FSU is nation's top team; Jameis Winston is nation's top player

CLEMSON, S.C. —  Jameis Winston is the best player in the country.

Florida State is the best team in the country.

I know it, you know it and now the entire nation knows it, too, after watching Winston and the No. 5-ranked Seminoles destroy Clemson 51-14 on this surreal South Carolina Saturday night. That’s right, FSU scored more points in venerable Death Valley than any opponent in history and made Clemson look like Nevada. The Seminoles’ methodical dismantling of the No. 3-ranked team in the country proves to me that not even big, bad Alabama can hang with the Seminoles. The seal-clubbing of Clemson is the singular most impressive victory by any team in the nation this season.

“We definitely are the best team in the country,” FSU wide receiver Rashad Greene said without hesitation. “I don’t put us second to anybody.

“We’re legit,” Winston said with a smile splashed across his face. “Too legit to quit.”

How ironic that on the same day Texas A&M’s Johnny Football exited the Heisman race, Jameis Enthrall not only entered it, he may be on the verge of lapping the field.

Winston, FSU’s captivating and charismatic freshman quarterback, absolutely riddled and ransacked Clemson. He threw for 444 yards and three touchdowns, pulled the plug on Death Valley, dazzled Heisman voters and, most importantly, showed the nation that the Seminoles — if they keep winning —  deserve to play for the national championship. Especially when you consider how high-powered Clemson came into the game averaging 41 points per game, but turned the ball over four times and was held to just 14 points by FSU’s defense.

Remarkably, the Seminoles put together a performance for the ages in what all of the experts called the biggest game in Atlantic Coast  Conference history; a game in which two Top 5 opponents went head-to-head with conference and national title ramifications riding on the outcome.

In the Southeastern Conference, as one SEC snob mockingly tweeted the other day, they have another name for a matchup like this:

It’s called Saturday.

Maybe so, but Florida State-Clemson was a matchup that even the high-and-mighty SEC would have drooled over. Especially when you consider what happened in the SEC Saturday when Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas A&M and LSU all lost.

“I don’t remember an ACC game with this type of national hype,” said Jim Young, the editor of ACCSports.com. “This is why so many ACC fans were terrified when Clemson fell behind Boston College, because they knew the importance of this game, of getting the two teams through undefeated. …The ACC is benefitting from the hype that the SEC usually benefits from.”

It seems only appropriate that FSU-Clemson overshadowed every game played in the SEC Saturday. If ever there were two SEC-esque football programs misplaced in the basketball-bonkers ACC, it is the Tigers and Seminoles.

Philosophically and geographically, both Clemson and Florida State are clearly more like SEC schools than ACC schools. Football is their pride and passion. Their three favorite sports are football, spring football and football recruiting. They adhere to that fanatical SEC philosophy: “College football is not a matter of life and death; it is much more important than that!”

Like SEC venues, the stadiums at FSU and Clemson are big, loud and proud just as Death Valley was Saturday night when Tiger fans attempted to set the Guinness Book of World Records mark for decibel level in a football stadium. Unfortunately for Clemson, all Death Valley did was breathe life into Winston’s Heisman campaign and show the country how much better FSU is than the rest of the ACC. In FSU’s two games against ranked ACC opponents this year — Clemson and Maryland — the Seminoles have won by a combined score of 114-14.

 It was an insult to Coach Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles that all of the national preseason publications picked Clemson to win the ACC this year. The Seminoles won the title last season and they will win the title this season. And they will win it next season and the season after that, too. Fisher has FSU poised to dominate the ACC for years to come, much like Bobby Bowden did during his 1990s heyday.

It's no secret that Fisher is a Nick Saban disciple who built his program at FSU in the Saban mold — with discipline, defense and downhill running. Except now he has an incredible  quarterback who has turned FSU from merely dominant to magically dynamic.

“I like this team,” Fisher said.”We haven’t done anything or won anything yet, but I like this team. … If we keep taking care of our business, we’ll get there.”

They are well on their way to to getting there; all the way to Pasadena for the BCS Championship Game.

Florida State is the best team in the country.

Jameis Winston is the best player in the country.

If you don’t believe me, ask the Clemson Tigers.

Or what’s left of them.

mbianchi@tribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @BianchiWrites. Listen to his radio show every weekday from 6 to 9 a.m. on 740 AM.





Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
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