In review: Winston-led FSU's dominance shuts Tigers out of Charlotte

Florida State's Jameis Winston closes his eyes during stretching, before the Clemson game, at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Florida State's Jameis Winston closes his eyes during stretching, before the Clemson game, at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C.

Over four months since the ACC Kickoff, here we are again weeks away from the next Clemson football game.

Back in July, we predicted the ACC order, All-ACC teams and the key storylines. In review...

Atlantic (Finish)

1. Clemson (2)

2. Florida State (1)

3. N.C. State (7)

4. Syracuse (3)

5. Boston College (4)

6. Wake Forest (6)

7. Maryland (5)

Coastal (Finish)

1. Virginia Tech (2)

2. Miami (3)

3. North Carolina (5)

4. Virginia (7)

5. Georgia Tech (4)

6. Duke (1)

7. Pittsburgh (6)

Champion (Actual) Clemson (FSU/Duke)

ACC Player of the Year (Actual) Tajh Boyd (FSU's Jameis Winston)

2013 Preseason All-ACC Team (Actual)

Offense

QB- Tajh Boyd (Winston)

RB- Duke Johnson (Williams, BC)

RB- Kevin Parks (Freeman, FSU)

WR Sammy Watkins (Clemson)

WR Stefon Diggs (Crowder, Duke)

OT- Brandon Thomas (Erving, FSU)

OT- James Hurst (UNC)

OG- Brandon Linder (Jackson, FSU)

OG- Josue Matias (Mason, GT)

C- Jay Finch (Stork, FSU)

TE- Eric Ebron (UNC)

K- Chandler Catanzaro (Freese, BC)

Spec.- Stefon Diggs (Switzer, UNC)

Defense

DE- Vic Beasley (Clemson)

DE- James Gayle (Martin, UNC)

DT- Aaron Donald (Pitt)

DT- Derrick Hopkins (Whitlock, WF)

LB- Christian Jones (Brown, Duke)

LB- Telvin Smith (Perryman, Miami)

LB- Dyshawn Davis (Pierre-Louis, BC)

CB- Antone Exum (Joyner, FSU)

CB- Ross Cockrell (Duke)

S- Tre Boston (Harris, UVa)

S- Jason Hendricks (Cash, Duke)

P- Tommy Hibbard (O'Donnell, Miami)

1. Tigers’ target on their back: "The preseason hype machine really kicks up here. By Monday, Clemson will likely be crowned ACC favorites, by a wide margin, and Tajh Boyd will be anointed ACC Preseason Player of the Year. Both as a team and individually, they will look to shake some bad luck that’s come with the favorite status. Of course, Clemson was last picked to win the ACC in 2008…and then finished third in the Atlantic Division with a new coach by the end of the year (Swinney). Overall, the Tigers have won the conference 67 percent of the time (4-2) when tabbed as the favorite by the media. Individually, Boyd hopes to be the first player since 2007 to win both the pre-and-postseason ACC player of the year honors (Matt Ryan, Boston College). He will also be sure to shoulder a good amount of Heisman talk as well – despite no official campaign being underway yet. Odds-on, at least three more Tigers will join him as preseason All-ACC, including receiver Sammy Watkins, tackle Brandon Thomas and kicker Chandler Catanzaro."

Going into the season, Florida State was the game Clemson couldn't lose, and taking place in a place that the 'Noles hadn't won in since 2001, that didn't seem likely preseason. However, no one expected the juggernaut that Jimbo Fisher put on the field this season, and from play one, the difference in talent level was evident back on Oct. 19. The Tigers crushed the rest of their conference slate by 20 points a game, but none of those opponents came close to a top-25 ranking to close the season.

If not for Winston, Boyd would have been first-team All-ACC at quarterback for a third consecutive season, but BC's Andre Williams would have certainly taken player of the year honors.

2. But what about FSU?: "Much like Clemson last year, the reigning ACC champs are actually flying under the radar and the “disrespect” card is sure to be played here. The Seminoles face restocking their entire d-line and nine starters overall. Highly-rated redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston has been tabbed by the experts as a Johnny Manziel-esque instant-impact player and he has some weapons to work with and a veteran offensive line (113 career starts). The Atlantic is likely to come down to the Clemson-FSU matchup again, which is in TigerTown on Oct. 19."

What more can you say about Jameis Winston? Coolly leading a national title contender, 3,624 total yards in only 384 plays (9.4 per) and 38 touchdowns to eight picks. He basically has 15 games between him and a lot of money.

No one really came close to beating Florida State in conference play, averaging a 39.2 margin of victory. Oddly enough, 7-5 Boston College kept it the closest in ACC losses for both FSU (14) and Clemson (10).

Fun stat (not so fun for 'Noles opponents) - FSU freshman kicker Roberto Aguayo outscored opposing teams 137-132 this season.

3. Welcome to the ACC: "The Syracuse Orange and Pittsburgh Panthers officially joined the conference on July 1, but this is the real welcoming party before the tribunal of ACC media. With second-year coach Paul Chryst, the Panthers figure to be picked towards the bottom of the Coastal Division with only five returning starters on offense, but they do bring back key cogs on defense from a group which finished 17th nationally in total defense last season. Joining the Tigers in the Atlantic is Syracuse, which sports a new coach (Scott Shafer) and faces replacing its school record holder in passing yards both career (9,190) and single-season (3,749), Ryan Nassib. Clemson will welcome them to the ACC come Oct. 5 for their conference opener in the Carrier Dome, looking to light up a defense losing its top-two tacklers and five starters. Confidence is high in their camp though coming off a 8-5 campaign – linebacker Dyshawn Davis already on record saying the Orange will 'shock the world' in their conference debut."

Three spots above the media pick is a little shocking, no? Syracuse was picked sixth in the Atlantic and finished third, knocking off Boston College to become the ACC's 11th bowl eligible team. The season had its rough patches with three losses of 35 or more in ACC play, but they also won two road games and held three teams to three or less points. They will return their quarterback, top receiver and some pieces on defense next season.

Pittsburgh finished below expectations (sixth instead of fifth), but were able to wrap up a bowl bid versus the Orange. They will feature a new QB, but return their top rusher and receiver next season.

4. Is there a Coastal favorite?: "I’m not sure there is. Monday’s ACC media poll will be an interesting exercise with a muddled group at the top of Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Miami. No team other than the two Techs have won the division since its inception, but UNC would have gone to the ACC Championship Game last year if not for a postseason ban (NCAA violations). Coming off two-straight years with postseason bans, Miami has an ACC-leading 20 returning starters and 55 letterman. They also host the Hokies and the Yellow Jackets, which makes them enticing. Virginia Tech will challenge with nine returners on defense and a forgiving schedule outside of trips to Georgia Tech and Miami. Chances are this division goes to the very last week."

And it did, with picked-last Duke beating UNC in Chapel Hill for a school-record 10th win and the Coastal crown. They finished on an eight-game winning streak, having the fortune of neither Clemson or FSU on the schedule this season (after playing both last year and still making their first bowl since 1994). What a job David Cutcliffe has done and watching videos like this one - it's really no surprise.

5. Next step for the ACC: "Maryland is out the door, after this season, but will they be leaving their $50 million exit fee in Greensboro? It’s a lawsuit that holds some of the conference’s newfound stability a bit in question, but the grant of media rights surrendered by the schools through 2026-27 definitely helps. How close are we to an ACC-centric television network? What’s up with the new conference bowl schedule (coming 2014-19)? What influence will the ACC have on the four-team playoff committee for next season? Conference commissioner John Swofford will get his chance to put his frame on the topics driving the future of the ACC."

The Maryland lawsuit is still very much in play, but the Terps weren't able to throw it out in a N.C. court. There's still another case to be held in a Maryland court.

ACC Network still seems some years off.

That ACC playoff influence? Why none other than Clemson AD Dan Radakovich.

Overall, the conference took a step forward with a national title contender and what's looking like second time in three years with two BCS bids. That's not to mention an ACC record 11 bowl teams. And the competition will only get stiffer with Louisville entering the Atlantic next season.

© 2013 OrangeAndWhite.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 4

KIMOSAMI writes:

What more can you say about Jameis Winston?

Go to AJC.com and look at laughter surrounding/during press conference at which Winston was given a pass for what a young woman reported was a rape right after it happened but not reported by the POlice until a year later.
They said she was drunk. She was proven not to be.
They 'sort of' denied it was him. She had reported a different sized person(they say). His DNA was discovered after he was forced to submit to testing. ......then they said it was consentual. Not so, she said. She reported it real time and stands by her story.

Rape is horrible. Rape is detestible. It is not to be discussed in a yuk-fest like the laughing boy Winston's supporters and the amused prosecutor did.

Even some of the press were disgusted at the nauseating event.

BrandonRink writes:

in response to KIMOSAMI:

What more can you say about Jameis Winston?

Go to AJC.com and look at laughter surrounding/during press conference at which Winston was given a pass for what a young woman reported was a rape right after it happened but not reported by the POlice until a year later.
They said she was drunk. She was proven not to be.
They 'sort of' denied it was him. She had reported a different sized person(they say). His DNA was discovered after he was forced to submit to testing. ......then they said it was consentual. Not so, she said. She reported it real time and stands by her story.

Rape is horrible. Rape is detestible. It is not to be discussed in a yuk-fest like the laughing boy Winston's supporters and the amused prosecutor did.

Even some of the press were disgusted at the nauseating event.

Obviously I'm just talking about football above.

Yeah the press conference was pretty bad, but it's consistent with the circus that's been how that case was handled by the folks involved.

tigerrob44 writes:

States Attorney Meggs is a FSU undergraduate and law school graduate. What a nut for not recusing himself from this. The Justice Department should investigate this because I think he is guilty and didn't think that way until yesterday. If you are so blind not to see that a cover up could easily be going on then you need a seeing eye dog. There may not be a cover up but it sure looks fishy due to the DA's close ties to FSU. All he had to do was recuse himself and let the investigation go on with an impartial investigator. Meggs is anything but impartial and you got serious issues with reality if don't see this was fixed.

KIMOSAMI writes:

in response to BrandonRink:

Obviously I'm just talking about football above.

Yeah the press conference was pretty bad, but it's consistent with the circus that's been how that case was handled by the folks involved.

I know, Brandon. And...sorry for sullying up your very good column. It's just that it's very frustrating that there is no reportage of this story under the carpet that it's been swept under.

It's frustrating that:

The girl reported a RAPE by unknown, to her, assailant(s).

Winston was an unknown commodity at the time. She...nor anyone else...knew who or what he was.

She had nothing to gain by reporting that she had been raped. Nothing......and obviously, now, a lot to lose.
She submitted to a rape kit/exam. Real time.

Winston refused to cooperate.

The POlice DIDN'T EVEN TELL THE DA FOR A YEAR.

The POlice told the girl to forget it. She was told her life would be a living hexx.
They put the case folder in the file cabinet and forgot about the violation of the girl that had occured.

When the case resurfaced(not sure how) a couple months ago, the POlice said she had dropped the case. She adamantly refutes this.

Winston's attorney said it wasn't Winston....she portrayed her RAPIST as another sized man.

Then, when DNA proves at least one of her assailants WAS Winston, the attorney said it was consentual sex.
(Was the other sized man the other DNA that was present on the girl?) An investigation probably would have shed light on this.....and produced talk by all involved.

The DA gets the case a couple weeks ago and rushes to tell all in a cheerful, yuk filled news conference that laughing boy Winston would not be charged.....no evidence.

The announcement was made by the uber liberal Willie Meggs in plenty of time for the Heisman voters to vote for Winston.

Whew!!!
After all....we know what's really important.

Meanwhile, the violated girl, and her grief-stricken family are left at home wondering how our world got so twisted that an investigation could not be conducted...at the very least....because it would jeapardize a G.D. trophy campaign.

Frustrated?? .....Dam right.

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