Although Alabama has earned all the glory for winning three out of the last four national championships, they may have a worthy competitor on the horizon who can not only shatter their hopes of winning three straight titles but who can also do it in dominant fashion. While the ACC has hardly been known for it’s prestigious football programs, Florida State has made their presence known as a dominant football team that can win big anytime and anywhere.
Even though it may be unsurprising that a highly ranked team like the Seminoles are able to gash unranked opponents week in and week out, what they are able to do against legitimate ranked contenders is astounding. Against ranked opponents, the Seminoles have outscored the opposition by a score of 155-28 (two of those opponents were ranked in the top 10 at the time). Looking at these impressive accomplishments, it would appear that the Seminoles have both the gusto and well formed discipline to contest any opponent who they may face in the national championship game.
Of course, the crux of the Florida States supreme success begins and ends with the prolifically gifted freshman quarterback Jameis Winston. Out of all the top prospects at the quarterback position, Winston has the ability to be both consistently accurate while being swift when moving out the pocket. To top it all off, Winston has a hand cannon for an arm as he typically throws for just over 11 yards per pass attempt. Off the field, Winston displays the poise and reserved confidence of a proud and talented young man who leads by example, which further inspires his team to follow his lead despite his brief tenure as a college athlete.
While Winston unquestionably deserves a monumental amount of credit for his ample athletic contributions as a gifted freshman, the rest of the Seminoles football squad is likewise just as critical to this teams blooming success. Thus far, the Seminoles smash mouth defense has by far been one of the most impressive sights to see in all of college football as they have held their opponents to just 12 points per game (ranked 4th in NCAA). Between their intimidating defensive front which as proven to be merciless at rushing the passer and their sharp secondary (they tied a school record with six interceptions against Wake Forest), the Seminoles have a stacked and well orchestrated defense that has the aptitude to make the right plays at the right time.
Yet, even with the Seminoles inspirational success story, the inevitable notion of having to potentially contend with the juggernaut that is the Alabama Crimson Tide is still a daunting task even for this gifted team. Although the Seminoles defense has been lights out throughout the entire season, the Crimson Tide has the best defense in the NCAA (they only allow 10.6 points per game). To make the situation even more intimidating, the Crimson Tide have a tremendously stout rushing attack that garners 208.8 yards per carry.
However, even with Alabama’s undeniably intimidating physicality, the Seminoles have a jack-of-all-trades in Winston who can run and the throw the ball effectively. Although experienced quarterback AJ McCarron is hardly a push over as he is considered one of the most accurate pocket passers in the game (he has completed 69.4% of his passes this season), he doesn’t have Winston’s mobility or sheer dominance when it comes to throwing the ball from game to game. In terms of passing yards, Winston dominates McCarron as he has thrown for 324.7 yards per game (ranked 14th in NCAA) to McCarron’s 243.9 yards per game (Ranked 57th in the NCAA). Ultimately, if these two gifted passers go head to head, it will come down to who can make the big plays at the critical moments when either one of these defenses has a brief lapse in coverage. In that regard, Winston is more dynamic and has a better chance at completing deep throws which is essential in building up a teams momentum and morale to win the most important game of the season.
While the Seminoles will have to win out the rest of the season if they hope to be apart of the national championship game, they have proven that they are not only worthy of being one of those teams but that they have the potential to win it all. If this teams defense can continue remain dominant and Winston’s god like presence can remain intact, the Seminoles have a chance to spoil the Crimson Tides national championship celebrations.