FSU Beat: Noles and Tigers Must Continue to Carry ACC Torch

After the epic battle between conference heavyweights Clemson and Florida State on Saturday night, the nature of the pressure surrounding the FSU football team now shifts. In front of the watchful eye of the college football world, the Noles and Tigers put on a great show and represented the ACC well by showcasing outstanding athletes all over the field and producing dazzling plays on offense, defense and special teams. The contest was filled with the type of drama that college football fans savor–self inflicted mistakes in light of the big moment, a chess match between elite coordinators, trick and gimmick plays, big hits, and an oddly dominant come from behind victory. Now that it’s over, and the Seminoles have found themselves victorious, they have a responsibility that they have not asked for and most likely will not be concerned with–carrying the ACC.

This has been long awaited and expected of Florida State, and whether Coach Jimbo Fisher and the team elects to acknowledge it or not, you can rest assured that the media narrative for the rest of the year will be surrounding how well the Seminoles play from here, whether or not they can win out against a mediocre schedule and be the elite team that college football media thinks they are supposed to be.

Florida State is likely to be favored in the rest of their games this season. A loss would obviously be disappointing, considering the legitimate talent gap between the Noles and the rest of their opponents. FSU will not face another offense nearly as talented on the offensive side of the ball as Clemson. Conversely, while Clemson has the more daunting road ahead, this is a Tiger squad that will not face a unit as deep and talented as Florida State’s defense.

The Seminoles have been charged with the expectation of being able to win out the rest of their schedule. Clemson is a team that has a legitimate shot at still winning 10 or 11 games on the year. For those who care at all about conference perception, it would be tough to scoff at two double digit win teams, both potentially playing in BCS Bowl games at season’s end. Neither team is a foregone lock for those types of finishes, and after Saturday they both have deficiencies that need to be shored up, but their chances do look good. Can the ACC avoid having their contenders trip up down the stretch? In the past, there have been trips and fumbles down the stretch of potentially great seasons against mediocre schedules.

Staying up emotionally and focused is the biggest test for both of these teams from here on out. Clemson has to accept that they are no longer in control of their own destiny and that–at least for the time being–their hopes of repeating as ACC Champions are dashed. They still have a lot to play for on the year, and they should be able to bounce back against Boston College.

For Florida State, they have to get back up from an emotional win and go on the road for the first time in 2012 against struggling USF. Knowing that they have put one of their toughest games behind them, can the Seminoles avoid allowing complacency to creep in and continue to prepare well on a weekly basis? Judging by Jimbo Fisher’s words, he is well aware that his team could have played a much better game, and despite the win against a tough opponent, the 3rd year head coach is not satisfied. That has to be what you want to hear if you’re an FSU fan.

Adam Tolliver, @primediscussion on TwitterAdam Tolliver is an Atlanta, GA native and college football enthusiast who has been covering Florida State Seminole sports for three years. He is currently a contributor at Tomahawknation.com and XOFan.com, where he consistently delivers honest and accurate commentary and reporting regarding Florida State Seminole Football and Men’s Basketball. You can find Adam’s personal twitter account @primediscussion, where he spouts out about all things under the sun, or you can follow @Unconquered_FSU, which is exclusively dedicated to FSU Sports.

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