- David M. Hale, College football
The regular season has come to a close, and Florida State got two huge performances from players at the top of the power rankings, both potentially playing in their final home game. For a third, however, things were much different, as EJ Manuel struggled through a dismal home finale in a loss to Florida.
So, as we get set for the ACC championship game, here's how FSU's top 10 looks (last week's rankings in parentheses).
1. Bjoern Werner (2)
If Manuel had held onto the football in the fourth quarter, and Florida State could've protected its lead, Werner would've been lauded as a conquering hero when it was over. His third quarter performance was one for the ages, and he nearly won the game singlehandedly. He finished with six tackles, 3.5 sacks and a huge fumble recovery that set up a go-ahead touchdown for the Seminoles.
2. Cornellius Carradine (1)
Carrdine and Werner both had their troubles defending the perimeter run game Saturday, but both were also exceptionally worn down by a massive workload that came with Florida running nearly twice as many plays as FSU by the early part of the fourth quarter. Still, Carradine was effective in the pass rush and once again led the team in tackles with 11. He has 80 tackles, including 13 for a loss, this season.
3. EJ Manuel (3)
It's somewhat unfair to judge Manuel by this game alone, so he remains at No. 3 in the power rankings, but against the toughest defense he'll face all season -- and perhaps the toughest he's faced in his career -- Manuel looked downright bad. He threw three INTs -- all his fault -- and coughed up a momentum-turning fumble. He missed a potentially easy TD throw in the third quarter and he took a bad sack in the fourth.
4. Xavier Rhodes (6)
Odds are, Saturday was the final home game of Rhodes' career as the physical junior corner could head to the NFL. If so, he left on a high note -- at least personally. Rhodes finished with five tackles and a crucial pass breakup, while he offered little room for receivers to maneuver, and Florida's passing game was largely limited to short dumpoffs.
5. Lamarcus Joyner (4)
Joyner finished with just two tackles, and while he was rarely challenged, his impact was also minimal. It's been a solid season for Joyner, but his 41 tackles and one INT is a noticeable dip in production from a year ago.
6. Christian Jones (5)
Jones finished with nine tackles -- second on the team -- but it was hardly his finest hour. The linebackers were exposed laterally, as Mike Gillislee and the Florida run game piled on yards -- 244 in all.
7. Timmy Jernigan (7)
The big rushing day for Florida can't exactly be pinned on the interior of the D line. The vast majority of the Gators' yards on the ground came off the edge rather than up the middle, but Jernigan was out of position to make the tackle on Gillislee's big 37-yard touchdown that gave Florida a lead it never relinquished.
8. Rashad Greene (8)
Greene led FSU in receiving once again, hauling in five passes for 65 yards, but the Seminoles' aerial attack really never got going. Greene's 27-yard reception represented a game high for FSU, which underscored the overall lack of big plays. It was the first time since the loss to NC State that FSU failed to record a passing play of more than 30 yards.
9. Terrence Brooks (NR)
Brooks made eight tackles and he continues to be a solid contributor in the secondary, with 46 tackles on the season. But Brooks' heavy workload Saturday was also due in part to some lackluster work up front, and too many plays breaking through into the secondary, where Brooks was left to clean up the mess.
10. Dustin Hopkins (NR)
Two more 50-yard field goals for Hopkins helped him tie the NCAA record for field goals made in a career with 87. He remains as consistently reliable a kicker as there is in college football, and he'll have a chance to grab sole possession of the field-goal record and move into second place in all-time NCAA scoring in next week's ACC title game.
The regular season has come to a close, and Florida State got two huge performances from players at the top of the power rankings, both potentially playing in their final home game.