Without several key players, including quarterback Jordan Travis, Florida State held on for a 35-31 win over Louisville on Friday to move to 3-0 for the first time since 2015.
Travis, who led FSU to an upset win over LSU in Week 1, opened the game by completing his first 11 passes but appeared to injure his right knee while trying to escape a sack in the second quarter.
Head coach Mike Norvell did not update Travis’ prognosis after the game beyond saying he would be evaluated when the team returned to Tallahassee.
Tate Rodemaker who stepped in for the injured Travis, ended the first half with an ugly interception, but when he emerged from the locker room — with Travis on the sideline on crutches — he looked like a different player.
Rodemaker sparked a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to open the second half and tie the score at 21; then his 69-yard throw to Johnny Wilson in the fourth quarter tied it again at 28. The FSU ground game carried the offense for a final TD drive culminating with another Rodemaker TD pass to Wilson that proved to be the difference in the game. Wilson had seven catches for 149 yards and two TDs.
Rodemaker finished 6-of-10 passing for 109 yards and two TDs.
“I knew we could win with Tate,” Norvell said. “I’ve seen it in practice, seen him work, seen so much invested to be prepared for the moment. He got put in a challenging situation, on the road. But he went out there and responded.”
Travis was seen on the field after the game walking without the aid of crutches and giving a hug to Rodemaker to celebrate the win.
Florida State is now 9-3 in the last 12 games started by Travis. For the season, Travis is 44-of-65 passing for 624 yards and four touchdowns.
“Guys went down, some didn’t make the trip — some of our best football players,” Norvell said. “But tonight, our guys willed themselves to victory.”
Asked after the game how many players would need evaluation due to injury on Saturday, Norvell quipped: “All of them.”
Florida State hosts Boston College in Week 4.