Sometimes this happens. A team from a BCS conference struggles to beat a FCS team. In 2008, Georgia Tech escaped Gardner-Webb 10-7. Wisconsin needed the entire game to beat Cal-Poly. On Saturday, FSU needed the entire 60 minutes to beat Jacksonville State.
FSU did not play Jacksonville State like expected until the final two minutes when Christian Ponder drove the offense down the field and Ty Jones rushed for a touchdown to take a 13-9 lead. On the ensuing Jacksonville State Drive,quarterback Ryan Perrilloux was hit by Jaccobi McDaniel and Kevin McNeil picked up the fumble and returned it for a touchdown. That was the game FSU fans expected. Not a 19-9 win that was much closer than anyone expected. The loss to Miami felt more like a win and the win against Jacksonville State felt more like a loss.
But FSU can take this and go to BYU this Saturday. Jacksonville State runs the same base 3-4 defense BYU runs. Jimbo Fisher was given an idea of what type of plays could work against this defense and which do not.
The sluggish play by FSU was painfully obvious. They were still dealing with the last-minute loss to Miami just five days prior and two days of practice was not enough to put it behind them. Add in that the team travels to Provo to take on #7 BYU the following Saturday, it shows why they had a hard time focusing on FCS Jacksonville State.
The Noles might have also found their go-to receiver in Richard Goodman. He led the team with 80 yards including the 24 yard reception to set up the game-winning touchdown.
The defense though got lucky. Perriloux missed some wide open receivers. But this wasn't a normal FCS quarterback. This is a former five-star recruit, who was the winning QB in the 2007 SEC Championship game against Tennessee. The Noles will face probably the top passing quarterback they will see all season against BYU.
The BYU game will make or break the season for FSU. If they lose, they go 1-2 heading into a home game against USF and struggle to regain composure. They win, they regain confidence, the shoddy performance against Jax. State is erased and they notch a win over a top 10 team on the road. FSU looks to use their speed to create mismatches with the defense. If anything, the Jacksonville State game should do nothing but inspire the team to prove they are not a team that needed two touchdowns in the final minute of the game to beat a FCS team.
Simply, FSU is going to have to out-score BYU. They have the confidence of Christian Ponder who threw for a career high 324 yards against Jacksonville State who has shown the last two games that he is capable of leading the team down the field to win a game.