National Whiparound: UNC Spoils FSU’s Title Chances

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North Carolina’s upset of Florida State stands as one of the biggest surprises in a Week 5 full of shocking moments around college football.

The Seminoles entered their ACC date double-digit favorites, but fell on a last-second field goal from a mile out, 37-35.

FSU dug itself into a 21-0 hole in the second quarter before rallying to tie the game at 28-28 in the fourth. After UNC kicker Nick Weiler missed a PAT with 2:31 remaining, the Seminoles answered with a 75-yard scoring drive.

But Weiler redeemed himself by making a game winning 54-yard field goal as time expired to pull off the upset. Here’s a closer look at the loss and why it’s crucial for Florida State.

FIRST DOWN

NO MORE CFB PLAYOFF

Okay, so FSU’s College Football Playoff chances were already slim after dropping a 63-20 loss to Louisville in Week 3, but there was at least still some hope. The chips could have fallen in the Seminoles’ favor, especially after Clemson defeated the Cardinals, 42-36, on Saturday.

But it doesn’t look like a two-loss ACC team will be able to earn a CFB Playoff spot, especially with multiple undefeated Power 5 teams remaining. Few predicted the Seminoles would have two losses before their game against Clemson.

At best, FSU can play spoiler to the Tigers’ potentially perfect season. Fresh off a bye week, the Seminoles host the defending ACC champion Tigers Oct. 29.

SECOND DOWN

DEFENSE REALLY MISSES DERWIN JAMES

Speaking of preseason hype, FSU’s current defense was credited by Bleacher Report as potentially being its best in school history. That turned out to be a bit of a reach even before losing its best player, safety Derwin James, prior to the loss at Louisville in Week 3.

But the Noles have been especially bad in James’ absence. On Saturday, UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns on 31 of 38 passing. The Seminoles have dropped to No. 13 in scoring defense (35.4 points per game) and No. 11 in total defense (438.4) among ACC teams since losing the former five-star prospect.

FSU could continue to struggle in James’ absence during next week’s matchup against an improved Miami team, which ranks second among ACC teams in scoring offense (47.0 points per game).

THIRD DOWN

DALVIN COOK IS STILL REALLY GOOD

You can’t blame running back Dalvin Cook for FSU’s loss Saturday. The junior rushed for a season-best three touchdowns and 140 yards on 29 carries.

Granted, it came against a UNC defense that ranks last among ACC teams in rushing defense. But that shouldn’t discredit the preseason Heisman nominee from stepping up in a close game.

Cook provided three scores of the four touchdowns that erased a 21-0 deficit between the second and fourth quarters. Without him, the Noles would’ve been blown out, rather than losing on a 54-yard field goal as time expired.

And perhaps all of the pessimism surrounding Cook was premature. It may have taken him a few games, but the junior is within striking distance of Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson for the ACC’s highest rushing total.

However, the Heisman seems out of reach with FSU playing so underwhelming in 2016, along with how much better Jackson has played than any other player in the country.

FOURTH DOWN

NICK WEILER COMES THROUGH IN THE CLUTCH

Speaking of which, let’s acknowledge Weiler as the hero in Saturday’s game. The senior avenged a missed 51-yard attempt in the third quarter and a would-be game tying PAT in the fourth by making a 54-yarder in the game’s final seconds.

You can’t ask for more out of your kicker than that.

“I knew it was withing his distance — that wasn’t the issue. He was due, and he had something prove…after the extra point got blocked,” head coach Larry Fedora said in his post-game press conference.