dame.
WET NIGHT: The game was played in a steady, if not driving, rain most of th game, thanks to the remnants of Tropical Storm Isidore. Although Bowden would not use the rain as an excuse, Louisville coach John L. Smith disagreed.
"The rain helped us,'' he said. "It was a great equalizer.''
Louisville won the overtime coin flip and allowed the Seminoles to have the ball at the 25. But on the first play, Chris Rix threw a ball that fluttered toward the goal line and was intercepted by Anthony Floyd. Rix was looking for Talman Gardner, who caught both of his touchdown passes.
"When he threw that thing, it was like a dead duck,'' Bowden said. "That's the type of stuff you are scared of in a ballgame like this.''
"The ball hadn't slipped out of Chris' hand the whole game and it happens on the first play of overtime," said FSU running back Nick Maddox.
Said Rix: The ball slipped, and I just lost control of it. I knew that it was behind Talman, and he was going to have to make a great play to catch it."
Louisville, which had 226 of its 303 total yards after halftime, had the luxury of playing for the field goal. But that wasn't needed. Miller was touched coming through the hole but then had a clear path to the goal line. "I just said get the ball and don't let anybody bring you down,'' Miller said. Miller splashed around in the river of water that formed in back of the north end zone. "At that moment, I could have drowned and I would not have cared,'' he said.
BIG EFFORT: Senior defensive end Alonzo Jackson finished with five sacks to tie a school record held by Willie Jones and Ron Simmons.
"I don't know what to say," Jackson said. "I couldn't take him (Dave Ragone) down enough."
TOUGH GOING: The Seminole running game that got off to a huge start in the first two games rushing for 636 yards has stalled. Against Duke FSU managed only 113 yards on the ground and followed that up a meager 129 against Louisville. Powerback Greg Jones was held he check against the Cardinals rushing for only 32 yards on 16 carries (less than two yards per attempt).