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Takeaway Tuesday: Breaking BC, bowling, trolling and more

FSU stormed into Beantown where it had a commanding 26-3 lead over Boston College with just over 12 minutes left in the third quarter. However, the Eagles came storming back and had a chance to either tie or take the lead on the last offensive possession of the game. The Seminoles were able to hold on to the lead and walked out with a win, a 5-6 record and are now a victory over Florida away from going to a bowl.

That has left me, as I am sure it has you, too, with a lot to look back on and look forward to as the Seminoles enter the last week of the regular season. Here are some of the things, I think, I think after week 11 of the FSU and the college football season.

The first half of the BC game was FSU’s best half of football all season. The defense was dominant and the offense balanced and productive. That fast start and the complementary football it played in the first two-plus quarters allowed the Seminoles to withstand a furious second-half comeback by the Eagles.

BC did make it much closer in the second half than it should have been. And you can even submit that there may have been a little bit of letdown by a young FSU football team that hasn’t played with a lot of big leads. But that letdown was not helped by BC’s 12th man on Saturday, the ACC officiating crew assigned to the game. I don’t bring up officiating much because it usually works itself out over the course of the game but I can think of at least four calls that absolutely should have not been called against FSU and that is being conservative.

It sure would be nice to get watch Jermaine Johnson and Keir Thomas suit up two more times for FSU. The production, intensity and leadership they have brought have been instrumental to the improvement on the defensive side of the ball this season. You never know how transfers will work out but Mike Norvell and Adam Fuller have probably gotten a lot more out of these two guys than even they thought they would. They have been impressive all season but were a two-man wrecking crew in Boston. They have been one-hit wonders in the most positive of ways. It might be hard to find two transfers on any roster in the country this season that have had a more significant impact on their team in a one-and-done scenario than these two players have.

It was fun to see wide receivers Ja’Khi Douglas and Malik McClain continue to get better. Douglas had four catches and, of course, McClain made a circus catch in the end zone for a touchdown. 

Heading into last week’s game, I felt if FSU were to beat BC on the road after beating Miami at home the momentum and confidence it would provide going into the Florida game would give it more than a very good chance to beat a Dan Mullen Gator-coached team. Now, without Mullen and former defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who was fired by Mullen last week prior to his own firing, on the sideline this week I like the Seminoles’ chances even more.

This FSU-Florida matchup might not have implications on the national stage but the outcome will have significant immediate impact on both programs. The winner goes to a bowl game, the loser can start their Christmas shopping early. FSU qualifying for a bowl by winning in the Swamp would be really sweet, but qualifying for a bowl while at the same time keeping your arch-enemy out of one would be priceless. 

After an 0-4 start, no one outside of the Moore Athletic Center thought FSU would be heading to Gainesville with the potential to go bowling in December.

Florida’s coaching staff will likely not deviate much from what they have done schematically on offense or defense this week against FSU with only five days to put together a game plan. But with the remaining staff playing with house-money for one game I think the Gators will take some chances against the Seminoles it might not have if Mullen was still dancing on the sidelines. That is likely to come in the form of trick plays and trying to convert fourth-down opportunities on offense, blitzing more on defense to try to rattle Jordan Travis and take some chances in the kicking game with some fake field goals and/or punts, going hard after punt block and maybe an onside kick.

FSU has finished the regular season at or within a game or two of the .500 mark in four of the last five seasons. It’s amazing how much two years can change our perspective yet the numbers read the same. There was a sense of despair surrounding those .500, or close to it, finishes in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Should the 2021 version of FSU football find a way to get to 6-6 it might be one the most talked about average teams in FSU history. Of course FSU has won five of its last seven games after an 0-4 start so there is plenty to be positive and thankful as it pertains to this team entering the rivalry week that is Thanksgiving weekend. And regardless of what happens on Saturday against the Gators, there should still be plenty of positive energy surrounding the program heading into Mike Norvell’s third season in Tallahassee.

Speaking of coaches, it was cool this past Saturday that the players requested that Norvell let defensive coordinator Adam Fuller break the Boston College victory rock in the postgame locker room. The often-criticized Fuller has stayed the course this season and it has paid dividends with a defense that seems to get a little better each week. As we all know ceremonies and traditions like this are held in high regard by the players, coaches and anyone else closely associated with the program. So the request by the players to have Fuller break the rock says volumes about how they feel about him. It had to be a really cool moment for Fuller.

My favorite postgame celebration might have come from Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz after his team beat Florida this past Saturday. The Missouri coach pulled out a Stars War lightsaber as he walked away from his presser. He was trolling now-departed Florida coach Dan Mullen, who famously dressed as Darth Vader after the Gators beat Drinkwitz’s Tigers in a very contentious matchup last year. Well played, Eli. Well played. 

My rivalry weekend picks: Mississippi State over Ole Miss, UCF over USF, NC State over UNC, Washington State over Washington, Ohio State over Michigan, Georgia over Georgia Tech, Alabama over Auburn, South Carolina over Clemson, UVA over Virginia Tech, Arizona State over Arizona, Texas A&M over LSU, Kentucky over Louisville, Oklahoma State over Oklahoma and FSU over Florida.