MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – There was a thought by some fans headed into today’s Orange Bowl, however small, that the undefeated Florida State Seminoles could hang with the Georgia Bulldogs, the two-time defending national champions, and even potentially win the game. It was a nice thought. However, that was not the case as the Bulldogs defeated the Seminoles in dominating fashion, 63-3.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart spoke after the game about the win and how the culture of Georgia contributed.
“The game mattered because we’re playing a game,” said Smart. “As long as winning matters we’re going to compete like hell at Georgia. It doesn’t matter who it is. Number two, we gave them about five things and we looked at them each day before practice, and there were five notes on there, and one of them was the senior class turning 49 to 50, and these two guys right here were a big part of it. They’re tremendous parts of our culture, and all games matter if you’re playing a game.”
Headed into this game, most people did not give Florida State a chance against this powerhouse Georgia team, which angered some fans as the Seminoles finished the regular season undefeated, with some believing that they should’ve gotten one of the four spots in the College Football Playoff. However, they did not. So, in part, due to that and injuries, some Florida State players opted out of playing in the bowl game. Along with multiple players entering the transfer portal ahead of the game. By kickoff, the Seminoles were missing at least 12 starters across their offense and defense.
For the first three drives of this game, it looked like the game might be more competitive than most people thought, with a punt from Florida State, followed by a turnover on downs from Georgia and another punt from Florida State. At the 6:45 mark of the first quarter, the score was 0-0. The most optimistic Seminoles fans were able to convince themselves that this would be a competitive game. And then, Georgia decided to assert their will and remind everyone who they are.
Georgia went on a six-play, 69-yard drive that took 2:40 and was capped off by a 15-yard run by running back Kendall Milton. After taking a 7-0 lead, they never looked back.
After (stop me if you heard this before) another Florida State punt, Georgia went on a six play, 82-yard drive that ended in another touchdown run by Milton, this time for five yards after he had a 43-yard run the play before.
Florida State did show a bit of life though when they went on a six-play, 71-yard drive that was capped off by a 22-yard field goal from kicker Ryan Fitzgerald. The drive was highlighted by a beautiful 55-yard throw and catch from quarterback Brock Glenn to wide receiver Kentron Poitier. Florida State was able to get to the Georgia four-yard line but couldn’t finish. With the field goal, they cut the Georgia lead to 14-3 but even then, at the 12:34 left in the second quarter, it felt like the Seminoles needed to get a touchdown there to even have a chance in this game. But from that point on, any thoughts that Florida State fans had that the Seminoles could make this a competitive Orange Bowl, were completely extinguished.
Georgia went on a four-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 15-yard touchdown run by running back Daijun Edwards that gave the Bulldogs a 21-3 lead. The drive was highlighted by a beautiful 31-yard pass down the left sideline from Georgia quarterback Carson Beck to wide receiver Dillon Bell.
Things went from bad to worse for the Seminoles on the kickoff when returner Deuce Spann fumbled the kickoff and it was recovered by Georgia wide receiver Cole Speer on the Florida State 27-yard line. On the first play, Georgia wide receiver Ladd McConkey ran the ball across the field for a 27-yard touchdown to increase their lead to 28-3. That drive took 13 seconds.
On their last three drives of the first half, Florida State turned the ball over on each of the drives. And, all in different ways, so there’s that. Once, a turnover on downs after they failed to convert a 4th & 6, a fumble by Glenn on a sack and then an interception by Glenn to end the half. Conversely, Georgia scored on every one of their following drives and went into halftime with a 42-3 lead. That was the end of the night for most of the Georgia starters after that dominating performance.
In the second half, Georgia put in their backups and they continued the domination, scoring three touchdowns to push the final score to 63-3.
Beck led Georgia in passing, completing 13-18 passes for 203 yards and two touchdown passes. Milton led the team in rushing with nine carries for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Edwards also added two rushing touchdowns. Bell led the team in receiving with five receptions for 86 yards. All in all, Georgia had seven different players score touchdowns.
Glenn led the Seminoles in passing, completing 9-26 passes for 139 yards and two interceptions. Wide receiver Ja’Khi Douglas led the team in rushing, with eight carries for 46 yards and Poitier led the team in receiving with four receptions for 84 yards.
After the game, an emotional Florida State head coach, Mike Norvell, spoke about the loss and what he called “the most challenging month I’ve ever had in my coaching career.” After not being selected for the College Football Playoff, he ended with a strong message about adversity.
“There are going to be times in life where you do all the things right and it doesn’t go your way,” said Norvell. “Maybe you’re not selected where you want to be selected. Maybe you’re not chosen. Maybe you find unexpected adversity. But it’s the response that’s going to showcase the identity of who you are and what you’re about.” He added, “it didn’t go obviously anywhere near the way we wanted it to, but there will be experiences that we learn from tonight that will build individuals and collectively a group as we move forward.”
While Florida State’s season didn’t end like they wanted it to, given all that they’ve had to endure over the last several seasons, along with the strides they made as a team this season, they will rebound from this loss.
As for Georgia, they showed tonight why they’ve won the last two college football national championships and why next year, when the field expands to 12 teams, they’ll likely be in that group of teams competing for a national championship.
Written by Erik Slaby