Behind a solid, all-around effort on Saturday night in Charlotte, Florida State defeated Georgia Tech and guaranteed itself a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Judging by what we saw in the ACC Championship Game, the Seminoles are a threat to win it.
Make no mistake about it: this win will carry a lot of weight with the Selection Committee. Remember, when comparing like teams, the committee is supposed to factor in championships won, strength of schedule, and records versus common opponents when making its decision. In addition to capturing the ACC crown, the ‘Noles notched a victory over the 11th-ranked team in the country, which came into the contest as one of the hottest teams in the nation. Considering that the Yellow Jackets defeated Clemson (No. 18) and Georgia (No. 15) in their last two games, FSU’ strength of schedule should also increase as well.
In other words: there’s no way that the undefeated Seminoles are going to miss the College Football Playoff. Although the thought of an undefeated FSU squad missing the field kept talk radio shows and message boards buzzing all week, it’s simply not going to happen. The Seminoles’ resume clearly proves that they are one of the four best teams in college football.
Florida State certainly played like that on Saturday night. Sure, the final score says that the ‘Noles only won by two points, but the numbers don’t tell the entire story. The truth of the matter is FSU played a solid game on both sides of the ball.
For example, look at how well the Seminole defense played in the second half. Yes, it gave up its share of yardage, but as any defensive coordinator will tell you, it’s difficult to duplicate the speed of the option in practice. As a result, teams often struggle with it early until they get their timing down. However, when Florida State’s defense got used to the speed of the Tech attack, it owned this contest. In fact, after the Jackets scored to open the second half, the ‘Noles did not allow a drive of longer than 31 yards until giving up a score late in the game, when they led by two scores and did not have to make a stop at all costs.
Similarly, the offense turned in another impressive outing. After opening the game with a three and out, the Seminole offense would score on its next seven possessions, matching Georgia Tech score for score before puling away in the second half. The Jacket defense had absolutely no answers for the two-headed monster of Jameis Winson (21 for 30, 309 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT) and Dalvin Cook (31 carries for 177 yards, 5 catches for 43 yards).
Of course, the last two paragraphs should not surprise anyone. While the Seminoles haven’t always won with style points like some of the other top contenders, they’ve always found a way to get a ‘W’ even when things weren’t going their way. This type of courage under fire will come in handy when playing against the likes of Alabama, Oregon, and whoever else emerges as the fourth team in the field (probably Ohio State).
Does this mean Florida State will repeat as national champions?
That’s tough to say. All three of the teams above won their respective title games by huge margins.
But, I wouldn’t bet against them either. Every time that it looked like the ‘Noles were going to go down, they found a way to win. There’s no reason to think that it won’t happen again if they find themselves in that position in the postseason.