The Cougars, clearly more fired up about playing in the Peach than FSU, won 38-24 for their 13th win of the year (13-1). Houston took a 21-3 first-half lead, then held off the Seminoles for the win. FSU, which won a national title two years ago and reached the playoffs last year, was never able to figure out the Houston defense.
Houston’s rushing defense erased the Seminoles’ star running back Dalvin Cook from the game. He managed only 38 yards on 18 carries.
“We didn’t block them,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “It was nothing we haven’t seen. They beat us on the blocks, and when we blocked them, they were able to tackle well. We need to control the line of scrimmage better.”
That left the FSU offense in the hands of quarterback Sean Maguire, but he, too, had a rough afternoon. Maguire was injured in the first quarter, but came back and threw for 392 yards and two scores. However, he also threw four interceptions and leaves a question mark for FSU going into spring practice.
Cougars quarterback Greg Ward had 234 yards passing and 67 yards rushing.
FSU receiver Travis Rudolph had seven catches for 201 yards.
FSU scored to come within 31-24 with 4:55 to play, but Houston’s Ryan Jackson scored to close out the game.
The Seminoles finished their season 10-3.