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“Climbing faster than expected.” Florida State is turning the corner under coach Mike Norvell

Florida State's emotional victory over Florida on Friday night at Doak Campbell Stadium drew loud cheers as fans stormed the field.

The scene capped an impressive turnaround — and an unforgettable season — for the football program under third-year coach Mike Norvell.

“I was so proud of the team and staff, the atmosphere was electric and it felt like the old FSU vs. UF games,” said former FSU and NFL tailback Sammie Smith, playing his first home game visited for more than seven years.

Trey Benson's 17-yard touchdown run with 4:06 remaining llifted No. 16 FSU to a 45-38 win over Florida. The Gators dominated the field in the final minutes, but Anthony Richardson's fourth-down pass under pressure over the middle failed with 39 seconds left.

It was FSU's first win over the Gators since 2017 and the first time in six seasons that it defeated UF and Miami in the same year. The Seminoles (9-3) are bowl eligible for the first time since 2019 and will post their first winning season since 2017.

The FSU-UF showdown entertained the sellout crowd of 79,560 and television audiences on ABC. It was the highest-scoring game in the rivalry's history since 1958.

The teams combined for 957 total yards – 497 by FSU.

Benson had 111 yards rushing and three touchdowns, and quarterback Jordan Travis ran for 83 yards and two touchdowns. He also completed 13 of 30 passes for 270 yards.

This was the eighth time FSU exceeded the 35-point mark in a game this season. The Seminoles also extended their winning streak to five games, the team's longest since

The year 2016 ended with five wins in a row.

Norvell, who posted an 8-13 record in his first two seasons at FSU, is once again proving his worth. As a head coach, he is now 20-6 in November, including 4-0 this year.

Norvell said building trust is an important part of the process.

“Being able to take that ownership and be honest with your players to build trust,” Norvell said after Friday’s win.

“The very first day I got here I told the players that I will never ask them to trust me, okay? All I ask is an opportunity to prove that I am trustworthy. This is what you have to do.” that they can see it through actions. It can't be here one day, there the next day. You have to be able to go through this process with them.

FSU managed 227 yards, surpassing the 200-yard mark for the seventh straight game. That's the longest streak in the country this season and the longest for FSU since 1987 – Smith's redshirt sophomore season at FSU, when he had 1,230 rushing yards.

“I thought Benson was great and ran with great enthusiasm,” Smith said. “Plus, Jordan Travis makes the difference. They are a playoff contender when he returns next season.”

Reach Jim Henry at jjhenry@tallahassee.com.

This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Florida State regains national prominence under Mike Norvell

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