E-mail Pete Fiutak
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– Of course Florida State is going to make this difficult. Of course. The Seminoles could’ve made it so easy to make a definitive statement – even holding on to a nine-point lead late – but this is how they roll. Even with all of the struggles, no way, no how, no chance the undefeated defending national champion can be left out of the playoff no matter how it looked along the way. It would be absolutely impossible to avoid the national screaming if that happened. It will probably be debated by the committee, but FSU is in. It has to be.
– I knew it. I knew that Georgia Tech would be a nightmare to deal with. Give a team a month to prepare for the Yellow Jackets in a bowl game and things are fine – sometimes – but with a week to get ready after a physical day with Florida? Yikes. The Yellow Jacket offense was fantastic despite the absence of DeAndre Smelter to stretch the field. The Seminoles loaded up to stop the run, they have the speed and athleticism to contain things on the outside, the toughness on the inside, and the ground attack still rolled for 331 yards.
– Jameis Winston had a rocky year in every possible way, but when it truly mattered, he completed 21-of-30 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions. He got the job done, kept his cool, and was the Jameis Winston of last year.
– There’s Next Man Up, and there’s Florida State’s Next Man Up. Few places can lose a back like Karlos Williams, plug in Dalvin Cook, and be better. He dominated running for 177 yards and a score on 31 tough carries. Georgia Tech’s running game controlled the tempo, but Cook steadied the ship.
– 29 in a row. Rip on the Seminoles all you want, break down all the close calls, fire on all of the off-the-field problems, because it’s all justified. A Power 5 conference team has won three straight ACC titles and 29 games in a row. That’s pretty good.
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– Florida State gets backed into a corner. Florida State doesn’t operate like a playoff team. Florida State wins. After watching this Seminole team throughout the season, did you expect anything different tonight in Charlotte? The blueprint or this game was printed a long time ago.
– Magnificent job by the veteran Nole O-line tonight, possibly its best game of 2014. However, it needs to be noted that Georgia Tech is not very good at the point of attack, and hardly indicative of what FSU is going to face in January.
– Maybe QB Vad Lee didn’t transfer out of Georgia Tech in the offseason to play in a more passer-friendly attack after all. Maybe he saw what was coming behind him in Justin Thomas. Thomas has had a sensational first season as the starter, and still has two more years of eligibility left to learn under head coach Paul Johnson.
– Florida State needs to do a lot of work on defense over the next month. There’s far too much talent in Tallahassee for the Seminoles to get shoved around at the point of attack by a smallish Yellow Jacket offensive line.
– The Seminoles are not the best team in the playoffs. But they’ve got two distinct advantages over everyone else: They played in last year’s BCS National Championship Game, and no one can match their muscle memory for surviving tight games in the second half.
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– Florida State winning means three of the four spots are taken for the College Football Playoff. There’s simply no way, no how the Seminoles are left out of the mix with an undefeated record. Ugly or not, the spear is in the fight.
– Regardless of the outcome, hats off to Georgia Tech. Head coach Paul Johnson has been successful in establishing culture and pride within the program. The future is a good one, and it could be better if Johnson can mesh the hard-to-play style while ratcheting up the recruiting a bit.
-Florida State did its best impression of a fire dancer throughout the course of the season and despite being singed just a bit, managed to pull out all of the close ones. That’s not going to fly going forward. Juggle the same fire sticks and Oregon or Alabama are going to burn the backside of the Seminoles.
-The Seminoles have to be better on defense going forward. The talent is too good to continue to give up the yards and points in bushels against almost every kind of scheme. That’s going to result in a trip home after the semifinal if it continues.
-What are the chances that FSU quarterback Jameis Winston keeps his nose clean for almost a month before the College Football Playoff semi-finals? Let the clock begin.
E-mail Pete Fiutak