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The bowl streak will hang in the balance on Saturday as Florida State plays host to No. 20 Boston College. FSU has reached a bowl in every season since 1982.
After a 4-3 start, the Seminoles have lost three straight games by an average of about 32 points per contest. FSU hasn’t had a loss closer than 19 points since blowing a 20-point lead in a 28-27 loss at Miami on Oct. 6.
To keep the bowl streak alive, FSU will need to score home victories against the Eagles and rival Florida. There have been cases in the recent past where the Seminoles flirted with allowing the bowl streak to come to an end, but always found a way to keep it going.
Here’s a look at three overlooked plays along the way that helped preserve the streak:
Hail Mary Goes Awry
Western Michigan 20, Florida State 28
Nov. 18, 2006
At 5-5 and with two games remaining, the November contest against Western Michigan seemed like a must-win for FSU to go bowling. Things looked well in hand after FSU used an interception return for a touchdown from Lawrence Timmons and a touchdown pass from Xavier Lee to Greg Carr to extend a 1-point lead to 28-13 early in the fourth quarter.
The Broncos however, would not go away. Western Michigan was able to cut the lead to eight with 9:20 left in the game when Ryan Cubit hit Herb Martin for a 10-yard touchdown. With just seconds remaining and FSU nursing a 28-20 lead, the Broncos had one throw into the end zone from the Florida State 30-yard-line. Cubit’s pass floated toward the end line and was caught by FSU cornerback Tony Carter out of bounds to preserve the win and help the Seminoles become bowl-eligible.
Reid’s Big Punt Return
Maryland 26, Florida State 29
Nov. 21, 2009
With a trip to No. 1 Florida looming, Florida State’s home finale against Maryland seemed like a must-win in 2009. The Terrapins were just 2-8 on the year, but thanks largely to three E.J. Manuel interceptions, Maryland led 26-22 with just over two minutes to play. FSU was able to get a timely stop and the Terrapins trotted Nick Ferrara onto the field to punt from near midfield.
Ferrara got away a 44-yard boot, but Florida State’s Greg Reid was able to make things happen with a 48-yard return while weaving in and out of defenders into Maryland territory. Manuel was able to atone for the three turnovers with 35 yards rushing on the first two plays of the ensuing drive. After a short completion to Taiwan Easterling, Lonnie Pryor rushed it in from three yards out for the game-winner with 32 seconds remaining. The contest would serve as the final home game in the legendary careers of FSU head coach Bobby Bowden and defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews.
Murphy Shanks It
Syracuse 24, Florida State 27
Nov. 4, 2017
Most are aware that Florida State won its final four games last season to get bowl-eligible and finish with a winning record for the year. What many may forget is the importance of the first contest in November against Syracuse as the Seminoles sat at just 2-5. FSU led 27-17 in the fourth quarter, but the Orange were able to draw to within three on a quarterback keeper by Eric Dungey.
After Syracuse had forced a punt and with less than two minutes to play, Dungey had managed to move the Orange from inside their own 20 to the FSU 25-yard-line with six seconds to play. The usually reliable Cole Murphy went onto the field to try a 42-yard field goal. Murphy had missed just one kick coming into the game, but went just 1-for-3 on the day as his last-second kick sailed left and the Seminoles prevailed in what would be their third and final ACC win of the season.