The Virginia Cavaliers went on the road and hung with #2 Florida State before falling 34-20 in Tallahassee. In a mistake-filled game by both teams, the Hoos just didn't have the horses to keep up with the undefeated Noles. The loss is UVA's 4th straight, dropping the team to 4-6 (2-4) on the season.
To win, UVA's margin for error would obviously be small. The Hoos had to play near-perfect football, and hope that FSU made some mistakes. Winston and Florida State did make the mistakes that could have led to a miracle upset, but the Hoos were even further from perfect.
The first 16 minutes of the game encapsulated both teams' struggles; FSU held a 21-13 lead, with all points coming off turnovers. Kevin Parks fumbled on Virginia's first offensive play from scrimmage, leading to FSU's first TD 3 plays later. Virginia took a 13-7 lead later in the period. The first UVA score was set up when Maurice Canaday picked off Winston around midfield. Greyson Lambert led the team down the field, throwing a nice ball to Andre Levrone who made an outstanding catch to tie the game. Next, Eli Harold intercepted a tipped pass, and led to another Lambert touchdown, this time to Darius Jennings; however, FSU blocked the extra point.
The lead didn't last long. After a Florida State 3-and-out, Greyson Lambert threw an awful interception at the team's own 3-yard line. FSU punched it in, and Lambert quickly made another mistake, throwing a poor backwards lateral that the Seminoles recovered - they found the end zone on the next play once again.
The UVA defense allowed their only FSU touchdown drive of more than 25 yards to trail 28-13 going into halftime.
Virginia hung with Florida State all game, threatening to pull within one score with 6 minutes to play. Down 34-20, the Hoos drove to the Seminole 10, setting up 3rd and 5. Steve Fairchild called a wildcat run by David Watford, which lost 2 yards, then a screen pass behind the line of scrimmage that was blown up, sealing FSU's perfect record.
Greyson Lambert finished 20 of 35 for 220 yards and 3 touchdowns, but made 2 very poor decisions on his interception and fumble that led directly to points. (His line was pretty similar to Winston's 22-35 for 261 yards, with a TD and 2 picks). Florida State did a great job of stopping UVA's running game, which picked up 37 yards on 32 rushes; that kept the Hoos from sustaining drives, as the team only scored off turnovers.
The result, covering the spread in a loss at the #2 team in the nation, is something that few would have been terribly upset about before the game. But Wahoo fans could be frustrated, once again, in how the team lost. It wasted a poor game from Jameis Winston, and an outstanding effort from the UVA defense. That 34-20 final score isn't fair to the defense, as 21 points were handed to FSU on a silver platter. The unit wasn't perfect, but made some big plays that led to points, pressured Winston, and prevented big plays.
Virginia heads toward a bye next week before finishing their season vs. Miami and at Virginia Tech. The Hoos will have to win both to qualify a bowl. We'll have plenty more to come on yet another painful loss this week. We'll have even more than that on the impending basketball season to cheer you up.