Let’s face it—even Nick Saban would have been scratching his head after the first quarter of the Clemson and Florida State game.
Chad Morris clearly knew there was a huge mismatch between his offensive line and FSU’s defensive line, so he came up with a galaxy of trick plays and misdirection stunts that shocked the nation’s top defense. He scored early and he scored fast.
Clemson’s offense was crackling like a wild bonfire and it had the vaunted and mighty Seminole defense on its heels. Tigers were running in every direction imaginable and lining up in unseen formations on every play
And then Mark Stoops shut it down. His players began to play more disciplined, and Clemson’s bag of tricks lost its luster.
Mark Stoops snatched the soul out of the Tigers’ bewildering offensive approach.
And then EJ Manuel, an emerging candidate for the Heisman Trophy, took over. He sliced and diced the Tigers’ secondary and utilized a stable of tailbacks who pounded the pill all game long. FSU’s offensive line manhandled the Tiger front and controlled the line of scrimmage. The ‘Noles gashed the Tigers for 49 points and that was the ball game.
But what does this mean going forward? Was beating Clemson, a team with an underwhelming offensive line and a suspect defense, a statement game?
Yes, and there’s more to it than that—it has national title implications.
What stands out to me is the mismatch in talent between two top-10 teams—Dabo Swinney knew he didn’t have the talent to just line up and beat Florida State. He knew he was overmatched at the line of scrimmage and in many other areas. He knew he had to come up with bizarre formations and wild schemes, which his team executed perfectly until it was all exposed.
And this should remind people of the FSU of old, the kind of team that can just drown you in talent.
There were times in this game, especially in the second half and after Stoops figured out all the tricks, when FSU just dominated Clemson, physically and mentally. You could see the FSU from the '90s. The Seminoles never panicked and just lined up and unleashed the talent. It wasn’t sophisticated—but it didn’t have to be.
This was clearly a signature win for Fisher and for the program. But with talk swirling about Oregon and Florida State being in contention to face Alabama in the BCS Championship game, I think people need to look at how Florida State won this game.
Clemson threw the kitchen sink and everything it had in its arsenal, some of the most bizarre plays imaginable, and Florida State wound up shutting it down and showcasing the kind of talent that it would take to beat the mighty Crimson Tide of Alabama.