ACC power rankings: What happened to Florida State?

Jimbo Fisher is leaving Florida State for Texas A&M
Jimbo Fisher is leaving Florida State for Texas A&M AP

Florida State used to be on the same level as Alabama.

During a three-year span from 2012 through ’14, FSU (39-3) had a better record than the Crimson Tide (36-5) and produced more NFL draft picks (29 to 24).

Each team won a national title (Alabama in ’12 and FSU in ’13) during that three-year period and each lost in the semifinal round of the inaugural College Football Playoff in ’14.

Fast forward to Saturday.

Alabama beat an unranked division opponent on the road by 55 points and looked terrifying in the process.

FSU lost to an unranked division opponent on the road by 23 points and looked terrifying in the process — for a different reason.

The Seminoles (1-2) were completely incompetent on Saturday, as they were the week before against a Division I-AA team and the week before that at home against an ACC opponent with a completely rebuilt defense.

Penalties, a lack of discipline, a lack of fundamental understanding of how to block and a lack of desire all led to Saturday’s 30-7 disaster at Syracuse.

First-year coach Willie Taggart certainly deserves some of the blame. Through three games, the Seminoles often look like they’ve never practiced.

More of the blame goes back to Jimbo Fisher. The offensive line has been a mess since the end of that three-year glory run and Fisher never fixed it. He never bothered to tweak his coaching staff or his offense. If you can’t block, you can’t win. Simple.

The defensive line, always FSU’s strength, has even fallen off. Fisher, after lifting the program to Alabama’s level earlier in the decade, went 25-12 in his final three seasons.

Alabama, by the way, went 41-3 over that same span. (It’s kind of impossible to do but we should probably appreciate Saban’s consistency more.)

Texas A&M offered Fisher $20,547 a day, for the next 10 years, so he did what any other coach would have done. He took the money. He also left FSU in a mess.

The 2013 FSU team was arguably the best in ACC history. Their point differential (a preposterous plus-553) is like DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak. It will never be duplicated.

On Saturday, it took FSU 53 minutes to score on Syracuse. This is the same Syracuse defense that in the opener gave up 35 points to Western Michigan … in the second half.

The Noles won 29 straight games at the height of Fisher’s reign. Three years later, they’re the worst team in the Atlantic Division.

On to “The Only* ACC Power Rankings That Matter:”

1. Clemson

Record: 3-0 overall

Last game: vs. Georgia Southern (W, 38-7)

Next game: Saturday, at Georgia Tech

It could be awhile before the Tigers are tested again.

2. Virginia Tech

Record: 2-0 overall, 1-0 ACC

Last game: vs. William & Mary (W, 62-17)

Next game: Saturday, at Old Dominion

Some Virginia Tech fans were upset the Hokies didn’t play this week. Those fans need to adjust their perspective.

3. Boston College

Record: 3-0 overall, 1-0 ACC

Last game: at Wake Forest (W, 41-34)

Next game: Saturday, at Purdue

The Eagles should be 5-0 and ranked in the top 25 when they come to Raleigh on Oct. 6.

4. Miami

Record: 2-1 overall

Last game: at Toledo (W, 49-24)

Next game: Saturday, vs. FIU

When quarterback Malik Rosier (five total touchdowns) is good, Miami is good. It’s not that complicated.

5. Duke

Record: 3-0 overall

Last game: at Baylor (W, 40-27)

Next game: Saturday, vs. N.C. Central

Don’t beat yourself. Even with all of Duke’s injuries, this philosophy leads to wins. The Blue Devils were turnover-free in their second straight road win over a Power 5 team.

6. N.C. State

Record: 2-0 overall

Last game: vs. Georgia State (W, 41-7)

Next game: Saturday, at Marshall

Dave Doeren’s 3-1 against Group of 5 teams on the road.

7. Syracuse

Record: 3-0 overall, 1-0 ACC

Last game: vs. Florida State (W, 30-7)

Next game: Saturday, vs. Connecticut

The Orange need to clean up their mistakes, and teach Eric Dungey how to avoid contact, but they get another inept opponent at home this week.

8. Wake Forest

Record: 2-1 overall, 0-1 ACC

Last game: vs. Boston College (L, 41-34)

Next game: Saturday, vs. Notre Dame

The defense is a problem. The Deacs can score with anyone, though.

9. Pittsburgh

Record: 2-1 overall, 1-0 ACC

Last game: vs. Georgia Tech (W, 24-19)

Next game: Saturday, at UNC

Remember, if you’re going to lose, lose big. The Panthers show some pride after the blowout loss to Penn State.

10. Georgia Tech

Record: 1-2 overall, 0-1 ACC

Last game: at Pittsburgh (L, 24-19)

Next game: Saturday, vs. Clemson

Bad loss for the Yellow Jackets and it only gets tougher this week with a visit from Clemson.

11. Virginia

Record: 2-1 overall

Last game: vs. Ohio (W, 45-31)

Next game: Saturday, vs. Louisville

Transfer quarterback Bryce Perkins (379 yards, three TDs) continues to shine. He will be a handful for N.C. State’s defense on Sept. 29.

12. Louisville

Record: 2-1 overall

Last game: vs. Western Kentucky (W, 20-17)

Next game: Saturday, at Virginia

Freshman quarterback Malik Cunningham saves the Cards for the second week in a row. Western Kentucky is not exactly Alabama (or even Kentucky). The Hilltoppers, who blew a 14-0 lead, lost to Maine on Sept. 8.

13. Florida State

Record: 1-2 overall, 0-2 ACC

Last game: at Syracuse (L, 30-7)

Next game: Saturday, vs. Northern Illinois

You should never trust a coach who’s willing to leave a good job after only one year.

14. UNC

Record: 0-2 overall

Last game: at ECU (L, 41-19)

Next game: Saturday, vs. Pittsburgh

Florence wiping out the UCF game was the first good break for the Tar Heels since Nick Weiler’s kick at Florida State in 2016.