Like a lot of sports fans throughout the Carolinas, I watched N.C. State come back from a 16-0 deficit to upset No.3 Florida State, 17-16, in Raleigh on Saturday night.
What a win for N.C. State, which richly deserved it. The Wolfpack not only played better than FSU throughout the second half, they played smarter. And the final touchdown drive, which included two fourth-down conversion passes from quarterback Mike Glennon, was a thing of beauty.
FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher deserves a lot of blame for this one, though. He wouldn't let his very experienced field-goal kicker try a 51-yarder midway through the fourth quarter, instead deciding to punt the ball away. A field goal there makes State's final TD drive irrelevant, because the score is 19-10.
But the punt kept State in the game. And then Fisher got all conservative on everyone again, simply running the ball three times to use up State's timeouts with a little more than two minutes left. No throw. No real attempt at the first down that would probably have sealed the game.
Instead Fisher was playing the old John Fox "A punt is not a bad play" philosophy, and was rightly burned when State then partially blocked that second punt and took over only a little more than 40 yards away from paydirt.
Still, State had to make that final drive, and it was something else. It was the polar opposite for State fans from their feeling at the end of last week, when the Wolfpack gave up a long TD pass to Miami to lose in the final seconds.
So bravo to the Wolfpack.
And I hope Panther coach Ron Rivera was watching. Rivera decided to punt on fourth-and-1 from the Atlanta 45 last week in Carolina's close loss, and the defense then let him down. I hope next time he goes for it. Rivera's decision, however, was more understandable than Fisher's -- the FSU coach just drew into a turtle shell for those final 10 minutes, wishing the game were over, and it cost him and paid off big-time for N.C. State.
One other consequence of this State win: No.6 South Carolina, which had a dominating 35-7 win over No.5 Georgia, should move to No.3 in the country. That's pretty amazing, too -- the Gamecocks at No.3. But the teams at 3,4 and 5 all lost, so it only stands to reason and USC certainly deserves it after blasting the Dawgs.