Assessing the wreckage: FSU’s loss, a day later

AP Photo/Phil Sears

It’s never easy to lose to a rival, and there aren’t a lot of sensible things to say in the hours following.

But after sleeping on it, Florida State’s 37-26 loss to the Florida Gators doesn’t get any less painful or annoying. We thought we knew so much, but it turns out we knew nothing about our football team.

We thought we were a better team. Than the Gators. Than the average ACC school. Than what we saw on the field on Saturday afternoon. We were wrong.

We thought our weak schedule wouldn’t come back to bite us in the rear end. Maybe the way we were spanking these teams meant we were a really good squad. We knew every team in the ACC not named Clemson was awful, but we took care of business in every game except, of course, the loss to NC State. We thought that one loss was a fluke, and maybe our players were just bored. We were wrong.

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We thought the Seminoles could handle getting hit in the face a couple of times. We were just fine against Clemson! The third quarter on Saturday was completely owned by FSU, and traditional thinking suggested that was going to be the turning point. Heck, for a minute, it looked like the game would turn into a blowout, and the Gators were getting run right off the field. But we hadn’t seen a football team like the Gators all season. We were wrong.

We thought nobody could come into Doak Campbell Stadium after a very shaky victory over Jacksonville State and get a win. You saw what we saw. The Gators looked so mediocre over the last several weeks that it seemed very likely they would lose in a hostile environment when they finally played someone with a defense. We were wrong.

We thought our offense would struggle mightily against the Gators’ vaunted defense, but our defense would be able to keep the score low and give the home team a chance to get the victory. As it turned out, the top-ranked defense in the nation held the Florida offense to a measly 37 points. Yeah, that was sarcasm. Nobody could score more than 37 points on the Gators’ defense. Of course, we didn’t expect to see our offense score more points than any other team on Florida’s schedule this season, either. We were wrong about that, too. Florida hadn’t allowed anyone to score more than 20 on them in 2012 until the Seminoles scored 26 last night.

We thought Jimbo Fisher would continue to take care of the SEC as he had done so far during his FSU tenure. As we learned, even that isn’t a given. Fisher was previously a combined 5-0 against Florida and Miami, but those teams weren’t very good. This year’s Florida team is really good, yet we thought we’d be able to stay ahead in the race for state supremacy. We were wrong.

We were wrong about a lot of things, and I’ll admit I didn’t see this loss coming. At least not in the fashion it came.

Now, the bleeding must stop quickly. There’s still an ACC title and an Orange Bowl out there for the taking. It’s time to salvage this season.

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