TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State got back to .500 last weekend as interim coach Odell Haggins, in his first game replacing the fired Willie Taggart, led his team to a 38-31 victory over Boston College. The Seminoles need one more win to return to the postseason after missing out for the first time in 36 years last season and they look to get it Saturday, when they host Alabama State in the final home game for a senior class that has played for two head coaches (also Jimbo Fisher) and had two stints with Haggins as interim coach.
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"You love these kids because they stayed here, they fought together and all the kids that are here that have been through this twice, man you just got to love them," Haggins said. "Even though we haven't won an ACC championship, we haven't won a national championship, (there's) something special about this place right here." A former player and 26-year assistant for Florida State, Haggins is 3-0 as interim coach after directing the Seminoles' final two games of the 2017 season following Fisher's resignation, and his team has shown a penchant for playing hard and with emotion for him. The result showed on both sides of the ball against BC, and they wound up recording their highest yardage output of the year (524 yards), but the Seminoles can't get complacent and overlook Alabama State, an FCS opponent seeking its third straight victory after defeating Mississippi Valley State (27-0) and Texas Southern (27-21). "We're going to go day-by-day and we're going to build up to Saturday," Haggins told reporters early in the week. "We're not going to look so far ahead and say, 'Oh, we've got Alabama State here.' No, we're going to attack ... and work on the fundamentals and just build up to it."
ABOUT ALABAMA STATE (5-4)
The Hornets haven’t finished a season with a winning record since 2016, when they finished 6-5, and they are in the running for the Southwestern Athletic Conference East Division title although they need help from other teams. Alabama State produced its first shutout since 2012 two weeks ago against Mississippi Valley State while the Hornets outgained Texas Southern 403-270 in a win last week, led by Ezra Gray’s 24-carry, 154-yard rushing performance. KHA’Darris Davis threw for 226 yards against Texas Southern, with Michael Jefferson hauling in five catches for 102 yards and three touchdowns, giving him 10 scores for the season.
ABOUT FLORIDA STATE (5-5)
James Blackman threw for 346 yards and long-distance scores of 74 yards to Tamorrion Terry and 60 to D.J. Matthews against BC, becoming the first Seminoles quarterback to throw multiple touchdown passes of 60-plus yards in 15 years. The real fireworks on the afternoon, however, came from surprising redshirt freshman quarterback Jordan Travis, who took the first snap of his Seminoles career 26 yards for a go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter followed by a 66-yard score late in the fourth, the longest ever touchdown run by a Florida State quarterback. “You can tell we came out there working,” Terry said afterward. “Nobody gave up. We knew we had to go out and make plays and be playmakers."
1. Florida State's 9.2 yards per play at BC was the school's highest average in a game since 2013.
2. Junior S Hamsah Nasirildeen had 22 tackles last week, the most for a Seminole since Dale McCullers set the school record with 29 in 1968.
3. In their three games under Haggins, the Seminoles are averaging 40.7 points per game.
PREDICTION: Florida State 44, Alabama State 30