The Seminoles have not played a single snap in 10 days, and will have to wait another 11 before returning to the gridiron. With a 24-7 loss to Alabama still fresh in the minds of AP voters, Florida State continues to slip out of the playoff picture. The Week 3 Top 25 poll saw FSU fall another spot to No. 11, despite not playing last week due to the threat of Hurricane Irma.
Perhaps an intense three-week training camp is exactly what true freshman James Blackman needed to get accustomed to the Fisher offense, after being named the starting quarterback in the wake of Deondre Francois’ season-ending patella tendon tear. However, it is that same three-week hiatus that is responsible for FSU’s drop in the rankings.
The Seminoles have had three different scheduled home openers due to weather concerns. Originally, Blackman was set to make his first start against Louisiana Monroe at home on Sep. 9, until that game was cancelled. Then it was Miami, with the pressure of keeping the winning streak over the Hurricanes alive on the freshman’s shoulders, until the UM game was rescheduled to October 7. Now, barring any other interruptions, Blackman knows exactly what he’s going to see – the NC State Wolf pack on September 23.
Two full weekends without football in Tallahassee will certainly find the Seminoles fully prepared and hungry come their late September home opener, but it sets Florida State back on a national scale. Due to no fault of their own, Florida State is no longer the talk of the land. Teams like Oklahoma, which jumped to No. 2 after a win over Ohio State capped off by Baker Mayfield spiking an OU flag at the 50, Southern Cal, which easily handled PAC 12 rival Stanford at home, and Penn State, which is outscoring opponents 85-14 in two weeks, have taken over the conversation. These three teams, along with Alabama and Clemson, round out the top five teams in college football.
Florida State is a huge question mark right now.
The defense is elite, there is no question there, it’s the other side of the ball that leaves room for concern. Will the Seminoles start a true freshman running back/quarterback combination Week 5 against NC State and their ferocious front line? If so, will it work?
Although the brunt of the storm missed Florida’s capital city, the Seminoles football program felt its effects early in the season. Although eliminating one of two “cupcakes” on the schedule in Louisiana Monroe (the other being Delaware State) will work in favor for Florida State, there is no room for error the rest of the year.
The NC State game, like every game for the Seminoles now, is a must win. Not only must Florida State beat the Wolfpack, which they narrowly defeated by four points a season ago, but it must be a statement game. Blackman must turn heads, Cam Akers must run circles around the front line and the defense must limit quarterback Ryan Finley. Everything about this game must scream “Florida State is back,” as the Seminoles scratch their way back to the top of the AP Poll.
Currently, the Seminoles are the second highest ranked ACC team, behind No. 3 Clemson, and ahead of No. 14 Louisville, No. 16 Virginia Tech and No. 17 Miami and are the highest of four ranked teams in the state of Florida.
It will be quite some time before the first College Football Playoff Rankings are released. A season ago, the first ranking came out on November 1 and saw Florida State near the bottom of the list at No. 23 with five wins to three losses.
For the Seminoles, absenteeism on the field mixed with the loss of Francois has dug a deep hole ahead of the home opener. An impressive showing against NC State and Wake Forest to begin conference play coupled with an eighth straight victory over Miami will go a long way towards bringing the spotlight back to Florida State.