Florida State-Florida went exactly how you’d think it would

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Author @TheCoachBart

If you’ve never seen Jake and the Neverland Pirates, it’s a toddler cartoon on the Disney channel that’s a youthful spin-off from the Peter Pan series, where basically these kid pirates spend their eternity being young and goofing off with a ship to motor around in while a significantly dumber version of Captain Hook tries to take stuff from them in the pursuit of treasure.

Every so often, the Neverland Pirates get into these situations where they have no way out, and one of them … a girl named Izzy … dips into her bag of pixie dust that’s allegedly given to her by Tinker Bell and they get out of a jam with magic.

Supposedly, there’s a certain amount of pixie dust given to Izzy, but it seems endless. If it ever runs out, you figure that’s it for the show. Cue Florida State football, whose most recent victim on its “we can’t lose even when we try” tour was Florida. The Noles dipped into their endless bag of pixie dust, like Izzy, and you keep wondering how much more they have left in it.

The Noles won again in spite of another slow start; a myriad of bonehead plays both from a coaching staff and player perspective; an ominous call at the end; and a deep-seated desire to keep everything at nail-chewing level.

Jameis Winston was a special sort of horrendous in the first quarter, tossing up three picks, one which was taken by Florida inside the FSU 10. Yet, Winston was bailed out when his defense took a 94-yard pick-six to the house. Florida’s own ineptitude wouldn’t allow it to build a comfortable lead. Florida State was able to engineer a 14-point swing and turn a potential 16-0 deficit into a manageable 9-7 score.

The entire game played out like two people who make it to a stop sign at the same time, both drivers idiotically waving one another on but refusing to go while inching forward endlessly.

Eventually, FSU basically fell forward.


With just over two minutes left in regulation and the Seminoles leading by five, Florida was at its own 35-yard line staring down the barrel of fourth and eight with three timeouts. Will Muschamp correctly diagnosed his situation as knowing that he was only down 24-19. Even if Florida gave the ball back, Muschamp had all the timeouts in his quiver. At worst, if the Gators had gotten a three and out, they would have forced a long field goal and it still would have been a one possession game at 27-19.

Punting would have done the same thing, only with a touchdown securing a win. Then, however, Muschamp proved he actually didn’t diagnose the situation well at all, blowing a timeout and getting a gift on a pass interference call that’d make the NFL give the stink eye.

Game on, Florida.

Three plays later, it was another fourth and long and this time, no one was covering the open receiver to interfere with him, so it was just an incompletion on a poorly-thrown ball and another escape for Florida State.


Kirk Herbstreit, the television analyst for the game, astutely pointed out that the pop that has been in Jameis Winston and the Florida State offense throughout their amazing comeback wins was gone. This was was more about survival, but survival from ahead rather than some stirring comeback victory after some Come to Jesus-looking moment when the team figured it out.

Even for Jimbo Fisher, who alluded after the game that the staff needed to coach better, the old fail safe of “fake punt” didn’t turn the tide for anyone. FSU’s special teams were abhorrent. Their defense was exceptional. The offense was offensive.

Georgia Tech is next for Florida State’s almost unbelievable two-year run. A win in the ACC Championship Game would secure another shot at playing for a postseason college football championship. It doesn’t matter how you get there, only that you do.

Florida moves on to a new crossroads with a new coaching staff. Once again, the old issues that have plagued this Gator team under Will Muschamp resurfaced … they played hard, but couldn’t find offense when they needed it, and the clock management was peculiar.

And so, the Seminoles dip into their bag of pixie dust again, just long enough to break free from the shackles of a loss. Florida joins the long line of Captain Hooks just waiting to be foiled.