Wake Forest 35, Florida State 30.
Last week, surveying Florida State's 2-2 start in light of its… let's say, inconsistent track record over the last five years, I said we won't be able to make a call on the Seminoles until well into November, at the earliest. Today, I stand corrected: We know exactly where FSU is headed, and it's straight to the bottom of the ACC standings.
Losing to Oklahoma and Clemson by a combined 15 points is one thing. Committing five turnovers en route to your fourth loss to Wake Forest in six years? That's a Florida State thing. Coming into this season, the Seminoles had been bounced from the polls following an early loss in four consecutive Septembers from 2007-10. Today's loss in Winston-Salem only missed extending the streak to five years by a bye week on FSU's schedule. It was the 'Noles' seventh straight loss as a ranked team against an unranked road underdog dating back to 2005. Read that sentence again.
So: No, despite the highest expectations in nearly a decade from the preseason polls, this is not the year that FSU makes its move toward rejoining the national elite. Barring a dramatic turnaround — accompanied by a dramatic collapse by still-undefeated Clemson, which is never out of the question — it's not even the year FSU rejoins the ACC elite, if there is such a thing. It's just another year that they've failed spectacularly to meet expectations with the most talent in the conference, by losing to a team with arguably the least talent.
That's especially deflating in 2011, the second year under head coach Jimbo Fisher, because the "underachiever" rap was supposed to go out with Bobby Bowden and his over-the-hill coaching staff. Last year, with the Atlantic Division title, blowout wins over Miami and Florida and a convincing bowl win over South Carolina, looked a clear step forward. Recruiting is on the upswing. The defense finished September ranked in the top 10 nationally in yards allowed. The next five games on the schedule looked like gimmes. Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Virginia Tech are nowhere to be found. Starting quarterback E.J. Manuel was healthy and back in the lineup.
There are no excuses. For now, there's only a slot alongside Boston College and N.C. State in last place.