The North Carolina Tar Heels weren’t ranked in the top five this time, but that won’t make Florida State’s trip home to Tallahassee any less sweet.
For the second consecutive year, the Seminoles were huge underdogs against the Tar Heels on Saturday afternoon. And for the second consecutive year, Jordan Travis led the Seminoles to a monumental upset.
Travis, making his second consecutive start, was spectacular running the football and also hit a number of big plays through the air to lift the 18-point underdog Seminoles to a 35-25 victory in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Travis accounted for all five FSU touchdowns — three passing and two rushing.
It was Florida State’s second straight win after starting the season with four consecutive losses. And it was the Seminoles’ first road win since interim coach Odell Haggins led the team to a victory at Boston College in 2019.
Travis finished Saturday’s game with 121 rushing yards on 14 carries, and he also completed 11 of 13 passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
“It means everything,” Travis said after helping the Seminoles improve to 2-4 on the season. “Our goal every Saturday is to go out and get a win. The boys did it today. They worked really hard all week … It’s been a roller coaster, this whole season. I’m very thankful they’re on my team.
The game couldn’t have started much worse for FSU, which was playing without several key defensive players and fell behind 10-0 late in the first quarter.
But just when things looked bleak, the Seminoles erupted for three straight touchdowns to take a 21-10 lead into halftime.
“They believe. They believe in what we’re doing and how we’re trying to do it,” FSU head coach Mike Norvell said of his players. “The only way we were going to come here and achieve success was we had to be willing to fight. … When you’re down 10-0 on the road, the place was rocking. Nothing fazed them.”
First, Travis connected with receiver Malik McClain on a 5-yard touchdown in which the freshman wideout did a great job of getting a knee down inbounds and completing the catch.
Then after the Seminoles’ defense forced a three-and-out, Travis broke off a 53-yard touchdown scamper to give the ‘Noles the lead at 14-10. Then just when it looked like the Tar Heels might answer with a score of their own, FSU cornerback Jarrian Jones picked off a Sam Howell pass in the end zone.
FSU’s offense came through again, capping off an 8-play, 80-yard drive with a 32-yard touchdown pass from Travis to Ontaria “Pokey” Wilson, which gave the ‘Noles an 11-point advantage at halftime.
Carolina came out strong in the third quarter with a touchdown pass from Sam Howell to tight end Kamari Morales to cut FSU’s lead to 21-17.
But FSU responded with a 5-play, 75-yard drive to push the advantage back to 28-17. The big play was a 44-yard pass from Travis to Keyshawn Helton (with a roughing-the-passer penalty tacked on), then Travis plunged in from 1 yard out with a QB sneak.
Florida State extended its advantage to 35-17 with another touchdown pass from Travis to Wilson — this time from six yards out to cap off a nine-play, 83-yard drive.
Nearly one year ago, Travis and the Seminoles pulled off a 31-28 upset of North Carolina when the Tar Heels were undefeated and ranked No. 5 in the country.