The Daily Nole

Column: FSU Faces Must-Win to Preserve Bowl Streak

Mitch White/FSU athletics

We’re a quarter of the way through the 2018 season for Florida State — the first under head coach Willie Taggart — and there’s reason to believe that the nation’s longest bowl streak is in jeopardy…serious jeopardy.

Being 1-2 isn’t the end of the world for a lot of programs and it isn’t for FSU either. At this point however, reason for optimism is minimal.

Florida State returns home this week to take on Northern Illinois, who also comes in 1-2. Prior to the season, most would have considered this contest a certain victory for FSU, but that’s no longer the case. In fact when looking at the remaining schedule for Florida State, there isn’t one of those left on the docket.

Saturday’s contest at Doak Campbell Stadium is without a doubt a must-win if FSU hopes to run the nation’s longest bowl streak to 37 years. The notion of Florida State missing a bowl prior to the year with all the hype that surrounded Taggart and a young energetic staff seemed inconceivable. Yet, here we are.

The fact that FSU is 1-2 isn’t nearly as concerning as the way it is 1-2. The Seminoles have managed just five points per game against FBS competition and that’s against a young Virginia Tech defense in the opener and a Syracuse defense that yielded more than 600 yards, more than eight yards per carry and 42 points to Western Michigan.

To make matters worse, FSU will be down two starters up front on offense Saturday as both Landon Dickerson and Derrick Kelly are out. Taggart announced earlier this week that running back Khalan Laborn would miss the remainder of the season.

Preserving the nation’s longest bowl streak is really the only attainable goal left for FSU and that won’t be easy. Many believe it’s conceivable that Florida State won’t win another game this season and there is no real evidence at the moment to suggest they’re wrong. FSU’s only win came over FCS Samford and that required a game-winning touchdown with more than four minutes to play in a contest where the Seminoles forced five turnovers.

As we’ve mentioned multiple times at The Daily Nole, there are significant factors outside of Taggart’s control that are responsible for the terrible start. With nine games left in the regular season, the first-year head coach and staff must find a way to fix the seemingly unfixable.

As we’ve mentioned, no sudden coaching change is coming as it relates to Taggart, but beginning his tenure by allowing the nation’s longest bowl streak to end would erode a lot of the goodwill he spent the offseason building. For fans and the program alike, the streak matters and represents an extended period of excellence — or at least respectability. If it didn’t, FSU wouldn’t have rescheduled last season’s home contest with Louisiana-Monroe to get to six wins.

For bowl-eligibility, FSU needs to find five more wins on the schedule and at the moment, that’s a daunting task. No other team on the slate for Florida State currently has a losing record. If Florida State hopes to make a bowl appearance a reality, it needs to beat the Huskies on Saturday. Otherwise, this season could spiral into an atrocity not seen since the days of Darrell Mudra or Larry Jones.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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