With its overtime win over Clemson tonight, Florida State proved that it’s the best team in the land. Every time the ‘Noles faced adversity, they managed to overcome it.
Make no mistake about it: FSU was at a decided disadvantage coming into the game. After all, Seminoles had to play this contest without Jameis Winston, who’s arguably one the greatest quarterbacks in college football history. Replacing a player of that caliber – especially on short notice – is a monumental task. It’s even tougher when the opponent is a divisional rival like Clemson, which circled this game on the calendar almost a year ago.
Despite Winston’s absence, Florida State got what it needed out of the quarterback position tonight. Sure, Clemson pressured Sean Maguire all night, producing five sacks and two fourth quarter interceptions. Yet, for the most part, Maguire turned in a solid effort, completing 21-of-39 passes for 305 yards. And, while he didn’t draw comparisons to Winston with his performance tonight, he did come through and make a play when the team needed it most, connecting with Rashad Greene for the tying score immediately after taking a 14-yard loss on a sack.
Of course, the ‘Nole defense deserves most of the credit for tonight’s victory. Yes, it gave up 407 yards of total offense, but it stood tall when it mattered most. After allowing Clemson to take a 17-10 lead with just 11:44 to play, the FSU front seven took over the contest. From that point on, the Tigers would only pick up one first down.
More importantly, the Seminole defense produced the game’s two most important plays. After an interception gave Clemson the ball at Florida State 26, the ‘Nole D forced and recovered a fumble, preventing the Tigers from taking the lead with under two minutes to play. It also came up with its biggest stop of the season, stuffing Clemson on fourth and one in overtime.
That, my friends, is what separates a championship squad from a really good football team. Anyone can win when the breaks go their way, but only a championship team is able to improvise, adapt, and overcome adversity.
Based on what we saw on the gridiron tonight, Florida State certainly falls into that latter category.