Sunday December 7th, 2014

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- When Georgia Tech marched 75 yards in 11 plays to take a 21-14 lead early in the second quarter, the old thought came to mind: Is Florida State finally going to lose? 

Nope. Everyone should know by now better than to doubt the Seminoles.

Florida State got its offense going in the second half and held off a late Yellow Jackets' rally to win 37-35. The 'Noles captured the ACC title and stayed perfect, likely securing one of the four coveted spots in the College Football Playoff. 

Here are three quick thoughts from Saturday night’s ACC championship.

ELLIS: Alabama dominates Missouri en route to another SEC title

1. This was the Jameis Winston we expected to see all season

When the moment dictated it this fall, Winston raised his game. But when he wasn’t mounting improbable comebacks, last year’s Heisman Trophy winner was ordinary. He made too many mistakes, forced some throws and endured several tipped passes that should’ve been caught. That all added up to 17 interceptions in the regular season, including four costly turnovers in a 24-19 victory over Florida.

Everything changed against the Yellow Jackets. Winston played arguably his most complete game of the season and by far his best since the Syracuse game on Oct. 11. The redshirt sophomore was calm, trusting his offensive line to create a pocket and comfortably executing his short- to mid-range throws. 

Winston went 21-of-30 passing for 309 yards with three touchdowns. More important, he had no interceptions for the first time since facing Syracuse.

It was always clear Winston had the ability to play this type of game, it was more a question of when -- not if -- he would put it together. On the eve of the final playoff rankings, he delivered.

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2. There is nothing gimmicky about Georgia Tech’s offense

It must make Paul Johnson laugh at this point. After all these years at Georgia Tech, people still ask him about those who doubt his offense.

“The other adage that you got was they’ll catch up with it once they play it once or twice,” Johnson said on Friday. “They know how to line up. This was our seventh year in the league, and to lead the league in scoring and total offense and rushing offense and lead the nation in third down, they hadn't caught up yet.”

Johnson’s offense rushed for 331 yards against the 'Noles on Saturday. It had five touchdown drives of 70 yards or longer. The offense works. And Johnson has the athletes to make it work against anyone, whether it’s an SEC foe or the defending national champs. The defense just didn’t do enough to take down Florida State.

3. The ‘Noles did exactly what they needed to do

During his press conference on Friday, Fisher was asked about his team dropping to No. 4 in the rankings heading into Championship Saturday. 

“I can't control what other people think,” Fisher said. “All I can control is how we play and what we do and we just keep putting Ws on the board. If we keep handling our business, everything will work it out. I don't spend time or waste time worrying about opinions.”

The Seminoles handled their business against Georgia Tech, and now it’s time to wait. Inexplicably, there was some chatter that Florida State may miss the playoff entirely. But it served as a chance to stir up an easily excitable fan base. By finishing undefeated, the 'Noles should be in. They haven’t lost in 29 straight games, and they didn’t lose this fall despite playing nine bowl-eligible teams. 

Florida State has earned its shot. 

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