FSU is the best team in the country, dominating Miami with its B-game

FSU quarterback Jameis Winston's postgame remarks after the Seminole defeated Miami 41-14 in Tallahassee.

TALLAHASSEE — All the pre-game buildup for Saturday night's Sunshine State showdown between undefeated and No. 3-ranked Florida State and undefeated and No. 7-ranked Miami focused on the fact that the rivalry between the Seminoles and Hurricanes is back.

This, of course, is only half true.

Florida State is definitely back.

Miami is only in back of FSU.

Light years in back of FSU.

The Hurricanes are a pretty good team. The Seminoles, for my money, are the best team in the country.

Here's all you need to know about how dominant the Seminoles truly are in the wake of Saturday's 41-14 blowout of the 'Canes: Jameis Winston, FSU's fabulous freshman quarterback, had one of his shakiest performances and the Seminoles still won by nearly four touchdowns. Famous Jameis threw a couple of infamously bad interceptions that led to two Miami touchdowns and kept the 'Canes close in the first half. But the Seminoles are so explosive, they can still rout good teams while playing their B-game.

Winston is such a confident leader, he was unfazed by the two first-half picks that allowed Miami to trail by only a touchdown – 21-14 – at halftime. In fact, he was so sure of himself, he went into the defensive meeting area at halftime and made a guarantee to his defensive teammates. In Tebow-esque fashion, Jameis gave his own promise speech.

"I went over to our defense and said, 'I promise you I'm not turning the ball over any more in this game,' " Winston said. "If we don't turn the ball over and make mistakes, Miami can't stay on the field with us. The only reason Miami scored was because of our turnovers. … When I told them I wasn't going to turn over the ball again, I think they knew I meant business."

Not only did he keep his promise and not commit any more turnovers, he threw only two incompletions in the entire second half. FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, after fielding a plethora of questions about Winston's "subpar" perfornance, looked at the stat sheet as he walked out of his postgame news conference and recited Winston's numbers.

"Yeah, he was bad -- 21-of-29 for 325 yards." Jimbo said, laughed and shook his head.

Sadly, you wonder if this victory over Miami was enough to impress the voters in the final season of the inane BCS BC-Mess How ludicrous is it that the Seminoles can blow out the No. 7 team in the country and outgain them 517 to 275 -- and it still might not help them all that much in their quest to jump Oregon for the No. 2 spot in the BCS rankings.

In three games against ranked ACC opponents this year – Maryland, Clemson and Miami – the Seminoles have won by a combined score of 155-28. It's no wonder FSU fans chanted, "We want 'Bama!" as the Seminoles left the field Saturday night.

Of course, there will be plenty of time in the weeks ahead to debate who gets to play for the national championship; what couldn't be argued Saturday night is that the Florida State-Miami series has regained its mojo. And it's about time.

Or, as the great Bobby Bowden might say, it's about dad-gum time.

If ACC Commissioner John Swofford were honest that's exactly what he would have said before Saturday night's Sunshine State sizzler. Swofford, though, was much more diplomatic when asked by an Associated Press reporter what it means to have FSU and UM playing a monumental game with national championship implications.

"Any time those two teams play it's one of the great rivalries in college football," Swofford replied. "It's good to see it back to what it was for so many years, where so many of those games decided national championships. It's really good for those two programs, but also for our entire league for that once again to be the case."

For way too long, these programs haven't carried their weight, which is the main reason why the ACC became the laughingstock of big-time college football over the last decade. Since the league expanded to add Miami 10 years ago, the Hurricanes and Seminoles have been the biggest disappointment along Tobacco Road since cigarette ads were banned from network TV.

When Miami joined the ACC in 2004, the expectation was that the Hurricanes and Seminoles would elevate the ACC into a conference that would compete with the rival SEC for national dominance. Miami and FSU were supposed to carry the torch for the ACC, but instead they carried just a stick with no flame.

Between 1987 and 2004, Florida State and Miami met as Top 10 teams 12 times, including seven in a row during one dynastic stretch. The two programs combined to win six national titles during that juncture and incredibly played for six others.

Swofford's grand vision was to put Miami and FSU in separate divisions, play the ACC Championship Game in the State of Florida and have the two state rivals and national powerhouses annually face off in front of packed houses and a humongous national TV audience. But since 2004, FSU has played in two and Miami just one BCS game. Miami has won zero conference titles. Florida State has won two. As a result, the attendance at the ACC Championship Game in Jacksonville and then Tampa became so embarrassing that the league moved the game out of Florida and into Charlotte.

This is why Saturday's mega-game was so symbolic. Because after all the dark, dreary times, this rivalry was once again in the simmering, shimmering spotlight of national primetime TV.

Florida State-Miami was finally back.

Well, sort of.

Florida State is definitely back.

Miami is in back of FSU.

Light years in back of FSU.

Then again, isn't just about everybody?

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

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