FSU's Ability to Finish Games Makes 'Noles the Most Dangerous Playoff Threat

Bob Ferrante@@bobferranteContributor INovember 23, 2014

Florida State and Jameis Winston put together a game-winning drive in the final seconds on Saturday to beat Boston College.
Florida State and Jameis Winston put together a game-winning drive in the final seconds on Saturday to beat Boston College.Jeff Gammons/Getty Images

Give Florida State points for creativity. The Seminoles find players—and ways—to win almost every Saturday.

FSU has won by playing poorly in the first half only to make second-half adjustments. The team has alternately leaned on quarterback Jameis Winston, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, the freshmen, the running game and, on Saturday, a Roberto Aguayo field goal with three seconds left to seal a 20-17 win.

While critics have hammered FSU for what it's not, the Seminoles can enjoy who they are: the last unbeaten team in the power-five conferences. They've done it in the most unpredictable of ways. And that makes them a threat to any team (on a neutral field) in a playoff setting.

And 11-0 says plenty, at least from where coach Jimbo Fisher is sitting.

"We finish every game," Fisher said. "Everybody else in the country has not finished at least one game. We've finished every one of them. Isn't that the object?"

Yes, it is. But at a time when FSU's schedule is being scrutinized, when style points are of importance and when "game control" has become the catchphrase of the week, should there be doubts that the Seminoles belong in the top 4 of the College Football Playoff?

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"Why would it?" Fisher said. "We're undefeated."

FSU won't earn many points for how it plays in the first half. It's not pretty, even though the Seminoles did have 17 points in the first half against Boston College. This time, it was a sluggish second half in which FSU punted twice and Aguayo missed a field goal before the final game-winning drive.

The Seminoles are the best closer in college football. They are Mariano Rivera in his prime. Maybe they don't have their best stuff each night. But their stuff is still plenty good to get the win.

Just ask Clemson, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Louisville and Miami. All of them gave FSU everything they had, jumped out to big leads...and fell short in the second half.

On Saturday, Boston College was the latest to give it a try. The Eagles ran often and ran well, rushing 51 times for 240 yards against an FSU defense that was clearly worn down late.

Boston College tied the game at 17 in the third quarter on Tyler Murphy's 21-yard run. But then FSU held tough, forcing the Eagles to punt and then stopped Boston College short of the end zone with 4:37 to go (a missed field goal kept the game tied).

Winston and Co. took over from there. In a clock-sapping 12-play drive, Winston completed two passes to Rashad Greene and another to Dalvin Cook. And Karlos Williams and Cook chewed up the field on seven carries to put the Noles in position for Aguayo's game-winning kick.

A year after dominating opponents, FSU is winning the opposite way. To Winston, no matter how FSU wins there is criticism.

"We were downgraded every time we blew someone out last year, so think of the irony of that," Winston said. "If we win the game close, we're bad. When we blow someone out, we're bad."

Perspective is a funny thing. But, for the record, FSU has won 27 straight times.

Bob Ferrante is the lead FSU writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Stats are courtesy of seminoles.com. Follow Bob on Twitter.

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