Column

Florida State still living on the edge of College Football Playoff

Unbeaten Seminoles pull out another squeaker, continuing a season-long pattern

It is not a question of "if" anymore in Tallahassee, it's a question of "how."

As in, "How in the world are they doing this?"

The Florida State Seminoles pulled out another squeaker Saturday, needing Roberto Aguayo's 26-yard field goal to eke out a 20-17 home victory against Boston College.

It wasn't pretty, or convincing, but put it down as a "W."

No. 3 Florida State improved to 11-0 and stayed alive in the four-team playoff chase with its 27th consecutive victory.

The Seminoles are defending national champions but are playing a completely different brand of football from 2013, when they dominated every regular-season opponent on their way to a title-game victory over Auburn.

This year's Florida State is living on the edge.

To recap: The Seminoles needed overtime to defeat Clemson, a pass-interference call to defeat Notre Dame and also rallied after trailing North Carolina State, Louisville and Miami.

Florida State is sidling up to some of the best miracle-worker teams of the early century.

Ohio State's 2002 national title won six games by seven points or fewer before beating Miami, in double overtime, for the national title.

Ohio State's biggest white-knuckle moment required a fourth-down conversion to defeat Purdue, 10-6.

Auburn's 2010 squad won five games by three points or fewer in a season that ended with a last-second win over Oregon in the BCS title game. Early that year, Auburn survived with a three-point win in overtime after a Clemson receiver dropped what should have been the winning touchdown.

Auburn also rallied from a 24-0 deficit to defeat Alabama.

Two more teams get a crack to dislodge Florida State this year: Florida next week, and then Georgia Tech in the ACC title game.

A flash for Gordon

Some records can last two or three lifetimes. Cy Young's 511 pitching victories won't be surpassed this century, or likely any another, while Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak has held up since 1941.

Since 1951, three NFL quarterbacks named Manning, among many others, have yet to surpass Norm Van Brocklin's single-game passing mark of 554 yards.

So what about Wisconsin tailback Melvin Gordon's single-game rushing record?

Oh … that lasted a week.

Gordon, who ran for 408 yards last week against Nebraska, watched his mark fall Saturday when Oklahoma freshman Samaje Perine rushed for 427 yards in the Sooners' victory over Kansas in Norman.

Perine become the first major college player to rush for at least 200 yards in the first and second halves.

Conditions were ripe as Oklahoma, playing without injured quarterback Trevor Knight, hosted porous Kansas on a rainy day in Norman.

Gordon didn't have time to mope over losing the record he held for hours, as Wisconsin needed his full attention in a two-point win over Iowa. Gordon was held to less of half of last week's 408 total, but still finished with 200 yards in 31 carries, going over 2,000 for the season.

Wake-me time

The worst game in modern college history is generally considered to be the scoreless tie in 1983 between Oregon and Oregon State.

At least the fans of that game, known as "The Toilet Bowl," were spared the additional agony of overtime.

That stinker may have met its match Saturday when Wake Forest needed double overtime to upset Virginia Tech, 6-3.

The game was scoreless after regulation and mercifully ended on Mike Weaver's 39-yard field goal.

"We put offensive football back a hundred years," Wake Forest Coach Dave Clawson said.

It was the first scoreless game to be settled in overtime since 2005, when Arkansas State clipped Florida Atlantic, 3-0.

Virginia Tech fell to 5-6 with the defeat, which was not appreciated in Columbus, Ohio, where Ohio State is trying to state its playoff case despite a home loss to Virginia Tech.

The Hokies, 13 1/2-point favorites against Wake Forest, could take solace knowing their upset wasn't even the worst on campus Saturday.

Virginia Tech's basketball team, as an 18-point favorite, lost at home to Appalachian State.

Old schools

Harvard and Lafayette celebrated nice wins in rivalry games that predate the Spanish-American War.

Harvard's Scott Peters intercepted a late pass to clinch a 31-24 home win over arch-rival Yale in the 131st meeting of the schools. Harvard won its eighth straight in the series to cap a 10-0 season.

In a lesser-known — but even older — rivalry, Ross Scheuerman rushed for 304 yards and scored three touchdowns to lead Lafayette to a 27-7 win over Lehigh. The game was played in Yankee Stadium to commemorate the 150th meeting of the two Pennsylvania schools.

The announced attendance was 48,256, incredible for a lower-level game involving schools with losing records.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
66°