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3 posts from January 1, 2013

January 01, 2013

Halftime: Florida State 14 Northern Illinois 3


We're through a half at Sun Life Stadium and Florida State's defense has definitely come to play. The Seminoles won the opening coin toss and deferred so they could introduce themselves to Jordan Lynch. It didn't take long either, despite the NIU offense going three-and-out on their opening possession Florida State still managed to lay a good lick on him and Florida State linebacker Vince Williams wasted little time getting in Lynch's face.

Since then FSU has absolutely abused the Huskies' quarterback. He's currently 4/15 for 52 yards. He's run 12 times for 24 yards. And FSU is teeing off on him.

The Florida State offense on the other hand has yet to find a consistent rhythm. There are moments when the offense shows a glimmer of its potential, but aside from a touchdown on their second possession and right before the half, they found ways to squander most of their possessions despite moving the ball pretty well.

In the Seminoles' game against Miami here at Sun Life Stadium in October, Nick O'Leary fumbled trying to do too much on the opening drive. He did the same thing on Florida State's opening possession in the Orange Bowl too. After a good playfake that caught the NIU defense flat-footed, O'Leary caught a ball in the flat, got the first down and then put his shoulder down to challenge an NIU DB. He ended up fumbling the ball forward and the Huskies recovered. 

The Seminoles would score on their second drive when Lonnie Pryor broke a 60-yard touchdown run, but followed that score up with a punt on their third possession and then a missed 50-yard field goal on their fourth. They would drive to mid-field and punt on their fifth drive as well. The same thing happened on the Seminoles' sixth drive too. Herald reporter Manny Navarro used the term "constipated offense."

That would probably the most appropriate description. 

The Seminoles did finally manage to get things going again on their final drive of the first half when they marched 81 yards and scored their second touchdown of the game to go up 14-3. But frankly, this game looks like a typical Florida State road game. When they're away from the friendly confines of Doak Campbell stadium, things just don't run quite the same.

It's not an issue of moving the ball for Florida State- they racked up over 300 yards of offense in the first half- it's whether they can score. They were held scoreless in the second half against NC State and lost. Georgia Tech almost knocked them off after a flat second half last month during the ACC Championship game in Charlotte.

They should run away with this in the second half when depth becomes an issue. But who knows with Florida State.


Keep checking back here at the Herald FSU blog and follow me on Twitter for running updates, news and rapid reactions from tonight's Orange Bowl...

Orange Bowl Pregame: Northern Illinois vs. Florida State


We're about two and a half hours from the kickoff of the Discover Orange Bowl. Florida State (11-2, ACC Champions) will square off with Northern Illinois (12-1, MAC Champions) in a game that has more than a few interesting storylines heading in.

All week Northern Illinois has answered questions about whether they belong in this game with a brash confidence. They have a chip on their shoulder. Now they'll have the chance to back up the talk and prove to the world that Northern Illinois and the MAC are legitimate. Frankly, the trends and the precedents are on their side. Northern Illinois is designated as the "visiting team" tonight and the team in their road whites have won seven of the last eight Orange Bowls. 

Beyond that, schools from non-AQ conferences are 5-2 all time in BCS games, and 4-1 all-time against schools from BCS conferences. The lone BCS conference win over a non-AQ team was Georgia pounding Hawai'i 41-10 in the 2008 Sugar Bowl. But Pittsburgh, Oklahoma, Alabama and Wisconsin have all fallen victim to non-AQ competition in BCS games.

Typically that comes from complacency. Complacency has been an issue for the Florida State this year. It could be an issue tonight.

But then again, Jordan Lynch also gave Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles a gift last week when he told The Sporting News, "They're fast, they're physical, but they haven't seen anything like our offense... We plan on wearing them down. In the fourth quarter, we plan to have them on their knees and then just keep pounding away."

Florida State may do a better job of media-training their athletes, or Northern Illinois just may not care, but the Seminoles remained diplomatic in their interviews throughout the rest of the leadup to tonight's game. While NIU continued to voice their intention to shock the world, Florida State gave the partyline.

But when the recorders went off and the camera lights dimmed, it wasn't tough to see that Florida State is more than a little angry. We'll find out tonight if that anger translates into a good performance, but if NIU was hoping the Seminoles would sleepwalk, they dramatically diminished those chances with their media presence this week.

Anything can happen tonight. Florida State is the more talented team, Northern Illinois is the hungrier team. The scripted ending might have Northern Illinois pulling an epic, BCS-busting upset. Or possibly a highly-motivated Florida State team punishing NIU for its hubris.

But the beauty of sports though- as Jimbo Fisher reminded everyone on Monday morning- is that they aren't a movie. They're not scripted. In college football once things kick off, it's anyone's game.

Tonight's Orange Bowl- even despite a ton of initial buzz- may wind up being one heck of a showdown.

Kickoff: 8:30 PM


Announcers: Joe Tessitore (play-by-play), Matt Millen (color), Maria Taylor (sideline)

Officiating Crew: Southeastern Conference, Matt Moore (Head Referee), Ben Oldham (Replay Official)


Keep checking back here at the Herald FSU blog and follow me on Twitter for running updates, news and rapid reactions from tonight's Orange Bowl...

The ACC Needs the Real Florida State to Show Up for Tonight's Orange Bowl


Tonight all eyes around the ACC- and the country- will be on Florida State and their Orange Bowl matchup with Northern Illinois. For the first time in seemingly years the Atlantic Coast Conference has an opportunity to come out of bowl season with some semblance of respectability. 

Despite how it's spun on ESPN, yesterday was a big day for the ACC. NC State phoned in a lousy Music City Bowl effort in their loss to Vanderbilt. But then Georgia Tech staved off some potential conference embarrassment in the Sun Bowl by beating USC and finishing the year with a 7-7 mark. While 7-7 is hardly the sort of year to write home about, a 6-8 bowl team would've been even more egg on the face of the ACC. 

In the nightcap, Clemson upset LSU in the Chick-Fil-A bowl. SEC-apologists have called it an LSU-meltdown, but there's no place on the trophy that says how you won it. Clemson and the ACC pulled off a big win over an SEC opponent and the ACC heads into tonight looking pretty solid.

Through five bowl games the Atlantic Coast Conference is 3-2 with a shot to finish 4-2 if its reigning champion, no. 12 Florida State, can handle its business against no. 15 Northern Illinois in tonight's Orange Bowl game. 

But whether Florida State handles its business- which on paper they should- is a completely different story.

Depending on which Florida State team shows up for tonight's game, tonight could be a blowout or a nailbiter. It's almost entirely up to the Seminoles.

FSU was essentially two completely different teams this year depending on where they played. At Doak Campbell Stadium Florida State won their games by an average score of 50-13. They averaged 543 yards of offense per game. They looked like a top ten football team.

When the Seminoles left Doak in 2012 though, watch out. The offense averages 22 few points per game (28) and gains 169 fewer yards (374 ypg) when they're on the road. And even those numbers might not tell the whole story.

USF fired their coach this year but gave Florida State a game that went well into the third quarter. The next week NC State beat the Seminoles in Raleigh, 17-16. The Wolfpack also fired their coach this year and hired NIU's old coach, Dave Doeren, after he BCS-busted his team into the Orange Bowl. 

Florida State trailed Miami 10-0 after starting flat the first time they played in Sun Life Stadium this year. They ended up winning 33-20, but struggled with an inferior Hurricane team into the second half.

In November, the 'Noles eked out a 28-22 win against Virginia Tech on the road in Blacksburg, though admittedly that is a difficult Thursday night atmosphere at Lane Stadium. Their best road performance came the next week when they clinched the Atlantic division of the ACC against a 4-8 Maryland team, 41-14. 

But the trend was short-lived, in Charlotte against a .500 Georgia Tech squad Florida State had to resort to a late Karlos Williams interception to close out the Yellow Jackets, 21-15. The game felt eerily similar to the loss at North Carolina State as the second have ground on.

Something happens when the Seminoles hit the road. While the defense has been consistent all season, the offense has a tough time finding rhythm when they're not playing on Bobby Bowden field. 

Tonight Florida State will look to get 2013 started on the right foot by putting together a dominating performance away from home. And if ever there were a reason Florida State might come out fired up for a road game this season, Northern Illinois has made sure to to give it to them in the week heading up to this game.

It may have been smart for the Huskies to play it humble this week, downplay the confidence a little bit and try to lull the Seminoles into a false sense of complacency.

They went the complete other direction though.

All week NIU has displayed a brash, at times seemingly-unwaranted confidence about this matchup. Their quarterback said they would have FSU's defense 'on its knees.' Their head coach, Rod Carey- in talking up his own offense- shrugged off Florida State's offense, characterizing them as 'not slouches.'

While nobody expected Northern Illinois to bow down to Florida State and the ACC, I doubt many people expected them to defiantly incite the Seminoles either.

But that's what's happened. They've attacked Florida State's pride. If ever there were a time for a sleeping road giant to wake up, now is that time.

By midnight tonight we should have a pretty good idea which Florida State team made the trip to Sun Life Stadium, there is no comparison between these teams in terms of talent, only in terms of desire. Northern Illinois has a chip on their shoulder, they want this game badly. 

But it's Florida State's for the taking.

And the rest of the ACC is hoping the Seminoles want it.


Keep checking back here at the Herald FSU blog and follow me on Twitter for running updates, news and rapid reactions from tonight's Orange Bowl...



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