Florida State falls to Houston in the Peach Bowl

Florida State was unable to overcome injuries to several key players and they fell 38-24 to the Houston Cougars in the 2015 Peach Bowl.

Sean Maguire, hobbled in this game by an ankle injury in the first quarter, threw for 392 yards, but also tossed four interceptions on the day. Dalvin Cook, Florida State’s most explosive player, was limited to 33 yards on the ground. Houston’s highly touted rush defense, ranked 20th in the nation coming into the game, held Cook to only 1.8 yards per carry and Florida State to only 16 total rushing yards. Meanwhile, Houston’s dynamic quarterback Greg Ward Jr. accounted for 305 yards of total offense and three touchdowns.

Houston came out of the gate strong, scoring a touchdown on their second drive and piling up 247 yards of total offense to go into the half up 21-3. Greg Ward Jr., Houston’s dynamic quarterback, was proficient both in the pass and run and lead Houston on several long scoring drives. Florida State was unable to get Dalvin Cook going and the normally-explosive running back was held to 11 rushing yards at halftime, 1.1 yards per carry. Houston’s highly-touted rush defense, led by linebacker Elandon Roberts, dominated FSU’s offensive line and Cook was unable to find any running room in the first half.

Things got worse for the Seminoles when quarterback Sean Maguire injured his ankle late in the first quarter. Maguire was carted off the field and redshirt freshman J.J. Consentino made his first appearance in real playing time. Houston amped up the pressure on Consentino and he was unable to push the ball down the field. Fortunately, Maguire re-entered the game before halftime, his ankle heavily taped, but his injury clearly bothered him as the Seminoles were unable to generate any offense off of several stops by their defense.

The ‘Noles finally got into the end zone after halftime. Florida State’s defense held Houston’s offense to a three-and-out and Sean Maguire was able to make some big third down throws that eventually lead to a Dalvin Cook 1-yard touchdown run. Unfortunately, they were not able to generate any offense outside of that drive and several Sean Maguire interceptions prevented drives from extending. Defensively, Florida State came out of the half fired up and Houston was unable to capitalize off of Florida State’s turnovers in the third quarter.

Florida State started the fourth quarter with a 65-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Travis Rudolph on a blown coverage by Houston. However, Houston responded with a long scoring drive that ended with a 17-yard touchdown reception by Chance Allen following a busted coverage from Florida State. The Seminoles then went on their best drive of the day, a five play 75-yard drive that ended in a 14-yard diving catch from Bobo Wilson to cut the score to 31-24. After Greg Ward Jr. left with an injury, backup quarterback Kyle Postma came in and lead the Cougars to another touchdown that ultimately sealed the deal for Houston.

Defensively, the Seminoles actually had a pretty solid day. Houston racked up 452 yards of total offense, but were limited to 4.6 yards per play. Out of 16 Houston drives, seven of them ended in punts and only six were scoring drives. Florida State was able to put pressure on Ward Jr. throughout the game and Josh Sweat and Derwin James ended their phenomenal freshman campaigns with solid performances in this game.

Ultimately, it was turnovers that doomed the Seminoles. Florida State entered the game with only 10 turnovers on the season, but committed five on the day. Cook fumbled early in the first half, his first lost fumble since the 2015 Rose Bowl against Oregon, and Sean Maguire threw four interceptions. Houston committed a turnover early on in the ballgame, but played clean after that and won the turnover margin.

Florida State falls to 10-3 on the season while Houston improves to 13-1 in their first season under Tom Herman.

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