Don’t expect Florida State to lose a second consecutive game on Saturday. That hasn’t happened to Jimbo Fisher since 2011.
We’re talking 66 games without back-to-back losses. Only Oregon, at 70 games, has gone longer in that category.
Of course, FSU’s 63-20 disaster at Louisville last week was a bonafide shocker. It reset the entire ACC race and had the people who projected the Seminoles in the College Football Playoff field feeling pretty foolish.
There’s no reason why FSU shouldn’t handle 3-0 South Florida this week, though. Jimbo has the team’s full attention now, and the humiliation of losing that way to Louisville will provide plenty of motivation. No team had ever scored 63 on the Seminoles, and that covers all the lean years prior to Bobby Bowden’s arrival at the school.
There were six games last year where the FSU basketball team didn’t allow 63 points, for crying out loud.
Reminds me of a few other times, however, when devastating scores were dropped on state teams but the effects were shaken off very quickly.
In 1998, Butch Davis’ Miami Hurricanes took a 66-13 beating at Syracuse in late November. One week later they returned to the Orange Bowl to upset No. 3 UCLA 49-45.
Steve Spurrier had to take his medicine, too, in the national championship game following the 1995 season. Florida came in unbeaten but lost the Fiesta Bowl to Nebraska by the startling score of 62-24.
One year later the Gators won their first national championship, blasting FSU 52-20.
As for FSU’s chances of making the College Football Playoff field and possible a spot in the national championship game at Tampa, consider this.
Ohio State and Oregon played in the inaugural national title game under the new playoff format and they got there after taking surprising losses early in the season. The Buckeyes lost to Virginia Tech in September of 2014 and Oregon lost to Arizona. In each case the opponents were unranked and in each case Ohio State and Oregon were top-10 teams playing at home.
By that measure, losing to No. 10 Louisville on the road shouldn’t disqualify FSU from anything at this point. Let’s see how the rest of the ACC season plays out.
Louisville plays at Clemson on Oct. 1. Four weeks later Clemson is at FSU.
Now if you want to argue the other side of this thing, looking at FSU’s 6-4 record in its last 10 games as the sign of a serious decline, this South Florida game is the real litmus test. It was a 17-7 September loss to the Bulls in Tampa that ultimately convinced everyone that 2009 should be Bowden’s final season.
My view is that Jimbo has got things tightened down a lot better than that. Louisville is going to make a lot of teams look bad this year. Suddenly they’re a national title contender.
The Seminoles have nine more games, including dates with Miami and Florida, to prove that they are, too.