Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Overview: The Seminoles overcame some growing pains on offense with their standout defense led by Everette Brown, arguably the best defensive end in the ACC. FSU was second in the country in tackles for loss and sixth in sacks. Quarterback Christian Ponder was inconsistent, as to be expected for a first-year starting quarterback, and had 13 interceptions to 12 touchdowns for 150.6 passing yards per game. Still, the Seminoles led the ACC in scoring offense behind an offensive line that grew up quickly. They paved the way for one of the program's best running games in years, as the 4.9 yards per carry was the best since 1995, and the 25 rushing touchdowns were the most since 2000.
Several suspensions of wide receivers, coupled with the news of players involved in an altercation near the student union were an off-field distraction that might have contributed to a devastating home loss against Boston College. But safety Myron Rolle countered the negativity when he won a Rhodes Scholarship the same day he flew to College Park to help the Noles win a critical Atlantic Division road game at Maryland.
Offensive MVP: Antone Smith. Smith scored 14 rushing touchdowns, four more this season than he had in his entire career. It was the most touchdowns in a single season since Warrick Dunn had 16 in 1995, and fourth all-time at FSU for single-season rushing touchdowns. He averaged 62.8 yards per game and scored more touchdowns than any other player in the ACC.
Defensive MVP: Everette Brown. He was the only player in the FBS to rank among the top three in tackles for loss and sacks. His 20.5 tackles for loss is the third-highest in a single season in school history. Brown led all ACC defensive linemen in tackles, and finished fourth all-time at FSU with 12.5 sacks in a season. He had three sacks or more in three different ACC games.
Turning point: Ponder put together an 11-play, 70-yard fourth-quarter drive to lead FSU to a 26-17 comeback win over NC State on Oct. 16. It was a deficit in a Thursday night road win that, in the past two seasons, FSU might not have been able to come back from.
What's next: Florida State will face Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl, and Brown, who has already graduated, will have to decide whether he is returning for his senior season. First, though, Brown and FSU's defense will have to contain P.J. Hill, who has rushed for 1,000 yards three years in a row.