Here we are, four days later. You would think that the Florida State Seminoles’ (3-0, 1-0 ACC) 23-17 overtime victory over the Clemson Tigers (1-2, 0-1 ACC) would feel less impactful, that the emotion of that win was nothing but in the moment hyperbole for garnet and gold faithful. You would think that the feeling of monumental importance many ‘Noles fans had that Saturday night would have disappeared by now.
Except for the fact that it has not.
No, in the rear view mirror the weight of this win only seems to get heavier as FSU drives further away from it and towards Saturday’s showdown with the North Carolina State Wolfpack. It feels like if Florida State does in fact have a special season this is the game its fans will point to for years to come.
It had all the workings of a game the Seminoles traditionally lose. Florida State was uncharacteristically getting crushed in the offensive trenches, with a backup quarterback checking them into wrong coverages. The run game could not get going, and despite the defense’s best efforts FSU at least statistically for a lot of the game could not hold a candle to the Tigers.
Yes it seemed as though the inevitable end to a then 18 game winning streak was happening and not only was it going to happen, it was going to happen to a divisional rival who in its over 100 year history had not beaten the number one team in the country.
And then the second half happened.
Was it as pretty as the ‘Noles offense has looked for 19 straight games? No. But what it did have was something the ‘Noles have not really needed since an ugly win on a Thursday night at Virginia Tech in 2012… Guts
Now sure one might say that it took guts for State to come back and win the national title from Auburn, but in all honesty how gutsy was that win compared to the one in question? The Seminoles yardage shot through the roof once Head Coach Jimbo Fisher raised towels to block the Tiger’s view of his offensive signals, and of course Florida State also Jameis Winston who is quite possibly the greatest quarterback in its history under center. Yes, it was impressive for FSU to come back, but how much guts did it really take? How much motivation did the ‘Noles really need to compete themselves back into a game with the BCS title on the line?
The answer is not much.
Florida State was put into a place similar to where they were during their climb back to the mountaintop against Clemson. Out-maneuvered, out-motivated, and for the first half out-hustled, and without their leader under center it looked as though this Seminole squad would do what many in the lost decade before it would do, they would crawl into a hole and take a beating, but that is not what happened.
Clemson of course played its’ part with its horrific red zone tries, turnovers, and of course not being sound in the kicking game, but let us give credit where credit is due. FSU found their heart and soul for the first time this season. Those who needed to step forward did with the usually quiet Rashad Greene giving the halftime speech that quite possibly rallied the team in the second half, and the much-maligned Cason Beatty stepped up and punted the game of his life.
So as the season continues and the ‘Noles keep taking the field they will no doubt be tested. And when they are one can only imagine they will remember that warm September evening, the night they were pushed, the night they were put to their mental and physical limits, the night they found out just exactly what they are made of.