This Florida State team Jimbo Fisher assembled and led by Jameis Winston is special. They’re drowning in off the field controversy, but it’s not stopping them from leaping over every formidable hurdle on their way to another ACC title and probably making the College Football Playoffs, remaining undefeated after a big comeback win at Louisville.
The Cardinals, number 25 in the nation before the game, built up a 21-0 lead after two rushing touchdowns by Michael Dyer and another touchdown pass from Will Gardner to Gerald Christian. Dyer finished the game with 134 rushing yards and three touchdowns, but Gardner didn’t throw any more touchdown passes and was intercepted once, completing just over 50% of his passes. Florida State turned the ball over three times, three interceptions by Winston.
But just like in the win over Notre Dame, Winston put his mistakes behind him to pull his team forward with his teeth, scoring 24 consecutive points and eventually walking away with the 42-31 win that keeps them undefeated this season and good enough to be ranked at least at number two when the next set of polls and rankings come out. In the ACC, their remaining games are against Virginia, Boston College and a road game in Miami before their annual showdown against Florida, which aren’t exactly formidable at this stage.
With that kind of lineup set for them to plow through, it’s hard to see the Seminoles not ending up in the Final Four, although there’s also the ACC championship game to worry about. Regardless of who shows up for that, Florida State will be huge favorites to pull through. Winston, not consistent enough to win the Heisman this season up to this point, ended up with 401 yards and three touchdown passes, and with almost every aspect of the team declining this season, has been a special presence, overcoming his mistakes on and off the field.
The big difference in Winston’s performance was how he handled the blitz in the fourth quarter. Up until that point he completed passes for 57 yards, intercepted twice while being blitzed. In the fourth quarter, he averaged 13.6 yards per play on such passes, completing two of his passes for touchdowns. Florida State put up 374 yards in the second half, more than any other team has managed against Louisville in a full game all season.
Dalvin Cook ran for 110 yards on nine carries, scoring two touchdowns. Karlos Williams, not as dominant this season compared to the previous one, added 72 yards and some big first downs in the fourth quarter. Nick O’Leary and Travis Rudolph each caught passes for 76 yards, and although Florida State were held to 0 points through the first quarter for the third time this season, they seem to make up for the lost numbers anyhow, only in a more condensed fashion.
The Seminoles aren’t as good as they were last season, or at least not as dominant. It’s not stopping them from keeping that 0 under the loss column and keep on their impressive march towards a third consecutive ACC title and getting a go at defending their national title. The public opinion might be stacked against them because of who their quarterback is, but that’s not stopping him from rising above anything that has nothing to do with football.