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FSU can remove much of the disappointment with Orange victory

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It says a great many things about the FSU program that this will be remembered as a season of underachievement.

After all, the Seminoles are ranked 10th in the country. They have a shot at 10 wins. Dalvin Cook was eighth in the country in rushing. Demarcus Walker was tied for second in sacks. Tarvarus McFadden was tied for first in interceptions.

Still, for a team that has won a national title and been in the playoffs in recent seasons, this wasn’t quite acceptable. The ‘Noles lost to Louisville, badly, and dropped games to North Carolina and to Clemson. They won four in a row at the end of the season, but by then, much of the stretch run the team anticipated had disappeared.

That’s why tonight’s Orange Bowl game against Michigan has a hint of relevancy. The Wolverines are rated No. 6 in the nation, and only a double-overtime loss to Ohio State kept them out of the playoffs.

The game itself is intriguing in its matchups. Cook will go against the nation’s second-ranked defense, featuring Jabrill Peppers. Jimbo Fisher and Jim Harbaugh are both alpha coaches.

A clue as to how tonight might go? Think about the red zone. FSU leads the nation, scoring on 52 of 54 trips (42 touchdowns). On the side, Michigan is the nation’s second-best red zone defense, allowing only 68 percent of scores.

There aren’t many teams that can justify disappointment to a top 10 finish with 10 wins. FSU is one of them.

If FSU can take advantage of a Michigan defense that has struggled recently against the run, it will take much of the stain off of their season. Not all of it – the program’s standards to too high – but some. It’s been a long time since the loss to Clemson, and the thoughts of next season — when quarterback Deondre Francois returns — are cheery. This could be remembered not as a season of underachievement, but one of building.

Game time is 8 p.m. in Miami.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit [email protected]

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