No matter what Florida State do, they’re not a team that played well enough to make the playoff, even after winning the ACC championship game with a 37-35 win over Georgia Tech. But they’re undefeated in a power five conference, not to mention the defending national champion, and so they’ll make it into the top 4 selected by the committee.
It was another slow start for the Seminoles, trailing for most of the first half as the Yellow Jackets decided to forget about throwing the ball, attempting only 14 passes the entire game. They ran 59 times for 331 yards, scoring four touchdowns, but 214 of those rushing yards came in the first half. The moment Florida State took their first lead (28-21 with 00:30 left in the half) Georgia Tech stopped being as effective on the round, slowly losing the advantage of the early goings.
Jameis Winston didn’t disappoint, throwing three touchdown passes, throwing for 309 yards and completing 21-of-30 passes. Dalvin Cook had a huge day on the ground with 177 yards, while Rashad Greene and Nick O’Leary were once again the pillars on which Winston relied upon. Greene caught 7 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns, O’Leary added 97 yards on 3 receptions, catching one touchdown pass. All of Winston’s touchdown passes came in the first half.
Florida State distances themselves with three consecutive field goals to open a nine-point lead. Georgia Tech answered back with a Darren Waller touchdown reception, but with only 1:30 left on the clock, two points now separating them from the Seminoles. For the second time in three years, Georgia Tech proved to be quite a match for Florida State, but somewhere along the way the talent gap punched through and carried the Seminoles to the title.
Dalvin Cook’s performance trails only C.J. Spiller and his 233 yards from the 2009 championship game. Greene became the ACC’s all-time leading receiver with 3771 yards throughout his career, leaving Conner Vernon from Duke (2009-2012) behind, beating him by 22 yards.
Florida State are going to another championship finale, although this one takes two games to win. Do they deserve it? Deserve is a word that can be interpreted differently by a lot of people. They didn’t convince, but won their games, and are undefeated going back to the end of the 2012 season. There might be better teams out there, but based on the conditions expected from a playoff team, they meet the requirements without actually impressing anyone.