Deondre Francois’ first collegiate start didn’t begin well, but by the end of a lengthy and eventful second half, the freshman quarterback placed his come-from-behind work above Jameis Winston’s in the Florida State record book.
Francois helped the No. 4 Seminoles to erase a 22-point deficit, for the biggest comeback victory in school history, en route to what became a demonstrative opening-night performance against No. 11 Mississippi. Finishing off a 45-34 Labor Day conquest for the favored Seminoles at Camping World Stadium, Francois finished with 420 yards on 33-of-52 passing and threw for two touchdowns to stun the Rebels.
The Orlando, Fla., native’s homecoming culminated in a seismic win for Florida State, which won 17th straight game in either August or September. That is the longest active streak in Division I-FBS. The 19-year-old signal-caller added 59 rushing yards on nine attempts to nearly give him 500 yards of total offense in his debut.
Florida State trailed 28-6 in the second quarter before going on a 33-0 run to seize command. Francois helped the Seminoles overtake their 2014 iteration’s place in comeback lore, with the 22-point rally surpassing the ’14 effort against Louisville. That featured a sophomore version of Winston leading the ‘Noles to a 42-31 victory after they trailed 21-0.
Dalvin Cook played a big part in both games. Against the Cardinals as a true freshman, the running back phenom rushed for two second-half touchdowns to keep that team’s College Football Playoff hopes alive. Nearly two years later, the junior ball-carrier rushed for 91 yards and became the first Florida State back in 10 years — since Lorenzo Booker — to gain more than 100 receiving yards. The Heisman Trophy candidate finished with seven receptions for 101 yards.