FSU Football: Avoiding the Potential FCS Letdown Effect This Week

FSU football

Sep 5, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher hugs former Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston (center) after a game against the Mississippi Rebels at Camping World Stadium. Florida State Seminoles won 45-34. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

With FSU football coming off a big win over a SEC foe last week and a monster ACC battle soon, this week’s battle with a FCS team could be overlooked.

The Florida State Seminoles took care of business in Week One against the then-11th-ranked Ole Miss Rebels. In a back-and-forth affair, Florida State came out victorious by a final of 45-34. Freshman quarterback Deondre Francois was sensational after he got into the flow of his first game.

Up next on the schedule for FSU is a home game against Charleston Southern. Easy victory! Essentially a bye week! Let’s look ahead to Louisville, right?

Not so fast. These supposed FCS pushover games have been anything but thus far in 2016. The Seminoles would be foolish to overlook this week’s opponent in some combination of a letdown game after playing Mississippi and glancing ahead to No. 13 Louisville the following week.

The latter may be the team’s hardest game until it faces Clemson near the end of October. Playing on the road against the Cardinals is a tough ask for even the best teams in the country. That outcome could determine FSU’s playoff chances (glancing even further ahead).

It is easy to see how and why a roster would want to spend two weeks preparing with just Charleston Southern in between. But that would be a mistake.

Under any circumstances, completely disregarding an opponent is a mistake, even if that opponent plays in the Big South Conference of the FCS. This is especially true for a team that starts a redshirt freshman quarterback with just one game of experience in his career.

There is no way Francois is already comfortable enough in his game and in the offense to take breaks. His first game was exceptional, but the young man has 52 career pass attempts above high school. In what scenario is that player already prepared to overlook a college defense?

All that is enough to encourage FSU to take game two seriously. But then there are also the warning signs that the Seminoles got to benefit from: the shots fired at other Power 5 teams by “weak” or “cupcake” opponents in week one that prove college football isn’t as divided or top heavy as people think.

It began with the first game of the 2016 season when Appalachian State took ninth-ranked Tennessee to overtime. The Volunteers looked disheveled and disjointed. App State looked like a legitimate opponent, not a team that was in the FCS just a few years ago. And it wasn’t alone in taking a Power 5 stalwart to the brink (or even defeating it outright).

South Dakota State hung 41 points on TCU; Maine lost by three to Connecticut; Richmond beat Virginia and it wasn’t even a close game and Northern Iowa defeated Iowa State. Every one of those outcomes took place in just the first week of games this season. How can anyone see that slew of outcomes and not take pause?

In addition, Florida State has had its own issues with questionable opponents in years past. Jacksonville State gave the Seminoles a huge scare in 2009. It took multiple scores in the final minute of the ballgame for them to escape with a victory. As ESPN put it at the time, the late scores helped “to avoid arguably one of the most embarrassing upsets in school history.”

In 2007 and 2006, FSU had much more difficulty than it should have with UAB and Troy respectively. Fortunately, the last time State played Charleston Southern, it won handily, 62-10.

That came back in 2011. Now five years later, the team will need to put forth the same effort against the same school in order to keep their playoff hopes on schedule this year. Looking ahead won’t benefit anyone.

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