Jameis Winston walked off the field Saturday night with his finger placed over his lips, but he had already silenced those in attendance at Sun Life Stadium, and as his critics around the country. Whether we like it or not, neither the law nor opposing teams have been able to beat Winston’s Florida State. They haven’t lost since before his first start last fall — 26 games ago.
The Seminoles appeared dead and buried against Miami Saturday, down 23-7 in the second quarter, but we should’ve known better. Hell, we’ve already seen this movie a couple times this season. Just as the Noles overcame a 17-point deficit against North Carolina State in September, and a 21-point hole at Louisville in October, Winston and company gave their fans a November moment to remember by rallying to defeat the Hurricanes, 30-26.
In Tallahassee, Florida State’s resiliency has become the stuff of legend, and with each win the legend grows. This team just seems to thrive with its back up against the wall. Throw in mounting off-field issues, and you get an FSU team with an us-against-the-world mentality. Every new challenge only serves to add fuel to the fire.
None of the controversies (plural) surrounding the Noles this season have slowed the program’s momentum. Just last week, the school picked up a commitment from the top-ranked quarterback of the 2016 recruiting class: Malik Henry. Winston’s heir apparent.
So who, or what, can threaten the Seminoles?
In the regular season, nobody. Florida State should beat Boston College and Florida in the final two games, with only the ACC Championship Game standing in the way of another undefeated season and a berth in the College Football Playoff. While a loss in any of their remaining games seems unlikely, those wins are crucial. With their home-win over Notre Dame standing out as their most-impressive in the eyes of the committee, FSU could miss the playoffs with a single slip.
On paper, Florida State deserves a lot of credit for scheduling what was supposed to be a tough non-conference slate. The Noles can’t help it if Oklahoma State and Florida have underperformed this season, and Notre Dame has taken steps back since the two teams played last month. The ACC just hasn’t been good, dealing a huge blow to the Seminoles’ strength of schedule.
FSU has no control over who they play in-conference. Their hope was that a few teams would separate themselves from the pack to make their schedule at least a bit more impressive, but that never really happened. Clemson and Louisville each have three losses, and neither Georgia Tech or Duke excites anyone as a potential Coastal Division champion. This leaves the Noles without a conference victory to brag about.
With three games to go, Florida State’s margin for error is thin. A loss this late in the year could prove more disastrous than the program’s next run-in with the law.
Given what we’ve seen of late though, maybe the Seminoles are exactly where they want to be.