Florida State is 0-2 for the first time since 1989. It's a jarring stat for a program with such high expectations every season. Coming into the 2017 season, many pundits had the Noles pegged to win the ACC and possibly even a national title, or at the very least, earn a playoff berth.
Instead, Florida State's national title hopes are dead before October for the second straight season.
This year, it was losses to Alabama and NC State that drove a spear through the heart of Florida State's title hopes, taking it from No. 3 in the preseason AP Poll to not ranked at all less than a month later.
Last season, it was a humiliating 63-20 loss on the road against Louisville and a last-second 35-33 loss to North Carolina two weeks later that dropped the Noles to 3-2 and put an end to any national title hopes.
Some will say that this start to the 2017 season is a result of factors outside of Florida State's control. This is a team that had to cancel one game and postpone another because of the effects of Hurricane Irma, leaving the team with three weeks off between games. While I would never doubt that the lives of players and coaches were thrown into upheaval by the hurricane, the idea it was a major factor in Florida State's defeat against NC State loses steam when you realize UCF dealt with a longer gap between games (24 days to 21) yet managed to go on the road and beat Maryland 38-10 on Saturday.
Others will say that it was the injury to Deondre Francois in the opener against Alabama that is killing this team right now. Again, I'm not going to underestimate the loss of your starting quarterback on any football team, but one could also argue that if you are going to break in a new quarterback, having three weeks to do so between games might be a benefit. Besides, in his first college start, James Blackman completed 22-of-38 passes for 278 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. Blackman may not have been a savior, but he certainly wasn't the problem.
There is just a lot going wrong for Florida State through two games, and it's hard to pin the blame for the struggles on one area.
There's the offensive line which has allowed seven sacks through two games and let both Francois and Blackman take plenty of other hits as well. The 3.5 sacks allowed per game is the worst in the ACC and ranks 122nd nationally.
Pass-blocking isn't the only problem this offensive line has had, either.
Through two games, Florida State's rushing offense is averaging 2.72 yards per carry. That's also last in the ACC and ranks 125th out of 130 FBS teams. The Noles don't even have a rushing touchdown yet.
This inability to run the ball also helps explain why Florida State has managed to score only two touchdowns in eight red zone possessions thus far, including one touchdown in six trips against NC State on Saturday.
You don't win games with field goals. Not even in the Big Ten!
The red zone struggles explain why, through 120 minutes of game action, Florida State has held the lead for two minutes and 13 seconds. Those 133 seconds came when the Noles had a 7-3 lead on Alabama, a lead that was wiped away with 11:28 remaining in the first half of the season opener, meaning it has now been 101 minutes and 28 seconds of game time since Florida State held the lead.
Now, obviously, some of this can be attributed to Florida State's opponents. There aren't a lot of teams that will score a bunch of points and rack up yardage against a defense like Alabama's, or a front like NC State's.
But what about the Florida State defense?
On the whole, it's hard to be angry with the Seminoles defense, as it's done its best to keep the team in both games, despite the struggles on offense. Still, through two games, it has yet to force a single turnover.
As a result, the unit had trouble getting off the field against NC State. The Wolfpack converted on only 5-of-12 third downs -- not great, but not bad for the Noles -- but all five of those conversions came on plays where NC State was facing a third-and-six or longer. Also, after falling behind 10-0 early, Florida State managed to get on the board with a touchdown pass to Auden Tate to cut the lead to 10-7. This was a chance to put an end to NC State's start and claim control of the game. Instead, Florida State couldn't manage to force a three-and-out on any of the next five possessions, and seemingly had their spirit broken following a 71-yard touchdown pass to Jakobi Meyers with less than two minutes remaining in the first half.
All of this is concerning, but there's one more stat that I find to be the most troubling of all. One that isn't limited to this 2017 version of Florida State, or even just the 2016 team.
In two seasons with Jameis Winston at quarterback, the Seminoles went 16-0 in the ACC, won a national title, two ACC titles and were chosen for the College Football Playoff. In 17 conference games since then, the Seminoles are a pedestrian 11-6. For a team that has as much talent as Florida State does, that just isn't acceptable, no matter the excuse presented.
Now, as depressing or concerning as all of this may seem, it's not like there isn't a possible light at the end of the tunnel for Florida State in 2017. After all, following the 3-2 start last season, the Noles managed to win seven of their last eight games, going 10-3 and beating Michigan in the Orange Bowl.
And back in 1989, the last time Florida State began a season 0-2, it won its final 10 games, beating Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl to finish 10-2 and ranked No. 3 in the country.
Also, while its 0-1 in the ACC right now, the Seminoles still have divisional games against Louisville and Clemson where it can win the Atlantic and the ACC.
But we already know it won't be playing for a national title in 2017, and for many Florida State fans, learning that truth before the calendar flips to October is a tough pill to swallow.
Saquon Barkley of the Week
I already wrote about Penn State running back Saquon Barkley being some kind of super-human following Penn State's win against Iowa on Saturday night, but I need to post this gif again because it's just hypnotic to watch.
Saquon Barkley is just not fair. pic.twitter.com/kctEK2EBpg— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) September 24, 2017
Also, somebody tell Iowa's Amani Hooker that's why coaches preach hit-and-wrap, not just hit. You aren't a train, and a train is the only thing taking Saquon Barkley out like that.
Fan of the Week
Oh ok pic.twitter.com/6BHtljVuWl— David Ruff (@dcarterruff) September 23, 2017
I don't know whether to be terrified or fall in love, so I'll just do both.
Also, I hope she was placed in the concussion protocol after this.
Pitt-Murdering Coach of the Week
I don't know why coaches have suddenly found the need to absolutely drag Pittsburgh after beating it lately, but it's becoming a trend.
You might remember a few weeks ago when Penn State's James Franklin said "I know last year beating us for [Pitt] was like the Super Bowl. This was just like beating Akron for us," following Penn State's 33-14 win over the Panthers. Well, on Saturday, Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson got in on the act following a 35-17 win over Pat Narduzzi's team.
Paul Johnson: turnovers have to be cleaned up "because against a good team, we won't be able to survive."— Ken Sugiura (@ksugiuraajc) September 23, 2017
Is Pat Narduzzi going around talking about other coaches' mothers or something? Goodness.
Random Ranking of the Week
Let's rank the best kinds of pie (standard edition).
3. French Silk
4. Key Lime
Hair of the Week
OK, so Oklahoma State lost to TCU on Saturday, putting a temporary halt to all of that Oklahoma State-playoff contention talk, but Mike Gundy's hair stays winning.
it's perfect #FootballGuypic.twitter.com/XFnLM30a6B— Pardon My Take (@PardonMyTake) September 23, 2017
Fly Swatting of the Week
Vanderbilt offensive lineman Bailey Granier is listed at 6-foot-6 and 316 pounds. Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans checks in at 6-foot-3 and 234 pounds. Let's see how their encounter went on Saturday.
We got LBs outchea chokeslamming Vandy offensive linemen. I tried to tell y'all that y'all didn't want Bama pic.twitter.com/FRlbKYTv0m— Bam (@BigBam3) September 23, 2017
That one moment summarizes the entirety of Alabama's 59-0 win.
Stat of the Week
Speaking of Alabama, here's a stat for you.
Alabama has now won 18 consecutive against SEC opponents by an average of 23.1 points.— George Schroeder (@GeorgeSchroeder) September 24, 2017
The SEC: It just means more wins for Alabama.
Dancing Coach of the Week
Notre Dame won its second straight game on Saturday night, and that means coach Brian Kelly isn't getting mad at reporters these days. And when Brian Kelly isn't getting mad, it means he can only be doing one thing.
OMG LOOK AT BRIAN KELLY pic.twitter.com/Yo1U03cv5c— Jack Jorgensen (@JackJorgensen14) September 24, 2017
College Football Playoff Projection of the Week
Until the next Monday After!