Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, September 21, 2012 at 4:10 AM
One year and five days ago, the Florida State Seminoles were in position to make a national statement. They were ranked #5 in the country, and they were playing host to the #1 Oklahoma Sooners. FSU had been greatly hyped by the media entering the season as a potential National Championship threat. Were they to beat the #1 team in front of a national TV audience…they would be very well positioned on the BCS fast track.
*The press was already in love with them
*Everyone remembers what happens on TV
*The power brokers were anxious to get behind a non-SEC team
*The ACC looked like it was there for the taking last September, meaning FSU would be in control of their destiny in terms of running the table and making some history.
Well, the statement FSU made that night and the next few weeks wasn’t certainly memorable, if not history making:
*FSU lost at home to Oklahoma 23-13, struggling badly on offense all night (only 27 rushing yards!)
*FSU lost the next week to Clemson 35-30
*FSU was then shocked at Wake Forest by the same 35-30 score!
Instead of a 5-0 start and a win over Oklahoma, Florida State was 2-3 after five games! They did win five games in a row after that against ACC weaklings. But, a late season loss to Virginia was embarrassing, ultimately leading to a 9-4 finish for a Seminoles team that had been a preseason darling.
The pollsters and pundits were embarrassed…not just because a #5 team in mid-September would finish 9-4…but that they would lose to both Wake Forest and Virginia!
Florida State got its revenge on Wake Forest last week, utterly obliterating the Deamon Deacons. Now it’s time to do the same thing to Clemson.
CLEMSON at FLORIDA STATE (8 p.m. on ABC)
Las Vegas Spread: Florida State by 14, total of 57
FSU opened at -12, and was bet up to -14 by Vegas sharps who were impressed at the potency of the revenge angle for FSU last Saturday. We’re hearing a lot of great things from sharps about what this Seminoles squad has done so far. Yes, the schedule has been easy. But, the loaded roster is playing up to expectations in terms of athleticism and intensity. The Seminoles beat expectations in that game by about five touchdowns! There is a point where dog players will come in on Clemson. They’re waiting to see what the public does with this high profile TV favorite.
CURRENT AP POLL RANKINGS
Florida State: #4
Florida State once again finds itself in the top five at home in a big TV game. Maybe that’s too high once again (and, let’s not forget that Oklahoma turned out to be a false #1!). We’ve spent a lot of time in recent years talking about how the media has overrated FSU. It’s like they’re a Big Ten team! The media assumes the talent is there because of recruiting analysis…and they pencil in greatness even though it’s been a long time since anything great has really happened here. Well, we’ve seen enough to keep us off that anti-FSU bandwagon for now. They didn’t play like an overrated team last week. Clemson is certainly in for its toughest test of the season by far. Their season opening 7-point win over Auburn doesn’t look very impressive now that the Tigers got blasted by Mississippi State and struggled with Louisiana-Monroe. Maybe the Tigers are 10-15 spots too high. Maybe both teams are!
Clemson: Dabo Swinney
Florida State: Jimbo Fisher
Both have their fans and detractors. Fisher’s been a disappointment at FSU in terms of national expectations. Maybe this is the year he breaks through. Swinney has scored some big wins, but that bowl debacle vs. West Virginia is going to linger over the program and his reputation for awhile longer.
Clemson: Tajh Boyd
Florida State: EJ Manuel
Similar quarterbacks here in terms of their potential to do great things or to make poor decisions when pressured. Clemson has played some very exciting games with Boyd at quarterback as a result. Manuel has lost much of the national luster he enjoyed when he first got the job. Possibly, Manuel more than anyone is looking to make a statement here.
LAST WEEK’S BOXES
CLEMSON 41, FURMAN 7
Total Yardage: Furman 352, Clemson 498
Rushing Yards: Furman 110, Clemson 184
Passing Stats: Furman 20-34-2-242, Clemson 23-34-1-314
Turnovers: Furman 2, Clemson 1
Third Downs: Furman 14%, Clemson 31%
Vegas Line: Clemson by 40
It’s hard to complain about a 41-7 victory where an offense gains almost 500 yards. Nobody nitpicks better than us! Red flags do show up in garbage games like this. We’re not impressed by the 31% mark on third downs against a soft defense…or the 184 rushing yards. Clemson used its athletic advantage to make some big passing plays. They won’t have an athletic advantage over FSU. They’ll need to do a better job of moving the chains on the road at #5 FSU than they did at home against weak sister Furman.
FLORIDA STATE 52, WAKE FOREST 0
Total Yardage: Wake Forest 126, Florida State 612
Rushing Yards: Wake Forest 43, Florida State 385
Passing Stats: Wake Forest 10-24-0-83, Florida State 19-28-0-227
Turnovers: Wake Forest 0, Florida State 1
Third Downs: Wake Forest 6%, Florida State 46%
Vegas Line: Florida State by 28, total of 51
Wow. Those are the kind of numbers you’d see against Savannah State or Western Nobody. FSU did that in a CONFERENCE game against a team that had beaten them last year with a lot of the same personnel! Amazing numbers across the board. Folks, that’s the boxscore of a legitimate national title threat! Maybe that represents a peak that FSU won’t be able to get back to. In context, it’s a heckuva peak.
The biggest key to this one is determining how much of last week was FSU catching Wake Forest at just the right time (FSU was fresh, Wake was coming off a grueling conference game vs. North Carolina, FSU had big time revenge). If that was a blowout of circumstance, the circumstances are slightly different this week. Clemson is a lot bigger threat than Wake Forest talent wise. But, we still have revenge…and it’s not like FSU’s starters wore themselves out last week because they didn’t play much in the second half. FSU is still fresh, has motivation…and perhaps has a statement in mind about the return to greatness of a program that’s been underachieving for far too long.
Basically…it’s either the coming out party that everyone was expecting a year ago…or it’s another flunked test for an FSU team that just can’t get the job done when it matters.
JIM HURLEY may or may not have a big play in this one for his clients on Saturday. There are great games all over the card…and only the best go out on the final ledger. We preview the big TV games for you here in the NOTEBOOK (look for Michigan-Notre Dame here Saturday!) to help set the stage. JIM HURLEY puts on the show!
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