As the dust from rivalry week settles, Florida State remain unscathed, undefeated, and the only team no one has a doubt about when it comes to their place in the national championship game. They’ve added a 37-7 win over Florida with yet another Heisman-worthy performance from Jameis Winston, and are still waiting for the one team to test them, something that hasn’t happened this season.
Will it be Duke in the ACC championship game? Their records suggest it won’t. Duke had struggles against most of the teams they faced in the ACC this season. Florida State? The “trickiest” game they faced was a 14 points win in Boston College. They beat three ranked teams – Maryland (by 63 points), Clemson (by 37) and Miami (by 27) along the way, and what before this season began should have been their toughest test turned out to be one huge dud, as the sad Gators crashed at home, suffering their biggest home loss ever in this rivalry.
The Florida defense actually managed to slow down the Seminoles for most of the first half, but there’s only so much you can do without an offense, gaining only 78 yards on the ground, which is impossible to live with in College Football, especially without a strong offensive line or a quarterback that commands respect from the opponents. On the other end, Jameis Winston finished with 327 passing yards, throwing three touchdown passes (including two for 45 and 29 yards), making it even clearer who is going to be the Heisman Trophy winner when this season ends.
It is the first time since 1999 that Florida State finished the regular season at 12-0, the year they last won the national championship. It served as quite a disntict difference from what Florida have fallen to – losing the final 7 games of the season to finish it at 4-8 – their worst season since 1979, and also means that they won’t be playing in a bowl game for the first time since 1990. Thus ends the second-longest bowl game streak in the country. The longest? Belongs to the Seminoles.
There’s more than just Winston to this team. There’s the never ending line of running backs, gaining 204.8 yards per game. Devonta Freeman finished with 44 yards and the only touchdown on the ground, and James Wilder Jr. led all rushers with 63 yards on 11 carries. That’s before we mention the defense, that’s allowed only 11 points per game this season and an average win margin of 43.7 points. Still, Jimbo Fisher felt a special need to mostly keep his praises for Winston, who had no problem filling in for EJ Manuel as a redshirt freshman, helping the team take a surprising next step towards finally being the number one team in the nation.
His competitiveness is ridiculous. He’s a competitor. Nothing fazes that guy. He thrives on that. … The guy’s ability to learn and process information is what puts him over the top. He can think. He understands what he’s doing at all times. And when he makes a mistake, he can come off and tell you exactly why he did it, what he did or didn’t do right.