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Jameis Winston rallies Florida State past Notre Dame

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Mark Wallheiser / Associated Press
Jameis Winston finished 23-of-31 for 273 yards with two TDS and one INT against Notre Dame.

A masterful second-half performance by Jameis Winston led Florida State to a 31-27 victory Saturday night over Notre Dame and moved the Seminoles a giant step closer to a playoff bid.


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The Seminoles held on for the victory after an Irish TD on fourth down with 13 seconds left was waved off for offensive interference.

The recent distractions for Winston, including a school investigation into whether he received money for autographs, seemed to bother him in the first half. But not in the second, when he torched the Irish secondary.

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher talked with ABC announcers on the field after the game and said he told Winston to "carry himself with class and dignity." Fisher also was asked to describe his team and said, "There's character, there's heart, there's a team full of great kids."

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Winston was 15-of-16 for 181 yards and a TD in the second half as the Seminoles rallied from a 17-10 halftime deficit. FSU scored three second-half TDs, and all three ended drives that covered at least 70 yards.

The Seminoles have now won 23 games in a row.

It was Winston's 20th career start, and Florida State has scored at least 30 points in all of them.

Winston -- who completed his first 13 pass attempts of the second half -- finished 23-of-31 for 273 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He is 53-of-67 for 590 yards, five touchdowns and one interception the past two weeks. While last week's win was over a bad Syracuse team, those two-week numbers still are extraordinary, considering the laser-like media attention focused on him the past 10 days. If voters can overlook his off-field issues, his play definitely deserves Heisman consideration.

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FSU was outgained 470 to 323, and Winston's passing numbers were all the more impressive because FSU's rushing attack was nonexistent -- 50 yards on 26 carries. But FSU did get two short second-half TD runs from tailback Karlos Williams.

Florida State's Rashad Greene, one of the nation's top two or three senior receivers, had eight receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown. FSU has struggled to find a consistent No. 2 wide receiver, and true freshman Travis Rudolph stated his case with six receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown; he had 11 career catches, for 152 yards, entering the game.

Senior linebacker Terrance Smith led the defensive effort with 11 tackles and a sack.

Notre Dame looked to be the final obstacle between Florida State and a second consecutive unbeaten regular season. The Seminoles have next week off, then travel to play Louisville on Oct. 30. There's also a road game Nov. 15 at Miami. The three home games remaining are Virginia, Boston College, and Florida. Louisville has a stout defense, but its offense won't scare the Seminoles. Miami is the opposite: a solid offense but shaky defense. B.C., Virginia, and especially non-conference foe Florida are limited offensively, so the Seminoles should be able to cruise into the ACC championship game for the second season in a row.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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