Discover Orange Bowl - Northern Illinois v Florida State

Florida State looked apathetic in Orange Bowl win

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As expected, Florida State handled Northern Illinois. However, it wouldn’t be right to say Florida State handled Northern Illinois “with ease” because, well, Florida State almost never takes the easy route.

It’s frustrating to watch, really, and it has to be borderline torture for Seminoles fans. That’s insane when you realize you’re talking about an ultra-talented 12-win team, but Florida State has a knack recently for getting pumped for big games while not showing up for presumed wins against (sometimes far) inferior opponents. And there was no question from the moment the Orange Bowl began that the Seminoles were a bigger, faster and simply better than Northern Illinois.

So when No. 13 FSU struggled to put away No. 16 NIU for three quarters before eventually cruising to a 31-10 win, it was another “meh” performance from Jimbo Fisher‘s team. Yet it was a strange game in the sense that the Seminoles’ one or two-possession lead for most of the night felt much, much larger.

There were a couple of reasons for that. For one, NIU wasn’t able to do much offensively because man for man, pound for pound, it wasn’t winning any battles at any position — especially in the trenches. Florida State’s front four had Jordan Lynch running for his ever-loving life the entire time.

Secondly, upsets require some assistance. NIU had to play at the top of its game (which didn’t happen) plus catch FSU napping (which did) and catch a break or two (which most certainly did not happen). In fact, the Huskies were screwed out of a first down or two and a fumble that should not have been thanks to some of the worst officiating the college football world had seen since earlier that day in the Outback Bowl.

More than anything though, NIU was outmatched — just to indicate that point, fullback Lonnie Pryor was torching the Huskies’ defense for five carries, 134 yards and a pair of scores — and therefore unable to recover from mistakes as well as FSU could. The Huskies played hard and even mounted a mini rally in the third quarter. People can rant against NIU for not deserving a spot in the BCS — even an Orange Bowl rep reportedly jumped on top of that pile — but this team played the system just like everyone else, got rewarded, and showed up in Miami expecting to win. That’s about the most anybody could have expected.

Florida State is another story.

Granted, the Seminoles were stuck in a tough situation. Beat NIU and people shrug their shoulders because that’s what should have happened. Lose, and the embarrassment will be unfathomable. About the only thing Florida State could have done to break even was spear NIU in the heart and filet them by halftime. That didn’t happen. Even Lynch’s promise to wear down FSU’s defense last week, which now was apparently fabricated, didn’t seem to register with FSU; quite on the contrary, the ‘Noles seemed genuinely apathetic tonight.

That part’s at least a little understandable. Some of the play calling by Fisher was not. Between Pryor’s long scampers and James Wilder Jr.’s bruising, inside-the-tackles running, there was a point in the game where FSU was averaging over eight yards a carry. Yet, somehow, E.J. Manuel was informed that continuing to throw the ball was a good idea. Manuel didn’t have a bad night with 291 yards and a score, but he was inaccurate at times and was plagued by drops in others. It wasn’t until the end of the first half that the Seminoles converted a third down. FSU finished with three of those conversions on the night out of 14 attempts.

The problem is this wasn’t a one-time thing for Florida State. This team has struggled with consistency in recent years while being hyped way too much by hacks like us.

Not anymore. Not until the Seminoles prove without a doubt they’re “back.” They certainly didn’t prove it tonight.

Nick Saban’s dad ‘would’ve kicked me out of the house’ if he quit team

OXFORD, MS - SEPTEMBER 17:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide questions two flags on the field after a punt return touchdown against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Oxford, Mississippi.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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In Nick Saban‘s official response to quarterback Blake Barnett‘s abrupt departure from Alabama, the head coach described the program as “disappointed” in the impending transfer.

Unofficially? The Nicktator appears to be somewhat agitated by not only the move itself but the overall transfer climate in the sport.

Shortly after releasing the statement on Barnett, Saban appeared on his weekly radio show. While the quarterback’s name wasn’t specifically mentioned, it wasn’t hard to crack the code Saban was using in dropping pearls of wisdom from the lessons his West Virginia-born father had taught him.

From al.com‘s transcription of the interview:

It’s one of those things where I think the culture has changed a little bit,” Saban said. “I think there’s a certain pride people have in competition. There’s certain things that I was taught growing up about not quitting and seeing things through. I think if I would have come home and told my dad that I was going to quit the team, I think he would have kicked me out of the house. I don’t think I’d have a place to stay.

“My dad used to always say ‘The grass is always greener on top of the septic tank,'” Saban said. “So it always looks better someplace else. So you think, instead of facing your fears and really overcoming adversity and making yourself better through the competition, you go someplace else thinking it will be better there. But until you face your fears, you’re always going to have some of those issues or problems.

Exactly what Saban’s father would’ve thought of his son leaving the Miami Dolphins after just two years and his first losing season as a head coach to make the move to Alabama is unknown.

No determination yet for ‘appropriate discipline’ of arrested ‘Bama LB

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 15: The flag girls of the Alabama Crimson Tide marching band perform before the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 15, 2008 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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An off-field incident involving one of his Alabama football players has drawn a public response from Nick Saban.

Very early Thursday morning, Tim Williams was arrested university police officers and charged with carrying a pistol without a permit. Williams and another unidentified male were sitting in the linebackers’ vehicle in a Publix parking lot when an officer who approached the vehicle smelled marijuana. A search revealed said marijuana, which the other man, who was seated in the driver’s seat, claimed; a gun was also found, which Williams claimed.

However, Williams could not produce a permit, leading to the misdemeanor charge.

In a statement, Saban said that “[t]his kind of behavior is not condoned in our program.” That said, the head coach was not ready to say one way or the other what if any punitive measures the senior may face.

“This kind of behavior is not condoned in our program,” the coach’s statement began. “We are currently in the process of reviewing all of the information. Once we have a complete understanding of the situation, we will determine what we need to do in terms of the appropriate discipline.”

Entering the 2016 season, Williams was viewed by many as a potential, or even likely, first-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft. He has just 1.5 sacks in four games this season after totaling 10.5 in 15 games in 2015.

Josh Sweat should be good to go for FSU vs. UNC

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 24: Josh Sweat #9 of the Florida State Seminoles runs with a first half interception against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium on October 24, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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Derwin James is still at least a couple of weeks or so away from returning from his injury, but Florida State will likely get a talented defensive player back on the field this weekend anyway.

When asked Thursday if defensive end Josh Sweat will be available for the North Carolina game this weekend, Jimbo Fisher responded, “oh yeah.” Sweat sustained a meniscus injury in practice leading up to the Louisville game in Week 3 and, after it limited him in that contest, underwent surgery to repair the damage shortly thereafter.

At the time, the prognosis for a return was 1-2 weeks. Sweat missed the win over USF last weekend, but could see the field this weekend as he’s practiced the past couple of days.

“Healing really well, looks great” Fisher said in quotes distributed by the team. “We’ll see [Friday] morning, but [the knee] looks great.”

Sweat started nine of 13 games as a true freshman last season, and started the first two games in 2016 before the knee issue surfaced.

Greg Ward Jr., to Heisman voters: ‘Psssttt, I’m still here, don’t forget’

Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (1) runs past Connecticut defensive lineman Folorunso Fatukasi, left, en route to a 30-yard touchdown in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
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Deservedly so, most of the Heisman focus these first four-plus weeks of the 2016 season has been squarely on Lamar Jackson and the stunningly phenomenal season the Louisville quarterback is putting together. There are others, though, who merit mention.

Case in point? Greg Ward Jr.

In No. 6 Houston’s Thursday night 42-14 romp over UConn, the quarterback completed just over 84 percent of his passes for 389 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 65 yards and two scores for good measure. The win was the Cougars’ eighth in a row, with the last loss coming Nov. 21 of last year to… these very same Huskies.

On at least one occasion in avenging the loss, though, Ward Jr.’s sterling completion percentage got a little help from one of his receiving friends.

The latest virtuoso performance, which included his third 300-yard passing game of the season, pushed Ward Jr. to 1,503 yards of offense (1,325 passing, 178 rushing) and 13 total touchdowns (eight passing, five rushing) in four games while also battling a lingering shoulder issue. For comparison’s sake, and you know we’re not alone in doing so, Jackson will enter Week 5 with a statistical ledger that’s straight from a teenager’s video game: 1,856 yards of total offense and a ridiculous 25 total touchdowns in his four games.

While it’s still quite a ways down the road, Ward’s Cougars and Jackson’s Cardinals will square off in what’s shaping up to be a monumental mid-November Thursday night game that could go a long way in determining not only the Heisman race, but helping to shape the playoff picture as well.  In between, voters, don’t forget about the kid from Houston.