NoleGameday

FSU’s bowl streak is in doubt after slow start

Florida State has the longest bowl streak in the country. The Seminoles have made it to a bowl game in each of the last 35 seasons. The last time they missed a bowl game was in 1981, Bobby Bowden’s sixth year as head coach. However, that that legendary streak isn’t recognized due to the NCAA academic scandal that forced the 2007 Music City Bowl loss to Kentucky to be vacated.

FSU is in a real predicament after starting 1-3 for the first time in 46 years. Their unofficial bowl streak is in jeopardy of being snapped, which is something no one could have dreamed of just over a month ago. The `Noles have seven games left, and it could end up being eight if they reschedule the UL-Monroe game for conference championship week.

Jimbo Fisher’s squad will likely be favored in four of those seven games. Delaware State is 0-5. They are essentially a tuneup game before traveling to Gainesville. The Hornets are the only sure win left on this schedule. Duke (4-2), Boston College (2-4), and Syracuse (3-3) are all normally mid to bottom tier ACC teams who you’d expect Florida State to throttle. Don’t get your hopes up this season as we’ve already seen this team get into dogfights with North Carolina State, Wake Forest, and Miami. The Duke and Boston College tilts will be played away from Tallahassee, making the task at hand even more challenging.

The annual rivalry game against the Gators will likely be a toss-up. Both teams have been inconsistent on offense up to this point in 2017 and it will be important to see who has the more successful quarterback by that point. Fisher thus far has had Jim Mcelwain’s number in this rivalry. He’s won four straight against Florida and has dropped the swamp donkey in consecutive years.

Florida State’s games against Louisville (4-2) and Clemson (6-0) were supposed to be about revenge this season. Instead, fans are now hoping their `Noles aren’t blown out of the building when they take on two of the top teams in the ACC’s Atlantic Division. Louisville has faltered slightly after dropping games to Clemson and NC State (5-1). The Seminoles are lucky to draw the Cardinals in Tallahassee and will be looking to earn their first home win of the season on October 21. Clemson hasn’t looked like they’ve missed a beat in their transition from Deshaun Watson to Kelly Bryant. The Tigers have been one of the most impressive teams all season and things could get ugly when Fisher’s squad heads to Death Valley for the first time since 2015.

It is essential for the Seminoles, if they’re even interested in making a bowl game, to start turning their season around beginning with the Blue Devils. Duke has dropped their last two games after starting 4-0. They are well balanced offensively and will have their moments against FSU’s struggling defensive unit. Duke will probably try to force true freshman quarterback James Blackman into mistakes by disguising coverages and bringing pressure.

It’ll be interesting to see if Fisher opens the offense up earlier in ball games to get Blackman more comfortable. Florida State spent most of the first-half against Miami pounding the rock.  They rarely let their young signal-caller toss it downfield, opting for bubble screens and short passes that were mostly unsuccessful. Blackman has delivered in the fourth quarter in each of the last two weeks after having the offense opened up.

He went 3-6 in the final frame against Wake Forest, including a big play to Keith Gavin before the game-winning toss to Auden Tate. Blackman responded to the first win of his career by going 8-10 in the fourth quarter against Miami. He led FSU on three scoring drives and threw touchdown passes to both Ryan Izzo as well as Auden Tate. Alas, the Seminoles defense didn’t do enough to pull out the eighth straight victory over the Hurricanes. It would be interesting to see how this offense looked if Blackman had been getting those play calls all game. At some point, Fisher is going to have to stop being so conservative if he wants his team to be successful.

Speaking of success. Does this team even want to win anymore? Do they even care? The effort level on defense was certainly questionable last Saturday. Guys were lagging around and missing tackles. If they play like that in a rivalry game against Miami, then how will they respond when they play a less hyped opponent like Duke.

It’s Florida State vs Duke at noon in North Carolina. How much energy will the `Noles have against a scrappy Blue Devil team? It is imperative for this team to get off to a good start, if not, we could see the rails fall off even more than they already have.

Dustin Lewis
Lead writer for NoleGameday. Majoring in English Editing, Writing, and Media at Florida State University. Writer for FSView Sports and Hashtag Basketball.

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