CLEMSON, S.C. — It was another lost opportunity for Florida State, one that slipped through its fingers.
Mistakes and offensive inefficiency cost FSU (3-6, 3-5 ACC) in a 31-14 loss to No. 4 Clemson on Saturday. The loss leaves Jimbo Fisher's team needing wins in its remaining three games against Delaware State, Florida and Louisiana-Monroe to qualify for a bowl game. The program hasn't missed a bowl since 1981.
This one seemed particularly painful for the Seminoles, with the two programs — at least on the surface — going in opposite directions.
Clemson (9-1, 7-1) wrapped up the Atlantic Division title, setting up a meeting with Miami in the ACC title game on Dec. 2.
FSU, meanwhile, has suffered through a season marked by key injuries and inconsistent play from its younger athletes.
"Our kids are learning, that's for sure," Fisher said. "We can continue to grow from this, but they competed very hard, played very hard and made a heck of a run to have a chance to be in it.
"But again, just relax and make the play when we have to. Whether it's offense, defense, special teams, we just can't seem to make that play when we need to make it."
FSU mounted a late rally, cutting the deficit to 17-14 midway through the fourth quarter, but a James Blackman interception crushed any shot at a comeback.
"Five minutes to go, we were right there and had a chance, and we let it slip away from us," Fisher said.
"We usually find a way to win games like these. We've got to find that again."
Blackman never looked comfortable running the offense as Clemson applied relentless pressure throughout the game. It seemed as if a Tigers defender was in the freshman quarterback's face at every turn, and Blackman was sacked five times. Two of those sacks led to fumbles recovered by Clemson.