The Florida State Seminoles are still undefeated and still No.1.
And Jameis Winston is still their quarterback.
Senior running back Karlos Williams ensured the former with a 13-yard touchdown run in overtime that lifted FSU to an improbable 23-17 victory over 22nd-ranked Clemson at Doak Campbell Stadium.
And Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher confirmed the latter in a prepared statement at his post-game press conference.
Winston was suspended Wednesday for yelling an obscene phrase that has become a popular Internet meme on campus at FSU. Florida State administration extended that suspension to a full game late Friday night.
A borderline emotional Fisher said late Saturday night that he didn’t condone “any of the comments Jameis made this week or where he made them.”
“Now,” Fisher said, “he’s served that punishment and he’s ready to move forward. He’ll be back at practice on Monday and he’ll be our quarterback on Monday.”
Fisher and the Seminoles might consider that the latest blessing after a Saturday full of them.
Clemson appeared the better team more often than not during the 60-plus minutes of game time.
But the Tigers squandered numerous opportunities to put it away.
That includes a disastrous stretch that saw an apparent touchdown overturned and the ball placed on the 1-yard line. The points came off the board, and, two plays later, a shotgun snap sailed over quarterback Deshaun Watson’s head for a 23-yard loss. Kicker Ammon Lakip missed a 40-yard field goal attempt, and Clemson came away with nothing.
“Most importantly, we just had to man up and realize this was going to be a tough game,” said senior receiver Rashad Greene, whose 73-yard touchdown reception tied the score at 17 in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve got to suck it up and make it work. Regardless of what was going on, we had to make it work.”
Even still, FSU again appeared to be on the ropes late in the fourth quarter. An overthrown interception by Sean Maguire put the Tigers in business at FSU’s 26-yard line with 2:14 to go.
Needing only to drain some clock and set up a short field goal (albeit not a sure thing — Lakip already had missed from 23 and 40 yards) to certainly seal the outcome, Clemson got things started with an 8-yard run by Watson. But on second-and-2 at the 18-yard line, FSU defensive tackle Eddie Goldman closed in on running back C.J. Davidson, caught a glimpse of the ball and swiped at it.
“I was just trying to get the tackle. I felt my hand on the ball and I just kind of ripped at it a little bit,” Goldman said.
After the play, cameras caught Maguire on the sideline saying “Oh my God, we got the ball back.”
FSU then ran out the clock to send things to overtime and, a few moments later, Williams powered into the end zone, setting off a flurry of fireworks from the stadium rooftop.
An FSU official later said that the Seminoles’ locker room was even louder than after their national title win at the Rose Bowl.
Fisher, for his part, looked like this win meant as much to him as any.
“That’s what college football is all about,” he said. “It was a fun thing to do. An exhausting thing to do, but it was fun.”