MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Renegade, the horse that serves as Florida State’s mascot, took an uncharacteristic tumble while prancing on the field before kickoff.
The horse got up and was just fine.
Hours later, Florida State collapsed — and like Renegade, recovered with a flourish.
Deondre Francois’ 12-yard touchdown pass to Nyquan Murray with 36 seconds left put No. 10 Florida State ahead for good, and the Seminoles topped No. 6 Michigan 33-32 in a frantic, down-to-the-wire Orange Bowl on Friday night. It capped a simply wild final few minutes of a game that Florida State controlled most of the way before needing a rally in the final moments.
“The character on this team,” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. “I’ve said it before. I’m as proud of this team as any I’ve coached.”
Dalvin Cook rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown for Florida State (10-3), which led 17-3 and 20-6 early — and was up by 12 midway through the fourth quarter before falling behind. Francois completed only 9 of 27 passes but made the most of them, throwing for 222 yards and connecting with Murray for two scores.
“There’s no team in the country like this team,” Seminoles offensive lineman Alec Eberle said.
Chris Evans had a 30-yard touchdown run and Khalid Hill an 8-yard scoring catch in the final minutes for Michigan (10-3), which also got a defensive conversion when Josh Metellus ran a blocked extra point back after the second Francois-Murray TD.
But Michigan turned the ball over on its final possession, and the Seminoles held on to win after the teams combined for 23 points and two lead changes in the final 5:22.
“I love them. Love these guys,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “Great group of competitors, great group of workers, and a great group of guys that find a way.”
Well, almost, in this case.
The Wolverines played without Heisman Trophy finalist Jabrill Peppers, their do-everything guy who couldn’t go because of a bad left hamstring, and lost standout tight end Jake Butt to what was believed to be a serious knee injury in the second quarter.
Wilton Speight was 21 for 38 passing for 163 yards for Michigan, which got a 14-yard interception return from Mike McCray for a touchdown.
Florida State was in total control, but the game turned midway through the fourth when Trey Marshall was ejected for targeting on a punt return — giving Michigan a short field on which to start its comeback.
Marshall missed an amazing finish.
“Best game of my life,” Cook said.
Hill’s scoring grab was Michigan’s first offensive TD of the night, and Evans’ run with 1:57 left gave the Wolverines their first lead.
It lasted 81 seconds.
“Coach Harbaugh kept saying it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen, just stay patient,” Speight said. “And I think before that drive that we scored, he basically just said now is the time. We were able to capitalize and almost pull it out.”
Florida State’s Keith Gavin swung momentum back to the Seminoles with a 66-yard kickoff return right up the middle — setting up the drive where his team would take the lead for good.
Francois lobbed one up perfectly for Murray, and the Seminoles escaped.
“This game here took so many turns,” Cook said. “But we kept fighting … and things turned our way.”
NO. 16 STANFORD 25, NORTH CAROLINA 23
EL PASO, Texas — Bryce Love took over for the absent Christian McCaffrey in the Stanford backfield, running for 119 yards and catching a 49-yard touchdown pass to help the Cardinal beat North Carolina.
Stanford (10-3) held on after North Carolina (8-5) pulled within two with 25 seconds left on Mitch Trubisky’s 2-yard pass to Bug Howard, sacking Trubisky on the 2-point conversion try.
McCaffrey skipped the bowl game to focus on his NFL career.
Stanford took a 25-17 lead on Conrad Ukropina’s 27-yard field goal with 3:23 left. North Carolina was forced to punt on its next series, but used two timeouts to get the ball back.
After taking over at their own 3, the Tar Heels drove 97 yards in 10 plays and 1:11. After competing passes of 44 and 27 yards, Trubisky capped the drive with the 2-yard scoring pass to Howard.
Stanford then sacked Trubisky on the 2-point try, a rush led by Solomon Thomas forcing the quarterback to retreat before being taken down. Thomas was selected the game’s MVP.
Stanford safety Dallas Lloyd intercepted two of Trubisky’s passes, returning the second 19 yards for a touchdown to give Stanford a 22-17 lead early in the fourth quarter.
MUSIC CITY BOWL
TENNESSEE 38, NO. 24 NEBRASKA 24
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Joshua Dobbs ran for three touchdowns and 118 yards and threw for 291 yards and another score in Tennessee’s victory over Nebraska.
The Volunteers (9-4) beat a Big Ten team in a bowl for the third straight year and notched their first win in three tries against the Cornhuskers. It’s the first time Tennessee has won three straight bowls since 1994-1996 when Peyton Manning was quarterback for the Vols.
Tennessee took a 14-0 lead in the second quarter and outgained Nebraska 521-318 in total offens.
Nebraska (9-4) ended the season with two straight losses. The Cornhuskers lost four of their final six after rising as high as No. 7 in the rankings.
Ryker Fyfe, the fifth-year former walk-on started for injured quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. He pulled Nebraska within a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Fyfe threw two TD passes to Brandon Reilly and ran for a 9-yard TD with 10:02 left in the fourth to pull the Cornhuskers within 31-24.
Dobbs answered with a 59-yard TD pass to Josh Malone for the final margin.
GEORGIA 31, TCU 23
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Nick Chubb ran for 142 yards and a touchdown, sending Georgia past TCU for the Bulldogs’ third bowl victory in three years.
Georgia (8-5) sent TCU (6-7) to its third losing year in Gary Patterson’s 16 full seasons as coach.
Rodrigo Blankenship put Georgia ahead for good with 13:27 left on a 30-yard field goal. Blankenship’s kick was set up by Chubb’s 48-yard burst on the final play of the third period.
Brandon Hatfield was wide right on a 47-yard field goal attempt that would have put TCU ahead with 7:57 remaining. He earlier missed a 41-yard field goal and an extra point.
Jacob Eason threw touchdown passes to Javon Wims and Sony Michel. Isaiah McKenzie had four catches for 103 yards, including a 77-yarder that set up a touchdown. Trenton Thompson recorded three sacks for Georgia and was named the game’s most valuable player.
AIR FORCE 45, SOUTH ALABAMA 21
TUCSON, Ariz. — Arion Worthman threw for 207 yards to balance out Air Force’s run-heavy offense, Jacobi Owens scored two touchdowns and the Falcons overcame a sluggish start to beat South Alabama.
Air Force (10-3) struggled to get its triple-option going, falling into an 18-point first-half hole. Once the Falcons got rolling, they couldn’t be stopped, scoring 42 straight points to turn it into a rout.
Worthman was the trigger, jump-starting Air Force’s option while completing 7 of 10 passes, including a 75-yard touchdown to Jalen Robinette to open the second half. He also had 71 yards on 21 carries.
South Alabama (6-7) appeared to be headed toward its first bowl win after jumping on the Falcons early, starting with Dallas Davis’ 75-yard touchdown pass to Josh Magee on the game’s first play.
The Jaguars couldn’t sustain their early offensive success or stop the Falcons to lose a bowl game for the second time in three seasons. Davis threw for 245 yards and a touchdown, but also had an interception and lost a fumble. Magee had five catches for 154 yards.