FSU survives slow start vs. Florida, escapes again

Tallahassee, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Style points continue to elude Florida State, but the Seminoles nevertheless keep winning.

The No. 1 team in the country was put the test yet again Saturday but held off rival Florida, 24-19, to complete a second straight undefeated regular season.

Florida State (12-0) won its 28th straight game in spite of reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, who threw four interceptions -- three in the first quarter alone -- and completed just 12-of-24 passes for 125 yards.

Winston did toss a pair of touchdown passes to Nick O'Leary, while Dalvin Cook gained 144 yards on 24 carries for the defending champion Seminoles, whose last three wins have come by a combined 12 points.

"I said that to our players it's the first time in school history the teams went back-to-back undefeated in regular seasons. With all the great teams it shows you how hard that is to do," Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "That is an accomplishment, but that's not our ultimate accomplishment and there is a lot more to play for."

A matchup against Georgia Tech in the ACC title game next week is the final hurdle in FSU's quest for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Florida (6-5) missed two potential go-ahead field goals in the second half and had the ball at midfield in the waning minutes.

Treon Harris went 0-for-6 through the air on the final drive and finished 13- of-32 for 169 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, one of which was returned 94 yards for a TD by Terrance Smith.

Despite being bowl eligible, this was the final game on the Gators' sideline for head coach Will Muschamp, who announced two weeks ago he will step down.

"We've had our opportunities. You look at two other games where we had the game in hand and had our opportunities to get it done and we didn't get it done," Muschamp said. "It falls on my shoulders, and that's why they're going to be looking for a coach."

Roberto Aguayo's 37-yard field goal staked the Seminoles to a 24-19 lead with 3:23 remaining, and a pass interference call on fourth down gave the Gators life at midfield with just over two minutes to play.

Harris, though, threw three straight incomplete passes, and Demarcus Robinson dropped a fourth-down throw behind him to essentially seal the outcome.

Winston became the first FBS quarterback to throw three interceptions in the first quarter this season, but the Seminoles' defense minimized the damage.

Florida's first two picks led to field goals of 52 and 39 yards from Austin Hardin, and Brandon Powell's 42-yard reception set up Hardin's 43-yarder with 2:15 remaining in the opening quarter.

Brian Poole stepped in front of a Winston pass on the ensuing series, and the Gators took over at the FSU 9-yard line, primed to build on their 9-0 lead.

Harris' pass, however, went through the arms of tight end Tevin Westbrook, and Smith made a key interception that he took back 94 yards for a score.

O'Leary caught touchdown passes of 10 and six yards in the second quarter to give FSU a 21-9 lead, but an errant punt set Florida up are the FSU 15-yard line just before the break.

Clay Burton caught a touchdown pass on the next play to make it a 21-16 game at halftime, and Hardin made another kick, this time from 32 yards out, less than five minutes into the third quarter.

FSU's first three second-half possessions ended in a punt, interception and turnover on downs, respectively, but a pair of misses from Hardin -- from 52 and 42 yards out -- kept the Seminoles in front.

Game Notes

Winston became the first quarterback to win his first 25 starts since Oklahoma's Jimmy Harris in 1954-56 ... The Gators went 28-21 in four seasons under Muschamp ... Florida is the last team to take down the Seminoles, doing so back on Nov. 24, 2012 ... Florida still leads the all-time series, 34-23-2 ... FSU starting tailback Karlos Williams sustained a big hit early in the third quarter and did not return.