Game ball: With all due respect to Brian Burns, who was simply dominant (five tackles, two-and-a-half sacks and a blocked punt), this week’s honoree is of course Dalvin Cook, who became FSU’s all-time leading rusher in style. Playing in Syracuse, the site of his first career 100-yard game, Cook carried 28 times for 225 yards and four touchdowns. It marked the fourth 200-yard game of Cook’s career and his fifth with multiple touchdowns this season.
Play of the game: On his second carry of the game, Cook took a hand-off around the left side of the line, split two Syracuse defenders and then was off to the races for a 41-yard gain that was 20 years in the making. With that run, Cook reached 3,987 rushing yards for his career, emphatically surpassing Warrick Dunn as FSU’s all-time leader for rushing yards in a career. Dunn ran for 3,959 yards from 1993-96. Cook entered Saturday’s contest with 3,941. By the time the day was over, Cook had 225 yards for the day and 4,166 for his career. He’s just the fourth running back in ACC history to reach the 4,000-yard mark, and the first to do it in just three seasons.
Turning point: With the Seminoles leading 14-0 midway through the second quarter, Syracuse found some rhythm on offense and, aided by two FSU penalties, reached the Seminoles’ 4-yard line with an opportunity to make it a one-score game. But on third-and-goal, Syracuse quarterback Zack Mahoney misfired on a pass to the corner of the end zone, and FSU’s Tarvarus McFadden easily grabbed his eighth interception of the season. The Seminoles then capitalized on the turnover, marching 80 yards in just seven plays for a touchdown that made it 21-0. Cook did most of the heavy lifting on the drive: He carried five times for 47 yards, including a 25-yarder down the right sideline for the score. McFadden continues to lead the country in interceptions, and his eight are the most for any Seminole since Terrell Buckley grabbed a school-record 12 in 1991.
It was over when: The Seminoles punched in a touchdown on the first drive of the third quarter. FSU went into halftime reeling ever so slightly after the Orange connected on a 46-yard Hail Mary for a touchdown on the final play of the first half, and a punt or turnover out of halftime would have given the Orange the ball with a chance to cut its deficit to just seven points. Instead, the Seminoles came out sharp and needed just six plays to go 75 yards. Fittingly, it was Cook who sealed it with an 11-yard, up-the-gut touchdown run.