The Florida State Seminoles probably would rank as one of college football’s most disappointing teams if you conducted a midseason poll.
The Seminoles (4-2), once a prime contender for the College Football Playoff, probably won’t have a shot at the ACC title after getting mauled against Louisville and heartbroken against North Carolina.
All that being said, guess who will be one of the nation’s most dangerous teams moving forward?
I wouldn’t be shocked if FSU ran the table, beginning with Saturday’s home game against Wake Forest (5-1) and including the Oct. 29 matchup against presumptive ACC champion Clemson.
Can one victory — the thrilling, character-building 20-19 win against the Miami Hurricanes — carry that much weight?
Can one weekend alter the perception?
Yes and yes.
FSU’s talent level never wavered, despite being part of a growing list of teams that were ripped apart by Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. FSU’s potential didn’t disappear despite getting beat at the buzzer on a 54-yard field goal by North Carolina (in a game when the Seminoles were betrayed by their own kicking game).
Dalvin Cook looks like he’s going to gallop into a Heisman Trophy award invitation. The defense will regain its best player, safety Derwin James.
And — as if there were any doubt — the Seminoles have their quarterback.
Redshirt freshman Deondre Francois had impressive enough statistics — 20 of 31 for 234 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions — but the toughness he displayed was over the top.
Francois was hit a dozen times by the Hurricanes. Twice, he was helped from the field and needed medical attention.
But he kept coming back. That meant everything to Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher.
“I’ve always felt this way about him, but every time you prove yourself on the field … it reinforces things,’’ Fisher said.
“I think not only to me, I think it validates it to himself.
“With young players, they have to go through experiences to learn them. The human mind can go a lot of places and the human body can do a lot of things if we just allow it to.’’
When the season began, no one really knew how Francois would perform. He was a big-time prospect who impressed coaches in practices. But in real time? Nobody knew.
Now Francois has a chance to jump to a higher level.
“You think you know until you get in it,’’ Fisher said. “Then you see how much (responsibility) it is … mentally, physically, psychologically, all those types of areas.
And it’s not just about you. It’s how you make the guys around you play. I think he has allowed us to grow him in those areas. I’m very proud of his toughness and competitiveness.’’
The Miami game is done.
Wake Forest is ahead — a bigger challenge than it might seem — before FSU gets its chance to ruin Clemson’s season.
“Don’t worry about the opponent,’’ Fisher said. “It ain’t about the opponent. It’s about us. It’s never about your opponent. It’s always about you. That’s all you can control. That’s what your culture has to be and what you want to be known as.’’
Almost more than any other program in the nation, FSU has a culture of winning. That reputation has taken a hit with a different start to the season. But it seems like the Seminoles have found their rhythm.
That’s not good news for ACC opponents.