Tampa Bay Times

Thud! FSU free fall continues in 35-3 thrashing by BC

- Times wires Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Florida State now has to win out just to make a bowl game after the Seminoles were trounced by Boston College 35-3 Friday night.

FSU (2-5, 2-4 ACC), which was ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press preseason poll and now has lost three of its past four games, has not had a season without a bowl bid since 1981. It’s the Seminoles’ worst start to a season since 1976, the first year for thencoach Bobby Bowden.

A.J. Dillon ran for 149 yards and a touchdown, and Boston College (5-4, 3-3) extended its surprising turnaround with a third straight victory and its first win over the Seminoles since 2009.

Anthony Brown threw for one touchdown and ran for another, and Jeff Smith threw for a TD on a flanker option. Just two years removed from a winless ACC season, the Eagles have now won three straight conference games for the first time since 2013.

BC students stormed the field — the first home conference win the senior class was able to see. The margin of defeat was the largest for FSU to an unranked team since losing to North Carolina, also by 32, in 2001.

MIAMI ON LOOK-AHEAD ALERT: No. 8 Miami is unbeaten and a big favorite heading into today’s game at injury-depleted North Carolina. Still, coach Mark Richt doesn’t expect an easy game.

“We’re just finding ways to win at the end of games,” Richt said. “We’re not foolish enough to think that we’ve arrived yet.”

The Hurricanes (6-0, 4-0 ACC) haven’t had an easy win in October, even though they sit as the lone unbeaten in the league’s typically unpredicta­ble Coastal Division. There was a win at Florida State on a touchdown with six seconds left, followed by a win against Georgia Tech on a field goal with four seconds left and last weekend’s 27-19 home win against Syracuse.

The visit to UNC (1-7, 0-5) comes before pivotal home games against No. 13 Virginia Tech and No. 9 Notre Dame.

The Tar Heels are off to their worst start in league play since 0-6 in 2006, done in by inexperien­ce compounded by a dizzying number of injuries. Most glaringly, the traditiona­lly high-scoring offense has a combined 38 points in its past four games and has twice needed fourth-quarter touchdowns to avoid the first shutout of the Larry Fedora era.

UNC is coming off a 59-7 loss at Virginia Tech, the most lopsided loss of Fedora’s six-year tenure.

“From the day I took this job to where I’m at now, he’s still that same person, and nothing has changed about him. But that’s why you like him and you respect him so much.”

Imagine the temptation, especially as a senior in a new system, to walk into Strong’s office and beg for the scheme to adapt to his skill set.

Yet Flowers’ next sign of discontent will be his first. Sure, there was the 15-yard penalty against Temple for taunting after a play, but only because he seemed more geeked up than normal against a team that shattered the Bulls’ conference title hopes last season.

And those periodic gestures when Flowers pats both hands on his chest, as if to suggest “feed me” to the coaches on the sideline?

He says that’s not what he’s conveying.

“Not at all,” he said. “That’s just saying, ‘We’ve gotta work.’ That’s us, we have to work in the red zone, we have to punch the ball in every chance we get. And we haven’t been doing that.”

Here’s what he has been doing: amassing 265.4 total yards a game (31st nationally), honoring every media request brought to him by USF officials (some as early as 7:15 a.m.) and retelling his heartbreak­ing life story more times than he can count (including for an ESPN College GameDay feature scheduled to air this morning).

Speaking of that story, more sadness was woven into it in early September.

Flowers and the Bulls were en route to their hotel the day before the Sept. 2 Stony Brook game when he learned his aunt, Judith Mans, had passed away from blood-clot issues at age 51. Mans was the sister of Flowers’ mom, whose death from cancer when he was in high school left him an orphan.

“When my mom left, she was always there,” said Flowers, whose dad was shot and killed outside his family’s home in the Liberty City neighborho­od of Miami when he was 7.

“She always kept me in her prayers. … She was one of them people who always went to church, got me to go to church. She just always did the things that a mom would do or a sister would do for her sister.”

The following day, against a Division I-AA opponent, USF failed to score on seven of its first eight possession­s in an underwhelm­ing 31-17 victory. Flowers led all players with 253 total yards. Afterward, he told reporters he missed way too many reads.

“At the end of the day, I put the blame on me,” he said.

“I told him, ‘It’s amazing. We’re in the position we’re in right now, and we have a lot of guys that play well, but you are the guy that has put us in this position because you could’ve very easily made it about yourself,’ ” Strong said earlier this week.

“We weren’t playing good early on offense, and you could’ve just said, ‘Okay, this is what I did last year, and I’m not doing that right now, so who’s to blame?’ And there was never any finger-pointing. He was like, ‘You know what coach, I’ve got to get better.’ ”

Call it a juke move against individual­ism and convention­al thought.

“We both don’t talk very much, we both kind of lead by example, and he’s definitely come into his own this year, you know, just trying to lead the team,” senior safety Devin Abraham said.

“When people thought he was down, he wasn’t. He was just working and (is) a great competitor.”

 ?? Associated Press ?? AJ Dillon rushes for a game-high 149 yards on 33 carries and a touchdown to lead Boston College’s victory over Florida State.
Associated Press AJ Dillon rushes for a game-high 149 yards on 33 carries and a touchdown to lead Boston College’s victory over Florida State.
 ??  ?? Quinton Flowers
Quinton Flowers
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