FSU Football Falling? What’s Wrong With the Only Unbeaten Left
754 days. 2 years and 24 days. That is how far you have to go back to find an L on the Florida State Seminoles Men’s Football schedule, which came at the hands of the then ranked #6 Florida Gators in a 37-26 defeat. So if all they do is win, why can’t the Seminoles stay atop the College Football Playoff and AP Top 25 Rankings?
In the College Football Playoff Rankings, the undefeated Seminoles (13-0) sit at #3, behind Oregon (12-1 #2) and Alabama (12-1 #1). Since the CFPR were released in Week 10 of the season, the ‘Noles have spent exactly 0, yes you read that correctly, 0 weeks in the #1 spot and in Week 15, Jameis Winston & Co. fell as far as #4 despite being the only undefeated team in Division 1 football. And although they have yet to suffer a loss, they have also been booted from the top overall spot in the AP Top 25 (#2), although this ranking is irrelevant with regards to the Playoffs and determining a national champion.
The Seminoles have found themselves falling in the rankings, because just as easily as they are 13-0, they could be 6-7 and instead of contending for a national championship, they’d be at home, ineligible for even the most insignificant of bowls. In 6 of those 7 games, Florida State was within one score of losing and in the other potential loss, which was a 42-31 win over Louisville, the Seminoles faced an early 21 point deficit. Only one year after comfortably being the best team in the country in terms of margin of victory at +38.8 points per game, they are ranked twenty-first (+10.7) despite playing an easier, albeit fairly similar, schedule to the one in their 2013 regular season campaign. In that 2013 regular season, there was not a single game in which they won by less than 27 points. Now, in their 2014 regular season, they have only broken this mark of winning by more than 27 points once, which came during a 43-3 rout of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, who finish their own season at an atrocious 3-9 and in last place in the ACC.
The other most apparent reason for their struggle and subsequent ranking drop is the major dropoff in play from their former Heisman quarterback, Famous Jameis Winston. One year after putting up arguably the best freshman season of all time, his numbers have dropped in every single statistical category. Last season, on only 384 attempts, he threw for 4057 yards with a completion rate of 66.9%, while this year he has only thrown for 3559 yards on 38 more passing attempts, completing 65.4% of his throws. His yards per attempt has also seen a large drop off, going from an astounding 10.57 to 8.43 and his QBR has fallen nearly 40 points (184.8 to 147.0). However, the most glaring of all his miscues is his alarming descent is his touchdown to interception ratio. In 2013, he threw for 40 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions (a ratio of 4:1). In 2014, he has thrown for significantly less touchdowns and a staggering amount of interceptions. His 24 touchdowns and 17 interceptions (a ratio of 1.4:1) accounts for one of the most egregious drops in the history of the sport.
The Florida State Seminoles have come very close to the jaws of defeat this year, but they cannot seem to lose. The drop in the rankings, the decline of Winston- none of this will matter if the Seminoles continue to do what they are seemingly bred to do, and keep winning football games. With their semi-final playoff matchup with the Oregon Ducks only days away, we will get to see first hand if their slide in the rankings is warranted.
Prediction: FSU does what they’ve done all season and puts themselves in an early hole. Oregon’s fiery offense and stingy defense won’t allow a comeback and the Ducks will on to win. Final score Oregon 35, FSU 24.