Following the January 2001 Orange Bowl BCS Title that Florida State lost 13-2 to Oklahoma, the Seminoles started a slow unmistakable decline in their program. It culminated in a humiliating 30-0 home loss to Wake Forest on November 11, 2006. To me at that point any shred of connection to the once great Seminole teams of the past was officially dead. The Noles quit that day.
Florida State muddled around for a couple of more years slightly above mediocrity, and at the end of 2009 season Hall of Fame coach Bobby Bowden was nudged out the door. The Seminoles needed a change from top to bottom in the program. Florida State was no longer contending for national titles, they weren’t contending for ACC Titles, not even ACC Atlantic Division titles. Nobody feared Florida State anymore.
If November 11, 2006 was the death of Florida State football, October 20, 2013 was the rebirth. I was there to witness it. The 51-14 annihilation of a Clemson team that went 11-2 last year, 10-4 the year before, had wins over LSU and over a healthy Georgia team in the last 11 months. They hadn’t lost to anyone in the ACC not named Florida State since 2011. This was a good Clemson team, with a good quarterback in Tajh Boyd and they were at home.
What I saw was brilliant, shocking, and in the end down right scary. The only way I can describe it was if you weren’t old enough to remember the 1990s Seminoles, this is what is looked like. Receivers that caught everything and are great in space, great QB play, and an intimidating defense that is fast and physical. The only difference is Jameis Winston might be the best QB the Seminoles have ever had. I’d still like to see him in a 2 minute situation before I anoint him the greatest of all time at FSU. I mean Charlie Ward was pretty special himself. Maybe those 90s teams were a little speedier off the edges, but I’m nit picking here.
In particular the Clemson WR’s played and looked intimidated by the Florida State defensive backs. Regularly pushed off their routes at the line of scrimmage, they looked at out of sync from the beginning to the point they were even dropping wide open passes later in the game. There aren’t really enough adjectives to describe what the Seminoles did Saturday.
Head coach Jimbo Fisher has rebuilt Florida State since his arrival in 2010. He has brought the Seminoles full circle and to the brink of playing for a national title. Credit the ACC’s better teams, that the Seminoles schedule won’t be questioned. Clemson may have been overrated at #3, but they had earned their spot in the top 10. Miami has moved to #6 in the Coaches poll setting up a titanic game in two weeks between the two that John Swofford has dreamed of since Miami joined the conference.
The Hurricanes will be at a severe talent disadvantage, but they are undefeated, and the ranking even if a bit lofty will catch voters and computers attention. Waiting in the wings could be Miami again or a rapidly improving Virginia Tech team that might be 11-1 by the time the ACC Title game comes around.
Did I leave out Florida? They did beat the Noles just last year. The game is in Gainesville, but with the Gators making crossing midfield a challenge does anyone think they can actually beat FSU? The Gators may struggle to get bowl eligible, which probably makes this season even more satisfying for Seminole fans.