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Florida State looked apathetic in Orange Bowl win

Discover Orange Bowl - Northern Illinois v Florida State Getty Images

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.

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27 Responses to “Florida State looked apathetic in Orange Bowl win”
  1. monsterright says: Jan 2, 2013 4:25 AM

    Every year the OB (Open Bleachers) gives us a pathetic match-up to close out NYD. I couldn’t make it to the second half for the same reasons you spelled out here. This game should be at 9am so it would be considered a bonus, instead of a letdown.

  2. larrybrown43 says: Jan 2, 2013 6:05 AM

    I think even players/teams are catching on that these games are essentially no more than exhibitions.

    There are pretty much unwatchable, like the NBA.

  3. tonyricemajorharris says: Jan 2, 2013 6:11 AM

    Terrible job by the Ref’s. awful

  4. tg1896 says: Jan 2, 2013 6:17 AM

    Let me make sure I understand this – Fla State isn’t back, they underachieve, they’re terrible and the “hacks” have overhyped them – BUT NO MORE! If you were wrong before – what makes you right now?

    You are what your record says you are. Fla State 12-2. The end.

  5. alligatorsnapper says: Jan 2, 2013 7:15 AM

    As fans, we often want a decisive and overwhelming victory, but it is a win.

    A win.

    Unimpressive as some, and sometimes too many wins are, it is still a win. Florida State has won 12 games. 12. How many teams would trade them for that record? I know even my home team would.

    Maybe we should just rejoice in wins, as fans used to, and not have such high expectations?

  6. sanduskyshowerboy says: Jan 2, 2013 7:28 AM

    How is 31-10 not a blowout???

  7. sanduskyshowerboy says: Jan 2, 2013 7:36 AM

    This really gets my goat. A 31-10 blowout, cover the two touchdown point spread, going up against a Qb who received heisman votes, I’d say despite ej overthrowing receivers which he has always done and Jimbo’s awful horrible retarded play calling the noles looked good.

  8. macbull says: Jan 2, 2013 7:54 AM

    Why Florida State was matched up “with a MAC school”…just does not make sense.

    I sure didn’t watch the game, because I already knew how it would turn out.

    Florida State was given a patsy opponent, just to make them feel good about beating “someone”, I guess.

  9. hor2012 says: Jan 2, 2013 8:15 AM

    I can’t wait until we finally get this right. A four team playoff after all the bowls are over. Then we can put this crazy stuff to bed. FS and no business on the field with NIU.

  10. scalpemseminoles says: Jan 2, 2013 8:45 AM

    @hor2012

    Don’t you mean niu had no business on the field with Florida state

  11. autumnwind999 says: Jan 2, 2013 9:41 AM

    There was a big, big difference between NIU and the recent non-AQ Boise State, TCU and Utah teams to play in a BCS Bowl.

    NIU didn’t beat anyone all year. There was a graphic showing that NIU had the 120th ranked schedule in FBS this year. They even barely scraped by some average MAC teams. Meanwhile, you look back at those Boise teams and others and they were beating SEC/ACC teams on the road and beating their conference foes by 50 points.

    No doubt NIU getting into a BCS game was an abberation and they were bound to get steamrolled — would’ve been alot worse if not for some wildly inconsistent throws by Manuel and some terrible playcalling (how many times are you going to try low percentage, outside the numbers throws on 3rd and short rather than just impose your superior talent and either run or call some high percentage throws to convert?). But this shouldn’t preclude future non-AQ schools from getting into BCS games. Those schools still have a winning record in BCS bowls. The voters just need to do a little more digging when assigning their Top 25 rankings rather than just lazily bumping up teams with good records and unimpressive wins.

  12. autumnwind999 says: Jan 2, 2013 9:46 AM

    And I thought the officiating was fine.

    I have no idea what this sentence is referring to”

    “… 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 … ”

    I’m guessing that’s a reference to the late fumble by the WR near mid-field? Good call. Ball was popping loose just before his knee hit. Didn’t look so at first, but on the slow-mo replays you could definitely see it. Refs also made some very good, tough calls throughout. Sure they’ll miss one or two, but I think Millen was right on when he pointed out that they were doing a real good job.

  13. thegamecocker says: Jan 2, 2013 10:00 AM

    From the day NIU was selected I knew it was a mistake. If bowl games are about money and the best match-up, than Oklahoma should have been in this game. The TV ratings would have been much higher and the viewership much longer. I turned it off early as FSU had this game at 17-3…..Clemson v. LSU = great match-up / game; Georgia – Nebraska = great match-up / game; South Carolina v Michigan = great match-up / game; Wisconsin v Stanford = same.
    FSU had nothing to win, everything to lose. They did what they had to do and my sense is they could have totally embarrassed NIU if they were into it. They just went through the motions.

  14. florida727 says: Jan 2, 2013 10:01 AM

    As a Gator fan (37-26 :) ), I’ll try to be practical about my comments, but I was disappointed in FSU’s performance. 31-10 is NOT a blowout… on the scoreboard. They should have won by 40. The FSU O-line outweighed NIU’s D-line by an average of SIXTY pounds per man AND they were faster!

    Remember too, the score going into the 4th quarter was only 17-10 FSU. 3 of 14 on 3rd downs does also not help translate the game to a “blowout”.

    Conversely, it DOES translate to a blowout when you consider that FSU ran up 534 yards of total offense, while NIU had a pathetic 259, and just 83 on 32 rushing attempts (23 of those attempts by their QB, for only 44 yards).

    Lynch may want to give back some of those Heisman votes by the way. 15 of 41 passing? And if you take away his 22 yard run, he AVERAGED exactly ONE YARD PER CARRY for his other 22 carries! Welcome to real football, young man.

    Bottom line: if it weren’t for gimmick plays (fake punt, onside kick, etc.), this game genuinely would have been a blowout where most people look for it to be… on the scoreboard. And to think, as Ben points out, FSU sleep-walked through most of this game. Can you imagine what would have happened had they actually showed up? I went to bed long before this one was over… and I’ll probably do the same during tonight’s Florida-Louisville game.

  15. kozbee says: Jan 2, 2013 10:21 AM

    This bowl game should of been played at the beginning of bowl season and not on NEW Years.Glad i didnt waste my time watching it,the Twilight Zone was more fun watching.

  16. thegamecocker says: Jan 2, 2013 10:22 AM

    @florida727

    Don’t be so quick to dismiss Louisville. Their QB, if healthy, is an extraordinary player. His passing is very accurate, has a quick release, and he doesn’t make many mistakes with the ball. The Gator Defense has to show up tonight because Bridgewater can “nickle and dime” you to death. He is coming off an ankle injury so he will not be that mobile. The Gators should win this game but don’t take Louisville lightly. Plus Charlie Strong has proven to be a solid HC and knows Florida all too well. I’m rooting for the Gators and I’m sure many South Carolina fans are also…..like the Head Ball Coach has often said: “If not South Carolina, than let’s hope it’s Florida”.

  17. stem11 says: Jan 2, 2013 10:55 AM

    Florida727,

    If you went to bed early, then you probably shouldn’t comment on what you obviously missed. FSU went up by 21 and had the ball several more times and didn’t throw another pass as to not run up the score and embarrass the team. I’m an FSU fan and wasn’t happy about the matchup, but it was a blowout and could have been a lot worse had they wanted to blow them out.

  18. 8man says: Jan 2, 2013 11:22 AM

    This was just a bad matchup. Everyone, except for the BCS, apparently knew it. Programs like FSU want the best opponents for games like this. They didn’t get one.

    Go figure that the Michigan-Carolina matinee provided far more theater and highlights than this dog.

    Thinking about it harder, maybe these crappy games belong in prime time, so when they turn for the worse, we can just go to bed.

  19. jammsdad says: Jan 2, 2013 12:01 PM

    This was an even game for 2 1/2 quarters, though definitely assisted by some very good special team work by NIU it was an even game. If Martel Moore catches the pass thrown behind him after the onside kick they tie this game at 17.
    By the 4th Q, Florida State’s D line began to dominate but this NIU team came to play!

  20. chachooga says: Jan 2, 2013 12:43 PM

    Benny K articulating with his ACC bashing lame article, why it sooooooooo lame that NIU orange bowl and why it was lose lose situation for FSU.

    FSU orange bowl victor.
    Clemson beat LSU
    GT killed USC

    Not bad right? Oh yeah it was a fluke or something and the big10 big 12 and pac10…. Are sooo awesome.

  21. kozbee says: Jan 2, 2013 1:19 PM

    BCS lets do a better job of matching up teams next season,as for South Carolina congrats on a great win and Go Gators.And goodluck Bama..

  22. tlmoon2112 says: Jan 2, 2013 1:55 PM

    Gator fan here and there’s nobody I love to hate more then FSU and Alabama. That said, I have to defend FSU here. If I had been an FSU player, Id have to admit this was a very difficult game to get up for. We have no one to blame for this but the BCS, the same entity that forced LSU to replay a team they had already beaten for a trophy last year. The entire system is a joke and it can’t be tossed on the trash heap of history fast enough. NIU had no business on the field with FSU whatsoever and everyone knows it. How 31-10 is NOT a blowout is beyond me. Like someone else said, but for the gimmick plays and fake punts, it would have been far worse. The game was over when FSU scored right before the half.

    The BCS are “writers” like the moron who wrote this piece. Their stories are better used as toilet paper then anything else.

  23. pastabelly says: Jan 2, 2013 3:38 PM

    The automatic BCS bids to the lower conferences need to end. Anyone else think a South Carolina vs. FSU game would have been fun?

  24. alexturp says: Jan 2, 2013 3:52 PM

    FSU looked complacent, and I’d say the game was a comfortable win for the Noles, but not a blowout. Wish Jimbo would have stopped lining up in that gun split formation his team doesn’t run that well (yeah, yeah, I know they got a big run from Pryor). Why not use the weight-strength-speed advantage you have to pound NIU? Anyways, though I thought the quality of their play was poor in that fairly unforgivable loss to Florida, FSU have come a long way since Jimbo Fisher arrived and it shows. Some of the inferior team’s they’ve fielded in the past would havelost yesterday. They’re just not quite there yet. Hopefully, Jameius Winston takes them all the way.

  25. huskersrock1 says: Jan 2, 2013 5:17 PM

    Given the attendance at the non New Years Day bowls I think it is obvious what is needed is a 16 team playoff. Every game will be packed and the TV deal would be worth billions.

  26. autumnwind999 says: Jan 2, 2013 5:49 PM

    jammsdad says:Jan 2, 2013 12:01 PM

    This was an even game for 2 1/2 quarters, though definitely assisted by some very good special team work by NIU it was an even game. If Martel Moore catches the pass thrown behind him after the onside kick they tie this game at 17.
    By the 4th Q, Florida State’s D line began to dominate but this NIU team came to play!

    ————————————-

    Don’t think that’s accurate.

    Florida State was absolutely dominating that game throughout the first half. The score was only close because of horrendous 3rd down playcalling and poor execution. NIU’s only significant play in the first half was on a fake punt that, frankly, FSU should’ve seen coming.

    But really, it felt like Florida State should’ve been up about 31-0 at the half. That’s how lopsided it was.

    NIU came out with a little spark early in the 3rd quarter, but that was that.

  27. filmmaker19 says: Jan 5, 2013 5:24 AM

    NIU was robbed. FSU was a tad better, but NIU got ripped off on an endzone pass interference call as well as on a bogus fumble that set up a FSU touchdown. NIU is a top 20 team that belonged in a big bowl game. Nice showing by their fans as well.

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