If it hadn’t occurred just one week after the otherworldly finish to the Michigan State-Michigan game, Georgia Tech’s dramatic victory over Florida State on a blocked field goal and return as time expired would’ve likely been the play of the year in college football.
But, though it may have been slightly overshadowed, it was still an ending for the ages and one that has major implications on Florida State’s season moving forward.
Coming into the year, no one (aside from the most passionate of FSU fans) was expecting the Seminoles to be a contender for the College Football Playoff, yet there they were, 6-0 to start the season and in that conversation. Now, they were still certainly a longshot to earn a spot in the Playoff, but there was still a chance.
However, thanks to the Yellow Jackets’ stunning victory, Florida State is essentially completely out of the national title discussion for the first time since the pre-Jameis Winston era—a feeling that has to be a strange for FSU fans.
The loss Saturday snapped a 28-game conference winning streak for the Seminoles, which really illustrates just how dominant they’ve been under Jimbo Fisher. The fact that they got off to a 6-0 start was quite impressive given that this is supposed to be a rebuilding year for the program, but the loss still stung pretty bad.
This is a Georgia Tech team that has taken a big step back from last year, and few gave the Yellow Jackets much of a chance going into Saturday’s matchup. Of course, college football is ridiculously unpredictable at times, and that was on full display in Georgia Tech’s victory.
More importantly for the Seminoles is the fact that the Yellow Jackets may have provided a rough blueprint for other teams to follow when they’re facing Florida State. Georgia Tech showed that the FSU offense can be held in check if the run game is contained and short passes are stifled. A team’s best chance against the Seminoles is to make quarterback Everett Golson air it out deep, and the Yellow Jackets took full advantage of that.
Of course, Dalvin Cook’s hamstring issues and limited use in the second half made life much easier for Georgia Tech, but it was still an impressive defensive effort nonetheless. If Cook, a bona fide Heisman candidate, isn’t at 100% moving forward, the Seminoles are going to need to Golson to step up and play a heck of a lot better than he did against the Yellow Jackets.
The good news for Florida State is that a 9-3 or 10-2 record is still well within reach despite last weekend’s loss. The Seminoles travel to Memorial Stadium in a couple weeks for a showdown with undefeated Clemson, a legitimate Playoff contender. The days of “Clemsoning” are long gone for Dabo Swinney’s bunch (or at least they should be), and the Tigers will certainly be favored to top Florida State.
But even a loss to Clemson wouldn’t be the end of the world, as the Seminoles could still reach 10-2 if they take care of business with the rest of their games and defeat Florida in their regular-season finale.
The Georgia Tech loss was certainly heartbreaking for Florida State, but the sky isn’t falling. The Seminoles are still in the midst of a highly successful rebuilding year, and a 10-win season is still well within reach.