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Why this North Carolina upset was better than the last one for FSU, Mike Norvell

“This is a team that, they believe,” Norvell says.
Florida State wide receiver Ontaria Wilson and the Seminoles have beaten North Carolina in back-to-back years.
Florida State wide receiver Ontaria Wilson and the Seminoles have beaten North Carolina in back-to-back years. [ GERRY BROOME | AP ]
Published Oct. 11

Florida State coach Mike Norvell was able to enjoy his 40th birthday Monday after his Seminoles’ upset win at North Carolina over the weekend.

“I was a lot happier after this one than I was, really, a year ago,” Norvell said during his weekly news conference.

Though North Carolina was better last year — the Tar Heels were ranked fifth nationally and went on to play in the Orange Bowl — Norvell savored Saturday’s win more than the one from 2020 because of how they happened.

Related: Has FSU football coach Mike Norvell done what he promised on Day 1?

A year ago, FSU jumped out to a 24-0 lead but gave up 21 points in the final 20 minutes to hold on for the win. This one was different. The Seminoles fell behind by 10 but responded and pulled away for a 35-25 victory. They played cleanly (five penalties for 50 yards), and the offensive line blocked better. The incremental progress Norvell has been seeing on the practice fields showed up with his first road victory at FSU.

Norvell stressed that his Seminoles remain under construction, even after back-to-back victories heading into this weekend’s open date. He said they’re still “working to figure things out” as they enter the second half of the season.

But they’re playing with a confidence that could have disappeared after the 0-4 start.

Related: Treshaun Ward bet on himself as an FSU walk-on. It’s paying off, for his family and the Seminoles.

“This is a team that, they believe,” Norvell said. “You see it in their eyes.”

And, finally, on the scoreboard, too.

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