The Biggest Obstacle to an FSU Repeat
By BJ Bennett
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Even against the best of the best, rarely are the numbers beaten
This past season was one of perfection for Florida State, a 14-0 run to a BCS National Championship. With the return of coach Jimbo Fisher and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, attention now turns towards a repeat. The Seminoles open next year with Oklahoma State in famed Cowboys Stadium. They will do so with a likely pre-season number one ranking, college football's biggest spotlight and a target on their backs as the team everyone wants to beat. Expectations are firmly in place.
"We didn't just develop a team, folks," Fisher said at Saturday's title celebration. "We developed a program. We plan on being here for a long time."
For all that Florida State has returning, as many as a dozen Seminoles could be selected in the 2014 NFL Draft. Receiver Kelvin Benjamin, defensive backs Terrance Brooks and Lamarcus Joyner, tackle Tim Jernigan and center Bryan Stork, all of whom earned All-American recognition, are among those who must be replaced. Florida State will also be ushering in former linebackers coach Charles Kelly as defensive coordinator after Jeremy Pruitt left FSU for the same position at Georgia.
In Winston and a four and five-star heavy roster as deep as any in the country, the formula for success for the Seminoles is quite obvious. Florida State's biggest challenge, a potentially-unovercomable obstacle in pursuit of consecutive championships, is as well: math. Even against the best of the best, rarely are the numbers beaten. Simply put, history suggest that the 'Noles are due.
Dating back to the 2012 ACC Championship Game, Florida State has won 16 games in a row. Looking ahead, the Seminoles will most likely be favored in all of the games on their upcoming schedule. Another season unscathed would result in 31 straight wins for FSU, a run that would tie Pittsburgh from 1914-1918; the Panthers, of course, had their streak stopped by the Cleveland Naval Reserve. Such stretches of dominance are almost exclusively relics of the past. Only once since Toledo from 1969-1971, has a program won 30 consecutive games.
What Fisher has done in a short period of time is remarkable. Extending the perspective, the Seminoles have won 21 of 22 games and 28 of their last 30. Even in Bobby Bowden's legendary dynasty years, Florida State only went undefeated a single time -- and that was 12-0. For point of reference, Florida has never had a perfect season.
One loss wouldn't necessarily knock the Seminoles from national title contention as a four-team playoff field leaves a little more wiggle room at the top. With any defeat, however, comes scoreboard-watching and finger-crossing. If the past tells us FSU won't go undefeated, it may be the placement of a potential loss that determines the postseason fate of the defending national champions.
Florida State may very well be the best team in the country this fall. Beating the odds may prove tougher than beating the competition.