It was the irony of all ironies.
On a day when all the SEC powers, with the exception of Alabama, lost, Florida State solidified itself as a national title contender through shutdown, lights-out defense.
Yes, the offense was phenomenal, putting up 51 points on the No. 3 team in the nation, but Florida State's defense also held the Tigers to seven points, unless you want to count a garbage-time score by Clemson. It was the defense, which was doubted even after its dominance of Maryland, that made the 'Noles look like they could beat anybody in the nation.
Florida State forced a single-game-high three turnovers, for both itself and for Clemson. Senior defensive back Lamarcus Joyner may have played the best game of his career, and sophomore Ronald Darby’s second-half interception gave FSU its most turnovers in a game since forcing four versus Florida in 2011.
“In my four years here, I think this is the first brotherhood I’ve been a part of to embrace that challenge, because of the tradition and the history we have here,” cornerback Lamarcus Joyner said to the press after the game. “There’s so much pressure to pick that back up, and this has been the first team to embrace that. And we’re doing a pretty good job with it.”
To put Joyner's game into perspective, the senior's three forced turnovers in the first half were more than any single team has managed against Clemson all year, in any game. This Florida State defense, one without big-name stars Bjoern Werner, Xavier Rhodes, Tank Carradine and Brandon Jenkins, is propelling this team to heights that nobody, not even the most optimistic of fans, could have possibly imagined.
To take Tajh Boyd, a redshirt senior who was at the front of the Heisman race, and make him look like a simple, run-of-the-mill quarterback; to take Sammy Watkins, one of the best wide receivers in the country, and limit him to only 84 yards receiving? It's unreal.
It sounds like what a certain team from Tuscaloosa has been doing to opponents for the last few years. This team has such potential, such greatness ahead of it, it's easy to get ahead of oneself and predict a national championship berth or even title.
To make such rash guesses is ludicrous—there is so much football to be played, and anything could happen.
But, it isn't out of the question. Not by a long shot.
All quotes and paraphrases were obtained either firsthand or via phone, unless otherwise noted.