TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — For a few seconds, it looked as if Everett Golson and Notre Dame had another streak-busting victory, this time against the reigning national champions from Florida State.
As the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish celebrated an apparent go-ahead touchdown with 13 seconds left, flags flew.
The call: offensive pass interference. The touchdown was gone.
Golson’s last pass was nowhere close, and Notre Dame was done. After leading for most of the game, the Irish lost 31-27 to No. 2 Florida State on Saturday night.
Golson was 31 for 52 for 313 yards and three touchdowns, an effort worthy of keeping him in the Heisman Trophy discussion. And Notre Dame will likely stay in contention for the College Football Playoff if it keeps winning. But ultimately Jameis Winston and the Seminoles had just enough to remain unbeaten and run their winning streak to 23.
On its last drive, Notre Dame faced fourth-and-18 from its 43 after a sack by Terrance Smith. Golson bought a little time, rolled right and found Corey Robinson right at that first down marker for a first down, silencing the Florida State crowd for a moment.
Golson did it again with a 17-yard pass to Will Fuller that gave the Irish a first down at the 20. Then a Golson run up the middle made it first-and-goal Irish at the 8 with 45 second left.
Florida State shut down a screen on first down and broke up a slant on second. Golson faced a huge blitz and complete to Prosise for 6. On fourth-and-ballgame, Golson found Robinson all by himself, but flags flew as the Irish celebrated, and the crowd exploded when pass interference was called on C.J. Prosise, who locked up Florida State safety Jalen Ramsey in the end zone, helping Robinson get free.
After the last Irish play misfired, Winston took a knee to end it.
Notre Dame has a long history of snapping winning streaks, including Oklahoma’s NCAA record 47-game winning streak back in 1957.
Florida State’s streak was modest by comparison, but still the best in the nation. As the Irish harassed Winston with defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder’s blitzes and the Notre Dame offensive line opened up running lanes in Florida State’s defense in the first half, it looked as if ’Noles streak might become seventh of at least 20 games to be halted by the Irish
But the Seminoles had Winston. The Heisman winner showed off his NFL arm on Florida State’s first drive of the second half, driving the ’Noles to a tying touchdown on 10-yard slant to Rashad Greene.
Golson and the Irish’s response: an 83-yard touchdown drive, an inside screen Will Fuller took 11 yards to the end zone.
Golson went to the locker room after the score to get an apparent leg problem checked. The junior came away a little gimpy after scrambling to avoid a rush and pushing a pass to Prosise for 13 yards on the play right before the touchdown.
Sophomore backup Malik Zaire began warming up on the sideline, but before Florida State completed its second touchdown drive of the quarter and tied the score at 24, Golson had jogged back to the sideline.
He never missed a play.
Kyle Brindza’s 46-yard field goal with 11:40 left in the fourth quarter gave Notre Dame a 27-24 lead, but Winston was just about unstoppable in the second half.
The blitzes that got to him in the first, he stared down in the second half. The Irish secondary couldn’t stay with Greene, Jesus Wilson and freshman Travis Rudolph. Winston picked the Irish apart and Karlos Williams’ second short scoring run gave Florida State its first lead, 31-27, with 7:23 left in the fourth quarter.
Winston finished with 273 yards and two touchdowns.