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September 17, 2012
Column: Time to find out if FSU is real contender
For the third straight game the Seminoles dominated the competition. With a quarter of the regular season now complete, FSU finds itself at No. 4 in both major polls, its highest ranking since 2005, ranked No. 1 in every major NCAA defensive statistic and No. 2 overall in scoring offense.
But just how good is Florida State? Are the Seminoles really "back"?
On paper the 'Noles have talent, depth, experience and coaching. And now the statistics say the Seminoles belong among the elite of college football. The problem is that Jimbo Fisher's squad has proved nothing.
Two victories against hapless FBS teams and dominating effort versus a mediocre Wake Forest team might feel good to the average fan, but the 3-0 start means very little to the bottom line. Florida State was a heavy favorite in all three contests and did what was expected.
While it's hard to draw any hard early conclusions based on the level of competition, a few trends are beginning to surface. So do these tends show that FSU a national championship contender or pretender?
Case for being a contender:
Case that FSU is still a pretender:
The pendulum will swing after Saturday night. That's because the 'Noles face No. 9 ranked Clemson in an intra-conference showdown. With Virginia Tech's upset loss to Pittsburgh this past weekend, the nationally televised showdown between the Tigers and Seminoles, the only ranked ACC teams in the Coaches' Poll, will decide who the king of the ACC is.
A win would put the Seminoles in the driver's seat for the Atlantic Division and for the berth in the ACC Championship Game. On other hand, a home loss to Clemson would be disastrous. Such a setback could effectively eliminate FSU from the ACC Championship race should Clemson takes care of its business in ACC competition. Such a setback might also call into question all the progress Jimbo Fisher has made to the program since taking over as head coach.
On the whole, the positive signs appear to outnumber the red flags. While expecations were unreasonably high in 2011, there are legitimate reasons to buy into the hype this year. The building blocks are in place and the players and coaches seem supremely focused on the goal of an ACC Championship and Clemson stands in the way.
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