The Daily Nole

18 Days Until FSU Football: Noles Score 18 Straight to Beat Irish in 2011 Champs Sports Bowl

Mike Olivella/FSU athletics

There are 18 days left until Florida State football starts the 2018 season. As part of the offseason, we’re highlighting players, games, and specific moments from FSU football history.

On Wednesday, it was former FSU defensive end Peter Boulware and his school-record and nation-leading 19 sacks as a redshirt junior in 1996.

Today, it’s Florida State scoring the game’s final 18 points to knock off Notre Dame, 18-14, in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando.

The season for FSU in 2011 had not gotten off to an ideal start. Through five games, the Seminoles were just 2-3, but entered the Champs Sports Bowl against Notre Dame as winners in six of their last seven. Both teams entered the contest with a record of 8-4.

It was a low-scoring defensive contest as neither team eclipsed 300 yards of total offense. In fact at the break, the only score in a 7-0 contest was defensive. The Fighting Irish were able to draw first blood less than six minutes in after linebacker Manti Te’o stripped FSU’s Devonta Freeman of the ball, which was recovered by safety Zeke Motta and returned 29 yards for a touchdown.

Notre Dame was able to to double its lead on the opening drive of the second half as Tommy Rees’ pass was bobbled by FSU cornerback Greg Reid before landing in the hands of wide receiver Michael Floyd for a 5-yard touchdown. Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner would return the ensuing kickoff inside the Notre Dame 25-yard-line, but all the Seminoles could manage was a field goal.

FSU trailed 14-3 after three quarters, but wasted little time in the final period turning the game around. After E.J. Manuel’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Bert Reed on the first play of the fourth quarter cut the lead to 14-9, linebacker Nigel Bradham picked off Notre Dame’s Andrew Hendrix to give the Seminoles the ball in the red zone.

Two plays later, Manuel completed a 15-yard touchdown pass to Rashad Greene. For the second straight time, the 2-point conversion was no good.

Dustin Hopkins’ second field goal with 8:05 remaining extended the FSU lead to four and completed the scoring. With less than four minutes remaining, the Fighting Irish used a facemask penalty on a punt return to begin their drive inside the Florida State 30-yard-line, but with under three minutes remaining, Rees was intercepted in the end zone by FSU safety Terrence Brooks to essentially seal the contest.

Terrence Brooks’ interception with less than three minutes to play sealed the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl for FSU. (FSU athletics)

With the win, FSU finished the season 9-4 and improved its record against Notre Dame to 5-2 all-time and 2-0 in bowl games. Manuel passed for 249 yards in the victory while Greene led all players in yards from scrimmage with 99 yards receiving. In addition to Bradham and Brooks, Joyner also had an interception.

The 14-point deficit that the Seminoles were forced to overcome in Orlando on Dec. 29, 2011 tied the largest bowl comeback in program history at the time. It was also the fourth straight bowl victory for FSU.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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