No. 8 Florida State pulls away in the second half in blowout win over No. 5 LSU

Florida State scored 31 consecutive points in the second half

ORLANDO, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 03: Keon Coleman #4 of the Florida State Seminoles celebrates with teammate D'Mitri Emmanuel #71 after scoring in the first quarter against the LSU Tigers at Camping World Stadium on September 03, 2023 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Keon Coleman scored three touchdowns in his first game at Florida State. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Florida State looked like a team ready to live up to its lofty preseason expectations Sunday night.

The No. 8 Seminoles scored 31 consecutive points in the second half to beat No. 5 LSU, 45-24 in Orlando. It’s the second straight season Florida State has beaten the Tigers and this year’s win didn’t need a blocked extra point with no time left.

Michigan State transfer Keon Coleman caught three touchdowns for the Seminoles as Florida State torched a revamped LSU secondary. Coleman finished the game with nine catches for 122 yards as QB Jordan Travis threw for 342 yards.

Coleman’s third TD came at the start of the fourth quarter after an interception by Renardo Green. LSU WR Malik Nabers fell down on his route on the first play of the quarter and Green stepped in front of the pass. Eight plays later, Coleman easily won a one-on-one battle in the end zone.

Coleman’s move from Michigan State was one of the biggest transfers of the offseason. He decided to leave the Spartans in the spring and head to Tallahassee and join an offense that already featured Travis, RB Trey Benson and WR Johnny Wilson.

South Carolina transfer Jaheim Bell then broke the game open midway through the fourth quarter on a 44-yard catch-and-run TD and scored his second TD of the night late in the fourth to turn a big win into a blowout.

LSU’s questions to answer

The Tigers led 17-14 at halftime despite a fumbled punt and two failed fourth-down conversions in the red zone over the first 30 minutes. The Tigers failed to capitalize on numerous chances in the first half and were simply blown out in the second.

The second half also exposed the questions that lingered over LSU entering the 2023 season. QB Jayden Daniels entered the year as the No. 2 Heisman favorite behind Caleb Williams because of his passing and rushing ability. But Daniels was LSU’s primary rusher in 2022 and that didn’t change on Sunday night.

No Tigers running back had more than four carries in the season opener as Notre Dame transfer Logan Diggs missed the game due to an injury. And while Josh Williams broke a 35-yard run, the other 11 carries by LSU running backs went for a combined total of 14 yards.

LSU also hit the transfer portal hard for depth at cornerback after the 2022 season. The Tigers entered the season with transfers and freshmen at five of its top six cornerback spots and the new secondary struggled to cover Coleman and Wilson among others.

LSU still has plenty of potential this season. The Tigers should still be a force in the SEC West and star DT Maason Smith will be back after missing this game because of an NCAA violation. But the Tigers’ margin of error for the College Football Playoff is pretty much gone.

Florida State’s lofty expectations

The Seminoles opened the 2023 season in the top 10 for the first time since 2017. That year was the final one for Jimbo Fisher in Tallahassee and FSU finished that season at 7-6 and in the Independence Bowl.

Four losing seasons followed Fisher’s departure but things got going a season ago as the Seminoles went 10-3 and ended the season on a six-game win streak. That streak is now at seven and is the longest for the Seminoles since 2015.

The second-half push a season ago along with the returns of Travis and star DE Jared Verse and a bunch of transfer additions at key positions made it seem possible that Florida State could win its first ACC title since 2014 in 2023. And there’s even more reason to think that after Sunday night. The Seminoles were clearly the better team and the Sept. 23 matchup with reigning ACC champ Clemson got even more enticing.