Putting FSU Win in Perspective

Bobby Bowden

Florida State's dominating 42-13 win over Wisconsin has many indicating that the victory could be a sign that the Noles are on their way back. Not so fast my friends. Despite a very good performance against the Badgers in the Champs Sports Bowl, it's a little early to consider FSU a team on the verge of rejoining the upper echelon of college football.

There were a lot of factors that contributed to the big win.

Florida State was playing at home, in essence with a bowl game in Orlando. Even though there were more than 20,000 empty seats it was still a partisan FSU crowd. They were playing a bad football team in Wisconsin. The Badgers were able to sneak into the bowl with a three point win over Minnesota and a one point overtime verdict over Cal-Poly. Wisconsin played four ranked teams this year and lost to three of them, beating only Fresno State.

Still give credit where credit is due. FSU took care of business and earned their first nine-win season in four years. Christian Ponder (18-31, 199 2/0) did a solid job of running the offense and Greg Carr caught eight passes. Derek Nicholson got his team on the board with a 75-yard fumble return and fellow linebacker Dekoda Watson scored the clinching touchdown on another fumble return this time from 51 yards out.

Looking Ahead

Projecting the Noles into the future is a mixed bag, but Florida State loses more than the Gators do. FSU is very young on offense with just two senior starters, but that includes Carr and top runner Antone Smith. They need to replace those guys, but they simply must find play makers who can put fear into opposing defenses.

Defensively FSU will have to deal with a number of changes. There are four senior starters on that unit with four more in reserve roles. Compare that with a Florida defense that has no seniors on the two-deep. The key seniors who will be moving on are Nicholson and Toddrick Verdell from the LB unit, DE Neefy Moffett and CB Tony Carter.

A real key for FSU will be the decision of stalwart DE Everett Brown. If the talented pass rusher returns, FSU will have a guy back who had 13.5 sacks this year and 21.5 tackles for loss. Scout's Inc ranks Brown the No. 9 guy for the 2009 draft so it's hard to imagine he would be back in school. They could also lose FB Marcus Smith who is ranked No. 3 at the position among underclassmen by Mel Kiper.

FSU loses two other key performers. Kicker/punter Graham Gano is a senior while junior safety Myron Rolle will be at Oxford taking advantage of being chosen a Rhodes Scholar.

It's actually in Florida's interests for FSU to be better than they have been. The Seminoles have had just one ten-win season (10-3 in 2003) in the last eight years taking most of the luster off the annual showdown between the two. While the win over Wisconsin was a good one, it's a long way from re-establishing the Florida State program as a national contender.

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