Earlier in the week, I instructed Florida State fans to enjoy Saturday night’s game against Clemson, because win or lose, everything would change afterward.
I’ll go out on a limb and say I was correct about that prognostication.
A 51-14 boatracing wasn’t an outcome anyone had in mind, but it sure was fun for FSU fans, including myself. There was nothing ordinary about Saturday night in Death Valley, and now, there’s no turning down the hype surrounding the Seminoles.
It was the way they destroyed the Tigers that was especially striking. The team’s poise reminded me of the Alabama Crimson Tide’s dynasty that has been built over the last five years. No matter how big the venue, Nick Saban’s bunch never seems to be shaken, and that’s what I saw from the Seminoles in the middle of Death Valley.
This game was supposed to be a Clemson coronation. They had rolled over two SEC schools, LSU and Georgia, in their last seven games, and next, they were going to beat the rival Seminoles, putting themselves in the fast lane to the national title game. Then, nothing about that blueprint went right.
Freshman quarterback Jameis Winston was supposed to have at least one freshman moment in a game of a magnitude he’d never seen, played in a massive, loud stadium he’d never experienced. The defense, which yielded 34 points to Boston College just three weeks ago, should have struggled against the high-powered Clemson offense. Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley was supposed to feast on the FSU offensive line (he had just two tackles and no sacks for the night).
FSU wasn’t supposed to beat its last two opponents – Maryland and Clemson, who were both ranked when the ‘Noles played them – by an average of 50 points. They shouldn’t have set the all-time record for points scored by an opponent in a game at Death Valley, but their 51 points were the most ever.
Now, we can have fun as FSU fans. I totally understand how important it is to get a championship when the stars align because injuries or fate may prevent the Seminoles to win one in future years of the Winston era, but it’s not all about titles. Finally, we have a team that’s fun to watch. There’s so much talent on both sides of the ball, and the coaches have figured out ways to showcase it. When you turn on an FSU game, you’re going to see something exciting, something groundbreaking, and it’s just a pleasure to be a small part of.
Yes, the stakes are raised, and if Florida State doesn’t win out, sportswriters will grill us. They want so badly to declare the Seminoles “back” and be right about it for once. We’ve let them down so many times that they’re afraid to even type that word and hit “publish.”
But this team is ours, not theirs. How lucky we are to be able to say that.