The momentum of a big game builds through the week, and is usually defined by those around you. I had a text message exchange with an old roommate mid-week, and got an email from another that I hadn’t heard from in several months on Friday. This was getting big. On game day, I went to my son’s soccer game which between 3-6pm I felt was the biggest event in the world, and was verbally assaulted for not wearing school colors. This was a big game.
I must admit to being jaded. I attended Florida State 1989-1996. We lived in the top 5, played in several “game’s of the century”, and won a National Championship in 1993. The run continued through the 2000 season including a second title in 1999. The formula was simple. Routinely drill conference opponents 45-10, and have your season defined by three games…Miami, Florida and another upper tier cross-regional opponent. We among a few other schools formed the epicenter of college football. I spent a week in Tuscaloosa this summer, and felt the same feeling I had in Tallahassee. The season is not about hope, but expectation.
Beginning in 2001, Florida State slowly, but certainly lost this feeling. For several years the team would lose games to anyone and everyone, often close, but losses nonetheless. The believers would excuse the loss and talk about getting back to being “Florida State”. Unfortunately, when you compile three out of four losses against the likes of NC State, or drop four of your last six to Wake Forest every game is a challenge and there is no baseline for humiliation. It is here that expectation gives way to hope.
Alabama is a team of expectation, and Florida State is a team of hope. Alabama opened it’s season by crushing a then top 10 Michigan team. The difference in class readily apparent. Florida State opened with a trio of Murray State, Savannah State and Wake Forest with a similar difference in class. Last night, the played top 10 Clemson in a big game.
The game started with a long Clemson touchdown pass on third down, third and fourth down conversions before scoring on their second possession, and a growing sense that Florida State could not stop Clemson. Two missed FSU field goals in the first half and a flea flicker touchdown for Clemson on their first possession of the second half left the Noles down 28-14. Then something special happened. They fought back. 28-21, then 31-28 before snatching the lead 35-31. In totaln they reeled off five straight second half touchdowns and won 49-37.
They are now 4-0 having out-scored opponents 240-40. They are ranked 4 and have a favorable schedule ahead. It feels good, but there remains only hope as expectation is born over sustained success at the highest level.
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