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FSU's Willie Reid escapes Virginia Tech defenders in the midst of his 83-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter of the inaugural ACC Championship game in Jacksonville. Photo by Mark Wallheiser for the Tallahassee Democrat. (2005)
I've been kinda quiet about FSU football this season for a couple of reasons. The primary reason is that Penn State football has been a lot more exciting. The second reason is that FSU has pretty much imploded over the last 5-6 weeks as we've racked up 4 losses for the first time in like 20 years.
By a logic-defying chain of events, we somehow ended up in the inaugural ACC Championship game in Jacksonville against #5 Virginia Tech. With us unranked and there being other blowouts by top ten teams earlier in the day, it was looking like FSU was going to be the poster child for unworthy football teams playing in conference championship games. With the score tied at 3-3 at halftime, the best we could say was, "Well, we're still in it." Then came the third quarter.
Just before the game, I told Candy that I knew we had the talent to win the game, but I wouldn't bet on FSU to pull it off. Just after the game started, I realized I forgot about the chance that VT was going to go into this game with a little too much confidence being the two touchdown favorites that they were. Then, in the middle of the second quarter, I told Candy that I was reminded of a old quote from a Miami player where he said about FSU, "They think they can beat us, but we know we can beat them." Or something like that. I was really picking up on that kind of vibe from the game, but didn't want to get my hopes up.
Then there was the fact that not only has Bobby Bowden beaten Virgina Tech each of the eleven times he has played them as the head coach of Florida State, but he beat them three prior times in a row when he was the head coach at West Virgina. With fourteen straight wins over VT as the head coach of two different teams, I don't think Bobby could have been more confident in his ability to stay calm and figure out a way to beat them. If only he could find a way in the second half to get an edge over Frank Beamer and the Hokies.
It all started with Willie Reid's 83-yard punt return for a touchdown. Then came the interception. Then the penalties against VT. And another touchdown.
In the midst of all this 3rd quarter fury came the best and worst commentators' quotes. First, the worst:
“Bobby Bowden has pushed all his chips into the middle of the field and he is all-in against Frank Beamer.”
Are you kidding me? I looked at Candy and said, "I don't even understand what that means." I'll bet that guy on TV waited all week to use that line to show he's down with the poker craze and he's connecting with the 10+ million weekly poker players in the country.
The best was a little bit later after they showed the VT bench and the commentator on the field said they got real quiet after FSU scored the second touchdown. The next comment was something about how Virginia Tech was looking for the number of the truck that just hit them.
(After that came the most perfect punt ever. Earlier in the year, Penn State downed a punt near the goal line — and that was magnificent — but nothign compares to the grace and style of the move FSU made on a punt in the third quarter. I'm going to try to do some screen captures later this evening so those of you that missed the game can see what I'm talking about.)
So FSU pulled off the upset of the #5 team in the country and is now guaranteed to go to a BCS bowl. And just like that we transform from one poster child into another. Instead of representing everything that's wrong with conference championships, now we get to by the symbol for everything that's wrong with the BCS because we'll be lucky to be ranked anywhere in the top 20 as we head into the Orange Bowl versus... mind you this is not confirmed yet... that's right, just as I feared/predicted/hoped about six weeks ago... PENN STATE!
We'll know for sure 'round about 5 o'clock later this afternoon. So stay tuned.
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