by CFP Staff
January 1, 2011
Florida State beat South Carolina 26-17 in Friday night's Chick-fil-A Bowl, the last college football game of 2010.
The win boosted Florida State to its first 10-win season (10-4) since 2003 and Jimbo Fisher secured the best record of any coach with a new school in 2010.
The Gamecocks (9-5) failed in their bid to reach 10 wins for just the second time in school history, though this season's 9 wins were the most since Lou Holtz' 2001 team also won 9.
South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia threw interceptions on three of his first five series, and RB Marcus Lattimore fumbled and was knocked out of the game with a concussion on the sixth play of the opening drive.
Florida State failed to take advantage of ample opportunity to turn the game into a rout and had to settle for a pair of field goals in the first quarter. E.J. Manuel replaced Christian Ponder (concussion) at quarterback midway through the 2nd quarter and led Florida State on its first touchdown drive, capped by a 27-yard run by Chris Thompson just 1:02 before halftime. However, South Carolina answered with a 40-yard field goal at the horn and the FSU lead was 13-3 at intermission.
The Seminoles had just enough offense in the second half to hold the Gamecocks at bay. Another Hopkins field goal made it 16-3 before South Carolina scored its first touchdown on a trick play - an Ace Sanders pass to quarterback Garcia from the FSU 3-yard line.
Hopkins' fourth field goal gave Florida State a 19-10 lead late in the 3rd, but South Carolina responded with a Brian Maddox 7-yard run to pull within two.
Manuel then put the game away by leading a 13-play drive that took 6-1/2 minutes off the clock and didn't end until he tossed a 7-yard pass to Taiwan Easterling.
Florida State improved to 9-5-1 vs. Steve Spurrier and 16-3 vs. South Carolina. It was the first time the 'Noles faced a Spurrier-coached Gamecock team and the first time Florida State and South Carolina have met since since 1991, when they competed as independent programs.
South Carolina hasn't beaten the 'Noles since 1984 and Congrove's computer ranking system on CollegeFootballPoll.com said it wouldn't happen this year. It gave the Seminoles a five one-hundredths of a point advantage.
South Carolina lost a 3rd straight bowl game to fall to 4-12 overall and 1-4 under Spurrier.
Florida State has won its last three bowl games and is 23-14-2 all-time. The Seminoles entered the 2010 bowl season with the nation's 6th-best bowl winning percentage, 9th-most wins and the most consecutive appearances with 29.
The Seminoles improved to 2-1 in this particular bowl game. Their previous appearances in this Atlanta postseason classic occurred in 1968 and 1983 when it was still known as the Peach Bowl.
South Carolina's only previous appearance in this game came in 1969 at the end of its only conference championship season. The Gamecocks, then members of the ACC, lost to West Virginia which featured Bobby Bowden was an assistant coach. Bowden became WVU's head coach the very next season.