Florida State Seminoles: 2013 upset watch

ACC upset watch: Bowl edition

December, 19, 2013
One look at the ACC’s bowl lineup this year, and it seems as if there could be upsets left and right. Virginia Tech over No. 17 UCLA? Sure, why not. (The offense, that’s why.) Cincy over Carolina? Hey, don’t joke, the Tar Heels have lost their past three bowl games to former Big East teams. For the purposes of this post, though, we decided to limit the upset potential to three games, each featuring a ranked opponent we think can be taken down. A reminder that these are NOT predictions: Instead, they’re a ranking of the three favored opponents we think are most likely to topple this bowl season:

1. Miami vs. No. 18 Louisville, Russell Athletic Bowl: When Miami quarterback Stephen Morris is healthy, he has the potential to be one of the best in the country. He’s going to have to be to beat Louisville, which is second in the nation in total defense. Still, the Canes will have arguably the best offense Louisville has seen all season, playing in a watered-down American Athletic Conference. If Miami can beat the Louisville secondary with some deep balls, it stands a chance. Miami will also be playing in its home state, and there are plenty of alumni within driving distance to Orlando. The Canes are 9-1-1 in the series against Louisville, and will be playing to prove that they are the superior program as the Cardinals are set to enter the ACC next season and will play Miami again in 2014.

2. No. 12 Clemson vs. No. 7 Ohio State, Discover Orange Bowl: There’s no way Clemson turns it over six times again, right? There’s no way the Tigers flop like they did the last time they were in the Orange Bowl, a performance so embarrassing we’ll spare them rehashing it here. One thing is for sure: Clemson’s defense will have to play better than it did that day, but the Tigers are also a much better defense in Year 2 under Brent Venables. They’ll be challenged by Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde, who have both rushed for more than 1,000 yards and have given defenses headaches with the zone-option. Clemson now has Michigan State’s performance as a blueprint, though, for the defense. In order for Clemson to have a chance, it simply can’t give Ohio State freebies like it did South Carolina. The turnovers, coupled with the intangible of redemption, could be the difference in this game. In what will be the final performance of Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, he and his receivers should have the edge against a young, average Ohio State secondary.

3. Florida State vs. Auburn, VIZIO BCS National Championship: Andrea Adelson and I have had Florida State ranked No. 1 in our Top 25 for ESPN.com for weeks, so we both agree the Noles are the best team in the country. Auburn, however, has college football’s good fortune in its hands. The Tigers are Livin’ on a Prayer, a Hail Mary away from winning a national title. And they’re running the ball extremely well. The Tigers ran for almost 300 yards against Alabama, and an astounding 545 yards against Missouri to win the SEC championship. Slowing down Tre Mason will be a top priority for the Noles, but Auburn’s best shot at winning the game is by doing what it does best -- running the ball and misdirection. Quarterback Nick Marshall has feet like a running back and speed like a defensive back, and he’s difficult to tackle in open space. Auburn’s defense, meanwhile, will be tasked with slowing down arguably the best group of receivers in the country. FSU quarterback Jameis Winston won the Heisman Trophy, but his receivers are a big reason why. If Auburn can slow down that passing game and continue to run the ball efficiently -- and of course get at least one “miracle play,” -- then there could be an upset of the No. 1 team in the country -- and an eighth straight SEC title.

ACC Upset Watch: Week 8

October, 15, 2013
With two teams ranked in the top five facing off this weekend in Death Valley, somebody’s gotta lose. Welcome back to the Upset Watch, ACC’s elite:

1. No. 5 Florida State at No. 3 Clemson. You know the history by now: Florida State has not won in Death Valley since 2001. That doesn’t mean the streak won’t end on Saturday. Yes, Clemson is ranked higher, and the two programs have seemingly switched positions from last season, but this Florida State team is equally as talented, will give Clemson’s defensive line some pushback up front and will challenge the Tigers’ wide receivers. FSU quarterback Jameis Winston has already proven that he can handle adversity with road wins against Boston College and Pitt. The Noles also had a bye week to prepare for this game. We won’t know how much of a gap truly exists between the two programs until they play on Saturday, but as of right now, it looks as thin as paper. This should be anyone’s game.

2. Maryland at Wake Forest. The Terps need just one more win to become bowl eligible for the first time under coach Randy Edsall. They’re not going to let an unheralded Wake Forest team get in the way, are they? Not with quarterback C.J. Brown returning to the lineup after healing from a concussion, right? Well, the Deacs might have something to say about that. They had a bye week to prepare for Maryland, they’ll have home field advantage, and they know their chances to become bowl eligible are quickly shrinking. Plus, they’re coming off a 28-13 win over NC State in which the offense finally seemed to find a groove. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from watching “the rest of the Atlantic Division,” i.e. everyone but FSU and Clemson, it’s that they’re a muddled mess, and everyone has a chance to win.

3. No. 10 Miami at North Carolina. There’s no reason the Canes should lose this game, and there was hesitation in putting them on the list this week, considering how poorly UNC has played this season. Miami, though, has not fared well against the Tar Heels, losing four of the past six games. UNC also had a bye week to prepare for this game, they know their margin for error is slim with bowl hopes still on the line, and they’re still looking for their first league win. Miami has also had eight turnovers in the past two games. At some point, that’s going to come back to haunt it. Oh, and the last time UNC beat a top-10 team? A 31-28 win over No. 4 Miami in 2004.


Jameis Winston SportsCenter conversation
Jameis Winston sits down with Kaylee Hartung to discuss his pro day, how he deals with his critics and learning from past mistakes.