Florida State Seminoles: Florida State Seminoles
- Andre Williams is blown away by being a Heisman finalist, Jack McCluskey writes on ESPNBoston.com.
- Tickets for the bowl games featuring Clemson and Duke are among the highest bowl prices out there.
- AthlonSports' Steven Lassan looks at five reasons why Florida State will win it all.
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Ken Sugiura offers seven facts about Georgia Tech's appearance in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl against Ole Miss.
- Maryland defensive line coach and assistant head coach Greg Gattuso has left the Terrapins to become Albany's new head coach, Alex Prewitt writes in the Washington Post.
- Miami athletic directors Blake James and coach Al Golden are excited about the Russell Athletic Bowl against Louisville, and about all of the connections this game brings, Matt Porter writes in the Palm Beach Post.
- The Daily Tar Heel's Brooke Pryor previews the Belk Bowl between North Carolina and Cincinnati.
- The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Sam Werner has reaction from Charlotte, N.C., where Aaron Donald was named the Bronko Nagurski Award winner on Monday night.
- The week-long process of finding Syracuse a bowl game was an "exhilarating" process for AD Daryl Gross, Nate Mink writes in the (Syracuse) Post-Standard.
- Virginia Tech linebacker Tariq Edwards will play in the College All Star Bowl, per the Washington Post's Mark Giannotto.
DE Harold Landry (Fayetteville, N.C./Pine Forest)
6-foot-3, 230 pounds
Boston College is close to done for 2014, and coach Steve Addazio is looking toward taking the next big recruiting jump with the 2015 class. However, the Eagles' 2014 class would be dealt a devastating blow if he cannot hold on to Landry, No. 30 among defensive ends nationally and the second-highest-rated commit in BC's class. Reports in mid-October had Landry decommitting from the Eagles, but it was only for a short while. He made amends with the staff quickly and rejoined BC. But now coaches are coming through schools and homes, so BC will have its work cut out once again.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
Back in September, Winston’s career began with a win over Pitt in which he threw for 356 yards and accounted for five touchdowns. On Saturday, Winston wrapped up an ACC championship and secured a trip to Pasadena for the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game by throwing for 330 yards and accounting for four touchdowns in a 45-7 victory over Duke.
It’s a statement to Winston’s consistent excellence this season that Saturday’s performance, for which he earned the game’s MVP trophy, might have been one of his worst starts of the season. His 69.9 Total QBR was his lowest of any of his 13 games, and it was just the second time this year he threw two interceptions in one game.
Still, if Winston struggled, it was briefly.
The Heisman Trophy frontrunner opened the game completing just 1 of 6 throws, but he wasn’t off by much. Four of the five incomplete passes hit his receivers’ hands, but they couldn’t hang on for the catch. After a scoreless first quarter, however, Winston finished 16-of-24 passing for 288 yards and three touchdowns, and racked up 58 yards on nine rushes, including another TD. Florida State ran off 45 consecutive points, and the game was effectively decided midway through the third quarter.
With one game remaining, Winston has 38 touchdown passes and 3,820 passing yards — both ACC and FBS records for a freshman. He’s thrown for more touchdowns than any quarterback in Florida State history. Winston ranks second in the nation in touchdown throws, first in yards per attempt and first in QB rating.
Winston’s big game against Duke was his sixth this season with at least four touchdowns and his seventh throwing for at least 300 yards.
The conference also did it in 2008, sending 10 teams to the postseason. Problem was, the league finished 4-6 in its bowl games that season.
Having a plethora of bowl teams doesn’t amount to much respect if the ACC can’t win more than it loses.
In 2013, The ACC has already improved upon that with two teams in BCS bowls for the second time in three years, including No. 1 Florida State’s appearance in the VIZIO BCS National Championship game against No. 2 Auburn, and No. 12 Clemson’s date with No. 7 Ohio State in the Orange Bowl. In order for the ACC to prove it’s more than just Florida State, though, the rest of the conference has to carry its weight, too.
And, of course, Clemson has to avoid giving up 70 points again.
Highlighted by Florida State’s shot at Auburn and a chance to snap the SEC’s seven-game national title streak, the ACC has three chances against the SEC (vs. Auburn, No. 21 Texas A&M and Ole Miss), two against the Big Ten (Ohio State and Minnesota), two against the Pac-12 (Arizona and No. 17 UCLA), two against the American Athletic (No. 18 Louisville and Cincinnati), one against Conference USA (Marshall), and one against the MAC (Bowling Green).
(Before you start checking off your W column, just remember Virginia Tech needed three overtimes to beat Marshall in September.)
Despite Florida State’s resurgence on the national stage, the ACC enters bowl season still considered the fifth-best conference in the nation behind the SEC, Pac-12, Big 12 and Big Ten. Much of that has to do with the drop-off after FSU -- and the on-field results. The ACC finished 4-9 this season against its nonconference opponents form the other four power conferences, including a 3-5 record against the SEC, and a combined 0-4 record against the Big Ten and Pac-12. The fourth win came from Maryland against West Virginia of the Big 12.
With five ranked opponents, including two in the top 10 of the final BCS standings, there are plenty of opportunities for the ACC to prove itself. While Florida State might be the league’s only great team, the conference is balanced by its good teams. That’s not necessarily the national perception right now, especially after Clemson turned it over six times in a fifth straight loss to South Carolina, Georgia Tech squandered a 20-point lead against rival Georgia, and Virginia Tech’s offense couldn’t get out of its own way in losses to Boston College, Maryland and Duke. Against the Blue Devils, the best team the Coastal Division had to offer this season, Florida State cruised to a 45-7 win.
And that’s not a knock on Duke; it’s a testament to the gap that exists between Florida State and the rest of the ACC.
Since becoming a 12-team league in 2005, the ACC has sent 64 teams to bowl games. Only the SEC has had more (70). But the SEC has won 213 of those games, while the ACC has won 162. With the additions of Pitt and Syracuse, ACC fans should expect the league’s number of bowl-eligible teams to be higher.
They should expect the winning percentage to be, too.
The No. 59-ranked prospect in the ESPN Junior 300 was once committed to South Carolina along with high school teammate Wesley Green, but Key backed off that verbal pledge on Sept. 22.
Fast forward three months and the athletic edge-rush prospect is looking at all his options with two programs in line to make an eventual trimmed list.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
The good: What's not to love about this past weekend if you're from the ACC? The conference set an NCAA record by placing 11 teams in bowl games. That's topped, of course, by No. 1 Florida State, which is bound for the VIZIO BCS National Championship, where it will face No. 2 Auburn. The ACC broke its NCAA record of 10 teams in bowls, which was set in 2008. (The league also placed seven of its nine teams in bowls in 2002, which was then the NCAA's highest bowl participation percentage ever, at .778.)
The records: Jameis Winston broke FBS records for both passing yards and passing touchdowns by a freshman, as the Heisman Trophy front-runner was 19-of-32 for 330 yards with three touchdowns (and two interceptions) to finish with 3,820 passing yards and 38 passing touchdowns in the regular season. Duke receiver Jamison Crowder set a program single-season record in receiving yards Saturday and finished with 1,197. Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo's 45-yard second-quarter field goal helped him set an ACC record with 142 points.
The added bonus: The ACC title game had just kicked off when our Joe Schad reported that Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher had agreed to a five-year, $21 million contract extension with the program. Athletic director Stan Wilcox confirmed after the game that a deal had been reached, with details still being finalized. Just another bit of great news for the Seminoles on a night with no shortage of it.
Bowl subplots to watch: Boston College's Andre Williams (329) and Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey (322) lead the nation in carries and will square off in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl. … Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson will get a shot at his in-state program, Pitt, in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. … Miami can see its hometown product, Teddy Bridgewater, up close and personal in what could be the Louisville quarterback's final game, the Russell Athletic Bowl. (The teams face each other next year, too, when the Cardinals join the ACC.) … Let's not overlook the obvious historical note when Ohio State and Clemson meet in the Discover Orange Bowl, either, as the programs will meet for the first time since the 1978 Gator Bowl, which ended up being Woody Hayes' final game after the coach punched Tigers linebacker Charlie Bauman.
Wake Forest is still in the process of identifying and hiring a new coach as its 2014 recruiting class remains in flux. The Seminoles are heading to the national championship game and could be in for a big recruiting finish.
Meanwhile, a couple of very important visits and new offers to younger recruits went out in the ACC over the past week.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
We say goodbye to the BCS (and, yes, some will say good riddance) with a matchup in the final VIZIO BCS National Championship that may be the toughest assignment yet for the conference everybody loves to hate.
The SEC, the epitaph on its national championship streak all but written just a week ago, is back on college football's grandest stage.
And if anybody says they tabbed Auburn back in the preseason to be the team carrying the SEC's banner, they either have a serious problem with the truth or are seriously psychic.
Either way, talk about a compelling way to bid adieu to the BCS era.
No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 2 Auburn.
One team established itself as the country's most talented team from the outset of the season, but had seemed to invent ways in recent years on how not to get to this point. One team didn't even win a league game and fired its coach last season and was never supposed to be playing for a national championship.
They collide in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 6 in Pasadena, Calif., in what will be the final BCS National Championship.
"We showed the world that we belong here, and we're not done yet," Auburn receiver Sammie Coates said.
To continue reading this story, click here.
No. 1 Florida State Seminoles (13-0) vs. No. 2 Auburn Tigers (12-1)
Jan. 6, 8:30 p.m. ET, Pasadena, Calif. (ESPN)
FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES BREAKDOWN
For months, Florida State was happy to downplay its own talent. In each of the past two seasons, the Seminoles bore the burden of lofty expectations and eventually collapsed under the weight. This time, they were happy to fly beneath the radar. But make no mistake -- they knew this season would be special.
Winston has been the catalyst. The redshirt freshman was a revelation from the moment he stepped onto the field during Florida State’s spring game, launching a long touchdown throw on his first pass attempt. In his debut against Pitt, he was nearly flawless, accounting for five touchdowns in the win. He delivered the pregame inspiration in Death Valley, then delivered Florida State’s biggest win of the season, thumping Clemson 51-14. By season’s end, he had rewritten the record books at Florida State.
But if Winston was the man in the spotlight, he was pushed there by an immensely talented supporting cast. Three receivers and his top tailback are all within reach of 1,000 yards for the season. Nick O’Leary and Kelvin Benjamin provide two of the biggest matchup advantages in the country, and Winston has exploited their talents to the tune of 21 touchdowns. His offensive line employs five players who figure to land NFL jobs within the next two years. For the season, Florida State led the nation, averaging 7.8 yards per play.
The offense garnered headlines, but the defense shouldn’t be overlooked. Florida State lost seven starters and three assistant coaches from last season’s No. 2-ranked unit, and during the spring, new coordinator Jeremy Pruitt revamped the scheme. The adjustments didn’t take long to master. The Seminoles lead the nation in pass defense for the second straight year, but this season they added a penchant for takeaways, racking up 25 interceptions. The rushing defense was nearly as stout, allowing just 3.1 yards per carry. The first-team defense didn’t allow a rushing touchdown all season. In the final nine games of the season, FSU’s first-team defense allowed just 42 points total.
Florida State wrapped up its berth in the Vizio BCS National Championship with one final dominant performance against Duke in the ACC title game. Winston accounted for four touchdowns. The defense forced three turnovers and nine punts. It was Florida State’s fourth win over a ranked foe by a combined score of 200-35. -- David M. Hale
AUBURN TIGERS BREAKDOWN
All around the Auburn football offices there are signs that read, "It's a New Day." Coach Gus Malzahn promised the return of championships to The Plains when he came back to the school after the 2012 season, and against all reason, he's put the previously inept Tigers back in contention to claim college football's coveted crystal football trophy less than one year later.
Even before Michigan State beat Ohio State to open the door for Auburn's trip west, it felt like the start of something new on The Plains.
Auburn's resurgence from winless in the SEC to conference champs can be traced back to Malzahn and quarterback Nick Marshall. First, Malzahn had to rebuild the fragile psyche of a program that went through one of the worst slides in the history of college football. Second, he had to find a quarterback to execute his complex zone-read option offense. Lastly, he had to make it all work.
Marshall, who transferred to Auburn late in August, knew only a quarter of the offense when he started at quarterback for the Tigers in Week 1. He accounted for only 126 total yards in the season opener against Washington State. But with the help of Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, he started piecing things together. He led four game-winning or game-tying drives, and the offense has scored 30 points or more in each game since the team’s lone loss to LSU in September.
Auburn’s magical run hasn’t come without its share of drama, though. The Tigers needed a 73-yard Hail Mary in the final minute to knock off Georgia, and the town is still buzzing after the field goal return by Chris Davis to upset No. 1 Alabama. Auburn is being tabbed a team of destiny, and with what’s happened in the final month of the season, how can you pick against it? It’s been as unlikely a comeback story as you’ll ever see, and it’s not over yet. There’s still one game left to be played. -- Greg Ostendorf
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Devonta Freeman has never been to California, and he’s already concerned about the long flight west. Six hours on a plane is more than he’s accustomed to, never mind that it’s a trip he has been dreaming of since the spring.
The BCS made it official Sunday night, and No. 1 Florida State will face No. 2 Auburn in Pasadena on Jan. 6 with a national championship on the line. Freeman’s vacation plans in the interim are simple.
“I just want to grind,” Freeman said. “Get better.”
Freeman met with running backs coach Jay Graham on Sunday, asking for areas he could improve on before he takes the field again in 28 days. The work begins immediately.
There was celebration for Florida State, which wrapped up a conference title with a 45-7 win over Duke on Saturday, but Freeman’s mantra was the overwhelming narrative as the Seminoles begin the month-long wait for the final step on their march toward a national championship. They’ve come far, but the goal wasn’t simply to get here.
“It won’t mean nothing if we don’t go out and win this game and finish it the right way,” linebacker Telvin Smith said. “We’re going to go out, prepare well and play hard.”
There will be ample time for revelry between now and Jan. 6. A handful of Florida State’s stars will be on the banquet circuit, collecting awards for a season’s worth of goals met. Jameis Winston will be in New York next week for the Heisman Trophy presentation, which he’s the heavy favorite to win. There are holidays and vacations and down time, but Florida State is well prepared for the distractions. It has spent the entire season preparing for them.
From the Heisman hype to off-field legal drama, two turns on ESPN’s "College GameDay" and 11 other contests that seemed over before they kicked off, Florida State has ridden the roller coaster and still come away a bastion of consistency. Thirteen wins, all by at least two touchdowns, all because the mindset hasn’t changed.
And with one game left to go, the Seminoles insist it won’t change now.
“We’re 13-0. This is where we started the season off wanting to come here. Now we’re here,” said kicker Roberto Aguayo, who has outscored all 13 of FSU’s opponents by himself this season. “It’s been in our minds the entire time. It’s nothing new. We’re playing for a national championship and this is where we should be.”
The team gathered Sunday for its annual awards night. They watched the BCS announcement together at the stadium. They cheered the inevitable, and then they prepared to go back to work.
It’s funny, Freeman said. A few weeks ago, Florida State was dogged with questions about what might happen if four or five teams finished undefeated. Now, the Seminoles are the only team with an unblemished record.
It was no accident, Freeman said, and all that matters now is that Florida State keeps doing what has gotten it this far.
“We’ve gotta win,” Freeman said. “We’ve gotta win. And I’m not doubting anything.”
Red Smith, the poet laureate of sweat, once wrote that 90 feet between bases is the nearest to perfection that man has yet achieved. The basepath has nothing on the length of college football's regular season, which, with the patience of a kindergarten teacher and the tenacity of Scotland Yard, identified Florida State and Auburn as the two best teams to play for the BCS National Championship.
Tenacity is the lifeblood of a sport that demands physical and mental exertion for 60 minutes. Patience, not so much. Patience in college football is attributed to tailbacks who wait for a hole to appear. But in a sport in which a quarterback may have three seconds to complete a pass without getting his slobber knocked, patience often goes untapped.
Yet patience has never been more important than it has been in 2013, and not just because it was nearly midnight on the final Saturday of the regular season before Michigan State proved that Ohio State didn't have the credentials to play for the crystal football. In a season made predictable only by its unpredictability, patience became the coin of the realm.
Patience rewarded no fans more than at Auburn. It didn't take any patience to appreciate the rapid rise of the Tigers from 3-9 in 2012 to 12-1 this year. But the way that the Tigers waited until the very end to upend Georgia on a Hail Mary tipped pass and defeat archrival No. 1 Alabama on a 109-yard field goal return for a touchdown, focused upon the power of faith no matter what reality promised.
Patience proved critical at Florida State, not because head coach Jimbo Fisher decided to start a redshirt freshman at quarterback. Jameis Winston played with poise and the acumen of an upperclassman as the Seminoles cruised to a 13-0 record (12 wins by at least 27 points). But Florida State fans had to hold their collective garnet-and-gold breath for several weeks before local authorities decided not to charge Winston in a sexual assault case.
Patience paid off at Missouri, which had endured a 5-7, injury-filled debut in the SEC in 2012. Coach Gary Pinkel revamped his training and practice methods, and took advantage of the depth that resulted from playing so many players in 2012. The Tigers won the SEC East and finished 11-2 this season.
To continue reading, click here.
Louisville wide receiver commit Isaiah Ford, had a big day with two touchdowns, but for the most part, Trinity was led by several talented junior prospects including two, Kevin Toliver II and Jeffery Holland, that are ranked in the top 10 of the ESPN Junior 300.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
Noles assistant coach Tim Brewster, considered one of the nation’s best recruiters, immediately took to Twitter following the win and let recruits know the coaches are hitting the road upon returning to Tallahassee. With the coaches focusing on the ACC title game, the FSU staff missed a week to be in the home and schools of recruits. Now, they have a week to work on closing out the 2014 class and gaining momentum in 2015 before the dead period, which begins next week.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
Given the lopsided score in the ACC title game, we still think Miami is going to Atlanta. But we could be very wrong. Miami versus Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Fla., would be an intriguing matchup with great storylines, too. Tough decision to make here for the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Vizio BCS National Championship, Jan. 6: Florida State
Discover Orange Bowl, Jan. 3: Clemson
Chick-fil-A Bowl, Dec. 31: Miami
Russell Athletic Bowl, Dec. 28: Duke
Hyundai Sun Bowl, Dec. 31: Virginia Tech
Belk Bowl, Dec. 28: North Carolina
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, Dec. 30: Georgia Tech
AdvoCare V100 Bowl, Dec. 31: Boston College
Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman, Dec. 27: Maryland
* - Pitt, Syracuse at-large.