At various times since Florida State’s last national championship 10 years ago, rumors of the Seminoles’ return to relevance were always that. FSU seemingly battled with Miami to see who could stay most irrelevant and who could disappoint their fan base more.
If the second half of Sunday night’s 45-24 rout of then-No. 5 LSU is any indication, those days are over. Florida State looked the part of a potential national champion, ripping off 31 consecutive points to turn a close game into a blowout that had Tigers coach Brian Kelly questioning everything about his program.
Now the task for the fourth-ranked Seminoles, beginning with Saturday night’s home opener against Southern Miss in Tallahassee, Fla., is to maintain that form consistently.
“I told them before (Sunday) that they are built for a time like this,” Florida State coach Mike Norvell said. “This stage, two top 10 teams in the country.”
The Seminoles (1-0) scored on six straight possessions after a slow start, getting 342 yards and a career-high four touchdowns in the air from quarterback Jordan Travis. That noise one might have heard throughout the second half, other than the school’s war chant, was the hype machine cranking up Travis’ Heisman Trophy campaign.
Throwing to receivers like Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson will do nothing but help Travis’ chances of hoisting some hardware in December. Coleman caught nine passes for 122 yards and three scores, while Wilson chipped in seven catches and 104 yards.
It was the first time two Florida State receivers went over 100 yards in the same game in five years. It wouldn’t be a surprise if they did it again.
“Just knew it was a matter of time,” Travis said. “Just had to get locked in and stay focused and keep the main thing the main thing. … It’s fun out there and it’s fun winning football games.”
While the Seminoles allowed 460 total yards, they also sacked Jayden Daniels four times and forced a pair of turnovers. The defense didn’t permit any second-half points until a 75-yard touchdown pass in the final two minutes.
Meanwhile, Southern Miss also opened the season 1-0, cruising to a 40-14 win last weekend against FCS foe Alcorn State in Hattiesburg, Miss. New starting quarterback Billy Wiles, a Clemson transfer, completed 21 of 28 passes for 267 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
The third starting quarterback in as many years for the Golden Eagles, Wiles has certainly impressed third-year coach Will Hall.
“I thought Billy came out sharp. I thought he played really, really well,” Hall said. “We’re just way better at quarterback than we used to be. He’s a good player that pours everything he has into it.”
Wiles’ emergence should only aid the offense’s centerpiece, running back Frank Gore Jr., who rushed for 1,382 yards last year. Gore scored a touchdown last week on just six carries.
Florida State leads the all-time series between the teams 14-8 and took a 42-13 win on Dec. 27, 2017, in the teams’ last meeting at the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.
–Field Level Media