TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – The Florida State Seminoles have teased national writers and fans the last few years as being ready to compete for a national championship. Loaded with talent, the Noles always got tripped up by some team that shouldn't have beaten them.
Not this year.
For the first time since Bobby Bowden's Noles teams of the late 1990's, FSU is in a prime position to make a run at the BCS National Championship. FSU hasn't played for the title since losing to Oklahoma 13-2 more than a deacde ago.
FSU jumped up to number three in the Associated Press poll and when the BCS rankings were released Sunday night; the Noles were ranked number two in the country just behind the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.
Incidentally, FSU is 6-0 for the first time since 1999, the last time the Noles won the national championship. FSU rode a complete destruction of Clemson into the national championship picture in what was the team's top performance of the year.
FSU completely mauled the Tigers from the opening snap. After a fumble on the first play of the game, FSU needed just one run and one pass to get the ball into the end zone for a 7-0 lead. FSU would go on to outscore Clemson 44-14 over the next three quarters in a 51-14 victory in Death Valley.
If you're looking at the Seminoles team, big, physical, focused on winning the line of scrimmage, run-based, play-action pass offense; you'd be hard pressed not to compare the Noles to the Crimson Tide. You'd be right as well as Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher learned under Nick Saban while both were at LSU.
One clear advantage for Florida State is at quarterback, which might seem hard to believe considering AJ McCarron has led the Tide to two national titles and is so much more than the game-manager he has been too often labeled. But redshirt freshman Jameis Winston has quickly put himself in the Andrew Luck category of college quarterbacks. Winston looks as if he could play in the NFL right now and not be overwhelmed.
"The guy is a competitor," Fisher said after Winston threw for 444 yards against Clemson. "He steps up in the moment, but we played well around him."
Florida State has passed its big test, but it has been the little ones that have tripped up FSU in recent years. Last season it was a loss at North Carolina State. The year before a loss at Wake Forest. In 2010, a loss at NC State.
The Wolfpack is next up for the Seminoles back at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday, before what could be another top-10 matchup against the rival Miami Hurricanes on Nov. 2 in Tallahassee.
Florida State is back? That can be said with more confidence now than at any point in the last decade.
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