Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Colleges

One more win, and FSU has its greatest team

Great team, those Seminoles of 1993. Looking back, that FSU team was delight for the senses. It was explosive, and it was relentless. It had the dynamic Charlie Ward, who won the Heisman, and All-American linebacker Derrick Brooks. Warrick Dunn was a freshman. Oh, were those guys fun to watch. Together, they won FSU's first national championship and, because of it, they will be cherished forever. On the other hand, with one more win, this FSU team will be better. Wonderful team, those Seminoles of 1999. Looking back, they were a force. They were unbeaten, and they were fierce. They had Peter Warrick, who finished sixth in the Heisman voting, and Chris Weinke, who would win it the following season. Together, they were the first team to ever lead the polls in every week of the season. Lots of nice memories there, too. On the other hand, with one more win, this FSU team will be better.

This is where a great season has led the current Seminoles. It isn't just that they are one win from the national title. They are one win from being the best by-gum team in the history of a school that has had a lot of teams that were by-gum good.

There has never been an FSU team this deep. There has never been one this dangerous. There has never been one that cruised through its regular season more easily.

Not even '93.

Not even '99.

It can be a tricky thing when a team takes on history. In a fan's memory, great teams never fumble and great teams never fall. Fans just remember the golden moments they have talked about for a lot of years. As great as Jameis Winston has been, for instance, it's still hard for some fans to accept him as the equal of Ward, a terrific college quarterback.

So why should a victory over Auburn make this team better than the '93 team?

Simple. To start with, that team lost a game.

You remember. FSU lost to Notre Dame that year, and when the Seminoles reached the national championship game, the howls could be heard across the nation.

Then there was the title game itself, in the Orange Bowl. FSU, a 17-point favorite, won 18-16 against a Nebraska team that would win the next two championships. It was a shaky enough win so that a lot of people forget just how good that FSU team was.

FSU had only one player — fullback William Floyd — taken in the first round of the following NFL draft. The year after, however, three players went. It's still mind-boggling to think that Brooks was only the third FSU defensive player drafted in the first round in 1995.

This FSU team hasn't faced the same schedule, but it has won every game in a stroll. And, along the way, Winston has thrown for almost 800 more yards than Ward did (and more than 700 yards more than Weinke did in '99).

So why should a victory over Auburn make this team better than the '99 team?

Simple. It's called "defense.''

That '99 team was wonderful on offense, but defensively, it left something to be desired. Five times, opponents scored 21 points or more on the Seminoles. By contrast, only one team has as many as 21 on this team (Boston College), and seven have been held to fewer than 10.

Nationally, FSU ranks sixth on defense (the same as the '93 team, by coincidence). If the Seminoles can control Auburn's elite rushing game, that will be the difference.

Strange, but in all three seasons, FSU has survived a scandal. In '93, it was the Foot Locker incident, where agents bought jackets and warmup suits for as many as 25 players. In '99, it was Warrick getting his discount at Dillard's.

This year, of course, it was the rape allegations against Winston that resulted in no charges.

Again, for the comparisons to hold up, FSU has to win. There have been a lot of FSU teams that were very good but didn't finish the job. The '96 team, which lost the title game to Florida. The '98 team, which lost the title game to Tennessee. The 2000 team, which lost the title game to Oklahoma.

After all, this is about championship teams.

One more win, and this FSU team will be the best the school ever had.

     
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