Sports, Football, Top Story

To Steal From A King

With less than five minutes on the clock, Jameis Winston lined up in the shotgun with the game against the University of Miami on the line. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner, despite all of the controversy surrounding him this season, looked calm and poised—he usually does.

This drive, though—and this game, for that matter—would not be about him in the end.

On first down and 20, Winston flicked an easy screen pass out to running back Dalvin Cook, and he sat back as Cook weaved his way downfield before he was brought down on Miami’s 41-yard line. Cook received a handoff on the next play, knifing through the defense with ease and just barely missing pay dirt. The third time would prove to be the charm.

Cook took yet another handoff from Winston, and this time, found his way to the Promised Land. Making a mockery of Miami’s tackling, Cook fought his way into the end zone to bail out his struggling quarterback. An interception by Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey with under a minute remaining quashed a late Miami push, and Winston strutted onto the field to end the game with a knee.

It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pretty, but FSU found a way to win for the 26th consecutive game.

The Seminoles (10-0, 7-0 ACC) generally rely on Winston to carry them to victory, and that should be the case against Boston College (6-4, 3-3 ACC) this week as well. Offensive efficiency is Florida State’s strength, as it ranks 11th in passing yards and 17th in points per game in the country. Winston has struggled as of late on an injured ankle, lowering his completion percentage and increasing his number of turnovers in each month as the season has progressed. Winston has avoided throwing an interception in only two games this year—matches against The Citadel and Syracuse.

The running game is usually FSU’s Achilles heel, with its rushing yards per game in the bottom 20th percentile among FBS schools. Despite that statistic, Cook was able to play hero last week as he singlehandedly upended the Hurricanes on his final drive in Miami Gardens. BC enters the game with one of the best run-stopping defenses in the nation, so Cook will have his work cut out for him against the Eagles’ front seven.

Last year, FSU used big plays to take down BC on Parents Weekend in Chestnut Hill. With two touchdown passes of more than 50 yards, Winston relied on his ability to extend plays and his cannon of an arm to torch the Eagles’ secondary for 330 yards on just 17 completions. Winston was also its leading rusher in that game, gaining 67 yards on 14 carries.

So much has changed for Winston since he claimed the award for top college player last season. Stellar play on the field was overshadowed by sexual assault investigating, obscenity yelling, and crab leg swiping. Each new edition of SportsCenter seemed like another episode of the (hypothetical) TV show Everybody Hates Jameis, with new controversies seemingly appearing daily.

Yet despite all of this, FSU is winning football games. All of them. The ’Noles haven’t lost a game since President Barack Obama’s first term in office. Jimbo Fisher credits his high standards and the way the Seminole program is run, while Winston attributes the wins to Florida State’s regained “swag.”

The Seminoles have been the beneficiaries of one of the relatively easier Power Five conferences, as they have only played three ranked teams, compared to the University of Alabama’s five. FSU hasn’t even impressed in many of its cakewalk games, finding itself trailing against unranked teams North Carolina State, Virginia, and Miami.

With incumbent No. 1 Mississippi State’s loss to Alabama on Saturday, the Seminoles had a case to regain the top seed heading into the inaugural College Football Playoff, but were ultimately jumped by Alabama. They also didn’t do enough to convince the committee to push them ahead of Oregon for the second seed. BC has played up to superior opponents and also down to the level of its competition this season, but this slight will only make the Seminoles hungrier than usual.

Actor and comedian Kevin Hart visited Florida State’s football team before one of his shows at the university this past weekend, and he had a simple message for Winston: “Stop doing dumb s—t.” While he obviously has a point, it might be best for the Eagles if Winston brings the stupidity onto the football field this weekend.

Featured Image by Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff

November 19, 2014