You can't blame Florida State fans for being a little giddy right now. Everything has come up garnet-colored roses for the Seminoles so far in 2013. And if the status quo continues fans will be able to smell those roses in Pasadena on Jan. 6.
Even the most optimistic preseason expectations came nowhere close to what is currently reality for Florida State. If you predicted back in August that FSU would be sitting at a perfect 9-0 in mid-November, including two blowout wins over rivals that were ranked in the top 10, would be on course for a national championship showdown against SEC behemoth Alabama, and have a freshman quarterback that is a Heisman front-runner you would have been laughed at by even the most delusional FSU fans.
This past weekend really set the stage for the ultimate dream season. With Stanford upsetting Oregon last Thursday night, Florida State is now solidly in the No. 2 spot in the BCS Standings just behind Alabama and well ahead of No. 3 Ohio State. Absent a shocking upset loss over its final three regular season games or in the ACC Championship, FSU will be headed to Pasadena for a chance to capture its first national championship since the 1999 season.
If that wasn't enough joy for one season, Seminole fans are enjoying an extra helping of schadenfreude by seeing their biggest in-state rival Florida agonize over possibly its worst season since 1979.
After suffering one of its most embarrassing ever home losses to Vanderbilt this past weekend, the Gators dropped below .500 for the first time since 1992. And with two very difficult matchups coming over its final three regular season games, there's a good chance that Florida's 22-year bowl streak could come to an end. And Florida State would be the team that ends that streak in the Swamp on Nov. 30.
Can it get any better for Seminole Nation?
Everything has set up perfectly for the Seminoles to be on college football's center stage on Jan. 6. But there are still four games to go and FSU can't afford a setback or it would all come crashing down. However, the odds seem very much against that happening. Unlike recent teams, Jimbo Fisher's 2013 squad hasn't shown any signs of having letdowns against inferior opponents. Whether it's been against Clemson or Wake Forest, the players have shown the same focus and intensity each week.
The early betting line has FSU as a 38.5 favorite over Syracuse and it will probably over 50 the following week when the 'Noles host lowly Idaho. And FSU should be a double digit favorite in the regular season finale at Florida and in the ACC Championship game regardless of the opponent.
Defense really rolling
While not a shutout, Florida State's 59-3 victory over Wake Forest might have been the most impressive outing for the defense in years.
Through the first three quarters, before FSU's defense was completely manned by second and third teamers, Wake Forest's offense was totally outclassed. Fifteen straight drives for the Deacons resulted in either a turnover or punt. During that time, Wake Forest managed just 94 total yards and 2.0 yards per play. The only play from scrimmage to go for more than 10 yards was a 13-yard run by tailback Tyree Harris in the first quarter.
But more impressive was FSU's ability to force turnovers. Through the first three quarters the Seminole defense had twice as many interceptions (6) as Wake Forest's quarterbacks had completions (3).
Ever since the lackluster effort at Boston College, the Seminoles' new look defense has been down right scary to opposing offenses. Florida State has been able to completely shut down the opposition over the past five games giving up just 9.6 points and 256.8 yards per game, and that included two top 10 ranked opponents.
While both yards and points are down, FSU's ability to force turnovers over the past month and a half has been astounding. During this stretch the 'Noles have forced a whopping 17 turnovers. The rate at which the defense has been picking off passes has been especially impressive. During the last five games the Seminoles have record 12 interceptions, which is more than the defense managed during entire 2012 season (11).
Florida State's total defensive numbers in 2013 are just 20 yards per game off from last year's figures (274 ypg vs. 254 ypg) when the 'Noles ranked second in this category. That statistic will probably improve by the end of the year given that FSU's next three opponents rank 82, 96 and 111th in total offense, respectively.
But the real story for the defense is the dramatically increased ability to create turnovers. Last season, FSU ranked way down at No. 93 in turnover margin (-.43). So far in 2013 FSU is all the way up to No. 4 in this category (+1.4). That adds up to nearly a two turnover difference per game in FSU's favor.
Early recruit visitor list for FSU-Syracuse gameClick With 18 interceptions already on the season and five games still left, the defense has a shot at the school's all time record of 25 set in 1991 and 1968.Here to view this Link.
Comparing to the 1999 Seminoles
So far in 2013 Florida State is putting up ridiculous numbers on both sides of the ball. If FSU can continue at its current pace, 2013 could go down as the best team in school history in terms of its pure dominance on the field.
You would think that's a tall order given that Florida State fielded a dominating wire-to-wire national championship team in 1999. But statistically the 2013 team is heads and tails ahead of that team and any in school history. Other than having a slight advantage in run defense, the 2013 team is well ahead of the 1999 team in every major statistical category.
Of course all of this will be moot should the Seminoles fail to finish the season undefeated.