The victories have been dismissed. The opponents, too.
But going on a long winning streak is just not easy to do.
Whatever you believe about Florida State and how the Seminoles have arrived at 29 straight wins, stop for a moment for a little perspective. Because these players are a part of college football history, tied with Miami (1990-92) and Michigan (1901-03) for No. 13 on the all-time longest streaks list.
Of the 15 teams that have won 29 or more straight games, only eight played after World War II; only six after 1960; only three since 2000.
“It’s impressive, obviously,” said North Texas assistant Kevin Patrick, who was on the Miami teams that won 29 straight. “It’s something the more years that go by, the more impressed I even become with it. It’s such a high mark, especially back in the state of Florida. ... You go to school with so many people that are so familiar with the schools, it gives you a lot of bragging rights.”
The Florida State and Miami winning streaks bear similarities, beyond sharing the same home state. Miami won a national championship in the middle of its streak, the way Florida State did a season ago. Miami played eight games decided by a touchdown or less; Florida State has played nine (albeit seven have happened in 2014); Miami played 10 teams that were ranked at the time they played; Florida State nine.
Where there is slight separation is the opposition they played. Miami faced 12 bowl teams; Florida State 19. FSU played eight teams with losing records; Miami 12.
Still, wins are exceedingly hard to string together when you become a marked team.
“We were a lot of people’s bowl games,” Patrick said. “We were bigger than going to a bowl game to play so-and-so. They came into the Orange Bowl, we got the best out of everybody. I can remember even those smaller teams coming in, and they would give us everything they got. Great teams are capable of winning those games even at close margins. You win or you lose. That’s it.”
The only two other teams to reel off long winning streaks over the past 15 years were Miami (2000-02) and USC (2003-05). Both won 34 straight. Both have fielded teams regarded as among the best in college football history.
USC was viewed as playing in the better conference. There is an interesting comparison to be made with those USC teams and Florida State. During its 34-game winning streak, USC played 10 ranked opponents -- just one more than Florida State has played during its winning streak.
While the Trojans had only four games decided by a touchdown or less, they actually played weaker overall competition. USC faced 17 teams with losing records during its win streak. Yes, the USC streak was longer, but by only five games. If the FSU streak continues, the Noles have at least their next two games against winning opponents.
Miami also played its share of losing teams in the Big East. Clint Hurtt, who was on the 2001 national championship team, said motivation was a bigger factor than any pressure to keep the winning streak going.
“The pressure was never the issue. It was actually keeping interest,” Hurtt said. “What Florida State is going through right now is they have to present the challenge to themselves. The thing we did on those teams -- each position set goals that we had within the game that we had to try and accomplish. We played a game within the game just to get us going. That’s the truth.”
There is one more thing the two Miami teams and the 2003-05 USC teams have in common: Their winning streaks ended in the national championship game. Miami lost to Alabama in the 1992 Sugar Bowl; Miami lost to Ohio State in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl; USC lost to Texas in the 2005 Rose Bowl.
All three were favored to win, making their losses all the more stunning.
“It was one of the strangest games I’ve ever been in,” Patrick said of the loss to Alabama. “I remember sitting in there at halftime looking over at one of the other guys thinking, ‘What is going on out there?’ Some days the ball just doesn’t roll your way. Was there pressure? Absolutely not. I don’t think we went in there and one person thought about a streak. It was just the next one, and we’re going to take care of business.”
Florida State has taken care of business for so long, it is hard to believe the Seminoles are actually an underdog to Oregon in the Rose Bowl Game Presented By Northwestern Mutual on Jan. 1 in the College Football Playoff semifinals, the first time they haven't been favored to win since 2011.
While that might be a surprising place for the Seminoles to be in, they want to avoid what would be the biggest surprise of all: losing.