Florida State finally gets a statement win under Jimbo Fisher

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From the moment our preseason top 25 was released, to last week when the demons (of Wake Forest) were finally exorcised, we here at CFT have thought long and thought hard about whether Florida State was really… you know…”back.”

It’s a four-letter word of vulgar yet somehow simultaneously diluted meaning because it’s a movie we’ve seen before. The plot goes as such: the Seminoles enter the season with lofty expectations with promises that this finally the year of a return to national prominence, only to underachieve and end up in the Champs Sports Bowl.

Though FSU was 3-0 heading into tonight’s game against No. 10 Clemson, could you blame anyone for thinking this year was any different? Sure, a 69-3 season-opening win over Murray State and consecutive shutouts against Savannah State and Wake Forest is worth at least a raise of the eyebrow, but it’s also Murray State, Savannah State and Wake Forest.

So forgive me for having a Stephen A. Smith moment when I thought “the Clemson Tigers are not the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.”

As it turns out, though, Florida State may not be Florida State, or at least the Florida State of old. You know, the one that loses to Wake Forest and can’t beat top-ranked Oklahoma to thrust itself back into college football’s elite group. This time around, the fourth-ranked Seminoles seized the opportunity to knock off Clemson 49-37. It was Jimbo Fisher‘s first win over a top-10 team since taking over for Bobby Bowden in 2010.

And Fisher needed a big win. For all the hype, the top recruiting classes, FSU has had nothing meaningful to show for it in Fisher’s short tenure. The ACC needed it too. Since expanding to 12 members in 2005, the ACC has not become the football power conference it was expected to be. If anything, it’s been right around, or just above, the level of the Big East. To change its perception, the ACC needs a traditional power to be nationally relevant again.

What team better than Florida State?

Could that happen this year? Perhaps. We’re not ready to use the “B-word” just yet, but the ‘Noles continue to give off the appearance that they’re for real (and we mean it this time, we think).  Keep in mind that September is for overreactions, October should be when the polls are first released and November is for separating the contenders from the pretenders. So right now, everyone’s just guessing. Want to stop the guesses? Keep winning and no one will wonder about Florida State.

They’ll wonder if the Mayans were right.

Tennessee LB booted from Florida loss releases statement

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On a night the Vols celebrated their 1998 national championship team, Tennessee played about as far away from national championship-caliber football as you’ll ever see a Tennessee team play. The Vols lost to Florida 47-21 in a game that was simultaneously better and worse than the final score. Tennessee was only out-gained 387-364 and won the first downs battle 18-14, but much of that was due all the short fields the Vols gave Florida after coughing up half a dozen turnovers. When fans started pouring out of Neyland Stadium early in the third quarter, the scoreboard read Florida 33, Tennessee 3.

And that’s not all.

Over the course of the game, head coach Jeremy Pruitt told linebacker Quart’e Sapp to leave the field after Sapp, Pruitt said, declined to enter the game.

“Since I’ve been here, Quarte has been a really good ambassador to our program, he’s done everything I’ve asked him,” Pruitt said. “He left the field because he wouldn’t go into the game when he was asked to go in. I don’t know how things were done before, but when you tell somebody to go in and they refuse to go in, we’re not going to do that around here. So I asked him to leave.”

On Sunday, Sapp released a statement on Twitter saying he did not refuse to go in the game. Sapp’s statement does not clarify exactly what happened, but he expressly denies he was asked to enter the game and refused.

“During the UT vs. UF game I was never asked nor did I refuse to go into the game. There was a sideline confrontation (I’m sure will be resolve internally that occurred and the other party had to be restrained.”

Sapp, a redshirt junior, was listed as Tennessee’s No. 2 weakside linebacker entering the Florida game. Given the praise Pruitt heaped upon Sapp above and the fact Tennessee can’t exactly turn away able bodies with Georgia, Auburn and Alabama coming up in its next three games, but bet here is this spat gets resolved internally and everyone moves on.

Minnesota DB Antoine Winfield, Jr. to miss remainder of season with foot injury

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For the second year in a row, Antoine Winfield, Jr.‘s season ends just four games after it started.

After appearing in 12 games and starting nine as a true freshman in 2016, Winfield was lost for the year four games into his sophomore campaign of 2017. He obtained a hardship waiver to play this season as a redshirt sophomore, but now will miss the rest of the season to a foot injury suffered in a 42-13 loss to Maryland on Saturday.

He will undergo surgery on Monday.

In a statement announcing the injury, Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck announced the Gophers will pursue another hardship waiver for Winfield, meaning he would be a fourth-year sophomore in 2019 if approved.

Winfield is the second Gopher to be lost for the season, following running back Rodney Smith.

“We are heartbroken for Antoine,” Fleck said. “Like Rodney Smith, I know he will keep his oar in the water, keep moving forward and will work tirelessly to return to the field next season. We believe Antoine meets the waiver requirement for a sixth year of eligibility and we will file that waiver with the NCAA at the conclusion of the season.”

Winfield led all Gophers defensive backs with 17 tackles on the year while tying for the team lead with one interception. He was also the team’s punt returner, notching a 76-yard score in a 48-10 win over New Mexico State on Sept. 1 and a 31-yard return in a 26-3 defeat of Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 15.

Minnesota (3-1) is off Saturday before visiting Iowa on Oct. 6

Wake Forest fires defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel

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Wake Forest has relieved defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel of duties, head coach Dave Clawson announced Sunday.

After starting the season 2-0 with wins over Tulane and Towson, the Demon Deacons have allowed 97 points in consecutive losses to Boston College and No. 8 Notre Dame.

“This was a difficult decision and not a spur of the moment decision,” said Clawson.  “I want to thank Coach Sawvel for all his hard work with our football program over the last two years.  Coach Sawvel is a very good person and a good football coach.”

Wake Forest ranks 110th nationally in yards per play allowed (6.35) and 106th in scoring (33.5).

With Sawvel out, defensive analyst Tom Gilmore has been elevated to the full-time staff as outside linebackers coach. Coordinator duties will be split up amongst the remaining staff, and specific duties have yet to be assigned. Gilmore joined the Wake staff over the summer; he was formerly the head coach at Holy Cross.

Wake Forest (2-2) hosts Rice on Saturday.

Virginia Tech dismisses DE Trevon Hill

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Virginia Tech had a disaster of a night Saturday in Norfolk, falling to winless Old Dominion in a 49-35 stunner. The Monarchs dropped 632 yards on the hapless Hokies, the most ever allowed by a Bud Foster defense, and surrendered 28 fourth quarter points to turn a 28-21 lead into a 49-35 loss.

Perhaps such a performance, shocking as it may be, was inevitable after losing 10 players from last year’s defense, including four over the summer.

But if that’s the standard for how Virginia Tech will defend, things are about to get a whole lot worse. Head coach Justin Fuente announced Sunday that starting defensive end Trevon Hill has been booted from the team, effective immediately.

“After consultation with our coaching staff and administration at Virginia Tech, Trevon Hill has been dismissed from the football team effective immediately for not upholding the high standards that we have for our student-athletes at Virginia Tech,”’ Fuente said in a statement. “I will always put the interests of Virginia Tech and our team first no matter how difficult those decisions may be.”

Hill was, and still is, Virginia Tech’s leader in sacks (3.5) and tackles for loss (4.5). No other Hokie has more than one sack through three games.

He seems to be taking it… well.

As if that wasn’t enough, starting quarterback Josh Jackson left the ODU loss with an injury, and a team spokesman had no update on Sunday.

The Hokies (2-1) visit unbeaten Duke on Saturday night (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2).