They were trendy national championship picks for a reason. They had the talent, the coaching, and the schedule. But there were also reasons they lost to NC State — a team who fired their coach and subsequently took NIU's. Because once in a while, Florida State wouldn't show up for a game. This can apply to any number of 20-year-old college students, but Florida State's reputation on this was greater than most. Of course, as the history scrolls indicate, Florida State showed up for the Orange Bowl and finally left their mark in the fourth quarter — the critical quarter in a David vs. Goliath matchup.
You may also remember that Kent State was a play or two away from getting the Orange Bowl to themselves. No, I don't think KSU would've had much of a chance either, having seen that ACC champion play. But what we prided ourselves in the MAC was the depth at the top of the conference. So many great teams, and while they had a losing bowl record, they did mount some AQ trophies on their wall.
So for the sake of morbid curiosity, I dusted off our old friend WhatIfSports and just simulated Florida State against every MAC team on a neutral site. One game each, none of this "keep simming until you see what you like" business:
Florida State 51, Akron 0
Tons of passing yards for the Zips, as expected (342), but Dalton Williams was picked off three times.
Florida State 57, UMass 3
The Minutemen got just 130 total yards, minus-four rushing yards and eight first downs. But points.
Florida State 50, Eastern Michigan 10
Florida State 51, Buffalo 0
UB tallied just 165 total yards of offense and allowed 562 to the Seminoles. They had one play go longer than 15 yards, and it was 37-0 by halftime.
Florida State 45, Western Michigan 6
In this case they used Tyler Van Tubbergen at quarterback, and he got 275 yards of passing yards but was picked off twice. Their points came on field goals.
Florida State 55, Miami (OH) 14
Zac Dysert's numbers turned out pretty good: 23-for-39, 278 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The Seminoles rolled up 385 rushing yards and were only up 17-7 at halftime.
Florida State 38, Central Michigan 17
A 21-point loss? Well, that's what NIU did, and CMU had it as close as 28-17 at the end of the third quarter. Zurlon Tipton hit the 100-yard rushing mark and Ryan Radcliff passed for 250 yards. But he was sacked (gulp) six times.
Florida State 41, Ball State 10
The Cardinals didn't score until the third quarter, when they were already down 24-0, and Florida State ran for four touchdowns.
Florida State 30, Bowling Green 10
I'm just picturing myself watching this pretend game and pulling out my teeth at halftime. BGSU was down just 13-0 heading into the locker room. Anthon Samuel ran for 131 yards and somehow Matt Schilz got 200 yards, but again the Seminoles laid down the hammer in the second half, running it up on the BGSU defense.
Florida State 59, Toledo 9
Well, youch. Terrance Owens completed just 10 of 28 passes and the Rockets had to settle for three field goals.
Florida State 38, Ohio 17
It took *this* long to find a simulated game when a MAC team had a lead. Ohio scored first on a Ryan Boykin touchdown, lost the lead, tied it back up with a field goal in the second quarter, and then got crushed. Tyler Tettleton was just 6-of-16 for 85 yards. Oof.
Florida State 34, Kent State 13
I know what you're curious about: the Dri Archer line: 14 touches, 113 yards and a rushing touchdown. His speed would've been enough to out-run the Seminoles defense, but they'd have bottled him up like homemade preservatives. Trayion Durham also eclipsed the 100-yard mark rushing and the KSU defense got four sacks (!). But they had trouble stopping the pass and this game looked a lot like the Actual Orange Bowl; they hung around but never really had a shot.
And for giggles, I decided to give NIU one more shot:
Florida State 20, Northern Illinois 0
Yes, this team was better than every other MAC squad, by far. And just to throw out a reference point on Florida State, I simulated some other select BCS hypothetical games:
Florida State 36, Texas A&M 23
Florida State 30, Louisville 6
Florida State 30, Wisconsin 6
Florida State 47, Notre Dame 3 (!!)
Florida State 24, Alabama 21
How in the hell, NC State. How. In. The. Hell.