The Daily Nole

Hot Take Tuesday: FSU Football is Lucky 2018 and 2019 Weren’t Worse

Mitch White/FSU athletics

It’s been a tumultuous three seasons for Florida State football. Since topping Michigan in an Orange Bowl thriller to close 2016 and finish in the top 10, the Seminoles are a combined 18-19.

Over the last three seasons, FSU fans have witnessed a national championship head coach leave Tallahassee for Texas A&M, the firing of his predecessor and a 36-year bowl streak and a 41-year streak of winning seasons go by the wayside. After 41 straight winning seasons, the Seminoles will need to upset Arizona State in the Sun Bowl to avoid a second straight losing campaign.

It may be a hard truth, but as bad as that sounds, FSU is fortunate that the last two seasons weren’t worse. The Seminoles are 11-13 over the last two seasons, but the line between 11-13 and 7-17 is pretty small.

Close games are a part of football. The good teams typically win them and the bad ones don’t. FSU was able to win some close games over the last two seasons, but a handful of them involved teams that had no business being in a 4-quarter dogfight with a program of the pedigree of Florida State.

The past two seasons have had their fair share of disasters. In two games against Clemson, the Seminoles have been outscored 104-24, which included the worst home and ACC loss in program history in 2018. In two games against Florida, FSU has been outscored 81-31 after winning the previous five.

The Seminoles have also had their two largest blown leads ever over the last two seasons. FSU let a 20-point lead slip away in a 28-27 loss at Miami in 2018 and squandered an 18-point lead in this season’s opener against Boise State in a home game where the location and time was changed at the last minute to the Seminoles’ advantage.

Over the last two seasons, nine of FSU’s 13 losses have come by at least 17 points. In the four others, it was unable to hold a fourth-quarter lead.

The 2018 season was the worst for Florida State since before the bicentennial as the Seminoles finished 5-7. During that campaign however, FSU was dangerously close to 2-10.

In two of the first three wins for the Seminoles, they were forced to rally. On the first occasion, FSU trailed Samford, an FCS team who finished just 6-5, for most of the night before finally going ahead for good with less than four minutes to play. Three weeks later, the Seminoles trailed a Louisville team that would finish 2-10 and without an ACC win with less than two minutes to play before the Cardinals inexplicably threw an interception on first down with the clock running and allowed FSU to win the game with a 58-yard scoring strike from Deondre Francois to Nyqwan Murray.

One week after blowing an 18-point lead to Boise State to open the season, FSU narrowly avoided perhaps the most embarrassing loss in program history. The Seminoles led Louisiana-Monroe 21-0 and by 17 in the second half before finding itself on the short end of a 35-31 score midway through the fourth quarter. The contest would go to overtime and after the teams traded touchdowns, FSU survived 45-44 on a missed extra point by the Warhawks.

The only teams that Florida State has defeated in each of the last two seasons were Louisville and Boston College. After getting a gift to beat the Cardinals in 2018, FSU nearly blew its third 3-score lead in four weeks this season at Doak Campbell Stadium. FSU raced to a 21-0 lead before falling behind 24-21. Louisville was driving to take a 2-score lead when safety Cyrus Fagan came up with a critical interception in the red zone in the fourth quarter and the Seminoles scored the game’s final 14 points in a 35-24 win.

In each case against the Eagles, FSU used a long touchdown pass with less than two minutes remaining to go ahead for good. In 2018, it came by way of a 74-yard bomb from Francois to Tamorrion Terry with the Seminoles trailing 21-16 in an eventual 22-21 victory. This season, FSU let a 10-point fourth quarter lead evaporate before James Blackman hit D.J. Matthews for the go-ahead 60-yard touchdown to go in front, 31-24, in an eventual 38-31 victory.

Given the disaster that the last two seasons were, the fact that FSU has a chance to beat Arizona State in El Paso and finish with a winning season is something to hang the proverbial hat on. Moving forward, new head coach Mike Norvell will look to try to do what Willie Taggart couldn’t and pull FSU out of a rut. He’s fortunate that rut wasn’t a massive sinkhole.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook. To pitch an idea, author a post or to learn more about The Daily Nole, email Mike Ferguson at

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