Noles Blacked Out: Team That Surpassed Expectations Is Now Back to Reality

Chris WhitmoreCorrespondent INovember 17, 2008

In the summer, FSU's preseason expectations were not very much following consecutive 7-6 seasons.  No sports publications even predicted FSU in the ACC Championship game. The Seminoles headed into the season with an inexperienced quarterback, an inexperienced offensive line, and suspensions carrying over from the 2007 academic scandal. 

When Wake shut down the FSU offense in the 12-3 loss in Tallahassee, many expected those expectations to come true, and that an 8-4 regular season record would be an improvement.

Then came the October surprise.  FSU bulled through its October schedule with conference wins over Miami, N.C. State, and Virginia Tech.  FSU was suddenly heading into the final month of their schedule with a 6-1 record and talks of going to the ACC Championship game.

Fast-forward to three weeks into November, and FSU sits 7-3—and the fans are disappointed.  Though a chance to represent the Atlantic Division in December at the ACC game is not completely out of reach (FSU must win against Maryland and have BC beat Wake Forest and then lose to Maryland), the October games gave FSU fans unfounded confidence in their team not seen in years.

The loss to Boston College stung.  The praised FSU defense struggled against Boston College, and for the fourth straight year since BC joined the ACC, the visiting team won in an FSU/BC game.

No one will know how the suspended receivers (Bert Reed, Taiwan Easterling, and Corey Surrency) would have helped in the outcome of the game, but they would have provided extra targets and speed for Christian Ponder.

But heading into games at Maryland and against Florida with a 7-3 record is not something the October FSU fans would have wanted.  With a team as young as Florida State, it only seemed inevitable when their youth caught up with them. 

Many teams would be grateful that the youth of their football team finally caught up with them in the 12th week of the season.  But the wins in October allowed fans to look past the youth and gain confidence in the young Seminoles.

The Atlantic Division is still completely up for grabs for four of the six teams in the division, with FSU still very well remaining in the mix. 

What the FSU Seminoles need now from their fans is the same confidence from October when they head to Maryland in a game that very well may serve as an elimination game from the ACC Championship game.

Next Saturday will feature no black-out gimmicks, no suspensions (as of now—game is still five days away), and the feel-good story of Myron Rolle interviewing for the Rhodes Scholarship and flying up to Maryland for the second half of the game. 

On paper this year, Maryland should lose this game.  All three of their losses have come against teams they were favored to beat (Middle Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech).  The Terps come into the game ranked 22nd and have only been ranked one other time this season, when they proceeded to choke away the ranking with a 23-13 loss to Virginia Tech on Nov. 6.

FSU has bounced back from its previous three losses with a win, and with an ACC Championship Game berth on the line with their visit to Maryland, anything can happen Saturday.  In the ACC in 2008, anything has already happened in the conference that is two games away from the end of the regular season and still has no clear top team in each division.