No. 2 Florida State experienced its second-biggest loss in school history Saturday, falling 63-20 to No. 10 Louisville. The Seminoles allowed the most points in their history.
Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?
Lamar Jackson solidified his position as a Heisman front-runner with another strong performance. Jackson threw for 216 yards, one touchdown and one interception on 13 of 20 passing, while rushing for 146 yards and four touchdowns on 17 attempts.
The Noles, however, were a far cry from the team many expected to contend for a College Football Playoff appearance this offseason. There was even talk of FSU’s current defense being the best in program history.
Instead the Noles allowed Jackson to have a Heisman-worthy performance. Granted, the sophomore looked like the best player in college football during his first two games, but those were against Charlotte and Syracuse.
FSU wasn’t supposed to be embarrassed to this extent. Then again, Louisville wasn’t supposed to be this good either.
The tables have turned in the ACC. As of now, the Cardinals look like the favorite to win the conference. Clemson has struggled, yet won a series of favorable matchups, so it’s still the biggest threat to stop Louisville’s championship march.
FSU, on the other hand, is back to square one. Let’s clarify, it’s still early in the season. For all we know, Louisville could fumble through its schedule and the Noles could go on a huge run a la Alabama last season or Ohio State in 2014.
For now, though, FSU needs to take a hard look in the proverbial mirror. Regardless of how good Louisville might be, the Seminoles’ defense isn’t quite the juggernaut most expected.
The entire team also needs to learn how to grab momentum early. At halftime, it seemed FSU was capable of a comeback because it did so in Week 1. The difference is that Ole Miss is apparently a horrible second-half team, proved once again Saturday in its collapse against Alabama.
The Noles dug themselves too big of a hole to rally against an in-rhythm Louisville team led by arguably the best player in college football. Jackson delivered yet another historic performance, and there was no way that FSU was going to match him trailing by 25 (35-10) at the half.
Fortunately, the Noles will face USF next week in what should be a tune-up game. Don’t let the Bulls’ undefeated record fool you, this shouldn’t be a close margin. FSU will be playing “hangry” (hungry and angry), and USF will be its victim.
More importantly, Deondre Francois and Dalvin Cook will need to step up. Francois threw for just 101 yards, one touchdown and one interception on 7 of 18 passing, while providing no rushing threat in Saturday’s game. Cook was limited to 54 yards on 16 carries, his lowest rushing total since FSU’s Peach Bowl loss to Houston.
What made the Seminoles a good preseason CFB pick was that they returned talent across the board. This team is too experienced to lose games by 43 points.
However, an experienced team will know how to rally and bounce back from adversity. Losing Derwin James was the first problem. Now the Noles will have to answer one of their worst losses ever.
FSU needs to have a strong performance against USF before entering tough games against UNC, Miami and Clemson in three of the next four weeks. If not, the Noles’ season will be a huge disappointment.