The host Green Wave upset the No. 9 Seminoles as Jon English threw a 15-yard touchdown pass and Tony Wood kicked two field goals in a second-half rally.
Trailing, 21-14, at the half, the Green Wave rallied behind the play of English and running back Elton Veals. Florida State had gone ahead with 21 points in the second quarter.
Veals tied the score at 21-21 early in the third quarter on a 39-yard run. Wood gave Tulane a 24-21 lead with a 39-yard field goal, and English's scoring pass to Wayne Smith made it 31-21.
The Seminoles closed to 31-28 on a one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Kelly Lowrey, but Wood countered with a 40-yard field goal.
English, a transfer playing because a court injunction has prevented the NCAA from declaring him ineligible, completed 16 of 29 passes for 210 yards.
Tulane scored first when strong safety Treg Songy intercepted a pass by Lowrey and returned it 99 yards for a touchdown. The Green Wave made it 14-0 on the first play of the second period on a 77-yard punt return by Curt Baham. Both teams are 2-1.
"We need to start stopping people on defense," Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden said. "We're never going to make it to the big time unless we can stop somebody." The Seminoles yielded 80 points in their first two games.