The Daily Nole

FSU Football: Five Thoughts on First Half Schedule

Mitch White/FSU athletics

We’re at the midway point of the 2018 season as Florida State will try to relax this week for its open date.

The 3-3 record at this point is hardly encouraging as FSU prepares for a difficult stretch to end the year. The first half of the season and most recent performance against Miami offers plenty to ponder.

Looking back, here are five thoughts on the Seminoles’ slate of opponents from the first half:

1. Virginia Tech loss is still nothing to be ashamed of
We joked on our reaction podcast following Virginia Tech’s 49-35 loss to Old Dominion that the “quality loss” component for FSU in the opener went out the window, but that was mostly a fluke. Overall, the Hokies are still a solid program and very much a contender to win the ACC Coastal. Recently, they played Notre Dame tough into the second half despite being without starting quarterback Josh Jackson. Virginia Tech is also responsible for handing Duke its only loss. The remaining slate for Virginia Tech features the toughest games — Georgia Tech, Miami, Boston College and Virginia — at home and two winnable road contests against North Carolina and Pittsburgh.

2. Wins over Samford and Louisville look worse
Florida State needed to engineer fourth quarter touchdown drives to beat both Samford, a then top-10 FCS program, and Louisville. In hindsight, both of those victories look worse. The winning score against Samford came on a touchdown throw from Deondre Francois to tight end Tre’ McKitty with 4:03 to play. Against Louisville on Sept. 29, the Seminoles were gifted an inexplicable interception with under two minutes to play as the Cardinals elected to throw on first down with a 24-21 lead and less than two minutes remaining. The A.J. Westbrook pick led to Francois hitting Nyqwan Murray for a 58-yard touchdown with more than a minute to play.

Louisville since then has been blown out 66-31 at home by Georgia Tech and before that, needed to rally in the fourth quarter to beat Western Kentucky. The Cardinals were also unimpressive in a win over Indiana State. For the season, Samford is just 2-4. Given how FSU’s first half has gone, it’s hard to classify any win as “bad”, but both performances in hindsight left plenty to be desired.

3. The manner in which FSU lost at Syracuse is worse than the loss itself
Florida State’s 30-7 loss to Syracuse in the Carrier Dome on Sept. 15 remains embarrassing, but more because of the way it lost than the opponent. FSU was held to 240 yards and needed a fourth-quarter touchdown just to break up the shutout. As for Syracuse itself, the Orange proved capable of playing with elite teams, leading at Clemson until the Tigers found the end zone with 41 seconds to play in a 27-23 Clemson victory. Unfortunately for Syracuse, that was followed up by a 44-37 overtime loss at Pittsburgh.

4. Northern Illinois may be a pretty solid win
Florida State’s 37-19 victory over Northern Illinois didn’t seem like something to rave about at the time, but it is probably the most solid win for the Seminoles. The Huskies haven’t been overly impressive in MAC play, but are 3-0 in conference and contenders to claim the division and conference crown. The 37 points for FSU was the most allowed by Northern Illinois this season and that was against a team that played tough in the second half with the likes of Iowa and Utah. The Huskies were actually driving to win the game at Utah before throwing an interception return for a touchdown with 2:36 to play in a 17-6 loss. Utah led on the road against a good Washington State team with less than five minutes to play before topping a ranked Stanford team on the road last week, 40-21.

5. The Miami contest is the toughest to gauge at this point
The hardest game to come away with a takeaway may be last week’s contest at Miami. On one hand, Florida State hung tough on the road with a top-20 team before falling 28-27. On the other, it blew a 20-point lead and it’s not real clear just how good the Hurricanes are. Outside of FSU, Miami has a 33-17 loss to LSU in a contest that may not have been as close as the final score would indicate. The other wins for Miami are over Savannah State, Toledo, Florida International and North Carolina. Miami doesn’t have a win over a Power 5 team with a current winning record, but is still the current favorite to win the ACC Coastal.

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

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