Georgia vs. Florida State: 5 things to know about the Orange Bowl matchup
Georgia controlled its Playoff fate, and it just fell short in a flat performance against Alabama in the SEC Championship game. Florida State thought it was in control of its Playoff fate — until Alabama’s win caused a historic ripple effect through the Playoff rankings.
When the dust settled on Selection Sunday, it was Florida State and Georgia sitting on the outside looking in, ranked No. 5 and 6 in the country, respectively.
Now, they will square off in what amounts to a consolation prize in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30.
There’s a lot to unpack here, beginning with how Florida State will respond to being unceremoniously removed from the top 4 despite winning the ACC Championship Game against No. 14 Louisville.
Let’s start there as we look into the top things to know about this upcoming bowl showdown.
How will Florida State respond?
Let’s not sugarcoat it: This was a devastating development for the Seminoles. I’ll use my soap box here to say that, to me, it’s unfathomable that an undefeated conference champion can be left out of the Playoff simply because its stud starting quarterback is out for the season. It’s a terrible precedent for college football. Whether or not I think Florida State is a top-4 football team is irrelevant. It still took care of business.
Of course, none of this is of any consequence for the Seminoles. They’re out, and they must deal with that one way or another. How they deal with it will be of interest.
The No. 5 team in the final CFP rankings has had an up-and-down history in its bowl game. It lost its bowl in 3 straight seasons from 2014-16 (Baylor, Iowa and Penn State). Georgia lost to Texas in 2018 after falling short against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Notre Dame fell to Oklahoma State in 2021.
But Florida State is in a different position. Those teams had their dreams dashed at the last minute by things largely within their control. Florida State didn’t. And for that reason, it may have some motivation to prove the committee wrong and throw this season into further chaos.
Which brings me to my next point …
What if Florida State actually beats Georgia?
It feels a little like Georgia has been selected by the CFP selection committee to be an enforcer. Go demonstrate, Bulldogs, what would have happened if the Seminoles were allowed to participate in this 4-team gauntlet.
And, honestly, there’s a good chance that’s what happens. But let’s play a game of what-if.
What if Florida State comes out and actually defeats Georgia — the team most considered the best in college football up until 24 hours ago — in the Orange Bowl? Now you have an undefeated conference champion with a victory over a team that had gone 45-2 over its previous 47 games. Now you have a case that the Seminoles should absolutely have been included in the CFP, despite what subjective prognosticators thought.
This all has very little to do with the actual on-field matchup. But it’s certainly some additional intrigue that surrounds the game.
What to expect at quarterback for FSU
In short: not much.
Whether it’s a healthier Tate Rodemaker or Brock Glenn under center, and despite all that has been written above about Florida State’s claim to 1 of the 4 CFP spots, this is not the same football team without Jordan Travis.
Travis was the heart and soul of the team. At the time of his injury, he had 2,755 passing yards, 20 touchdown passes and just 2 interceptions. He had also rushed for 7 touchdowns.
Rodemaker actually has some OK numbers, but he’s not Travis. Rodemaker can be a fairly accurate quarterback down the field. He has decent arm strength and moves OK for a player his size (6-4).
But his skill set simply isn’t one that aligns with Georgia’s defensive deficiencies. Georgia gets beaten by quarterbacks who can extend plays or get off the edge for decent runs. Traditional pocket passing and runs between the tackles typically fall flat against the Bulldogs.
In this sense, it’s a troubling matchup for the Seminoles.
Florida State’s skill players
Where the Seminoles can succeed, though, is at wide receiver, where Keon Coleman stands as one of the nation’s best. Coleman’s 50 receptions for 658 yards and 11 touchdowns don’t absolutely break the stat sheet, but at 6-4 and 215 pounds, he has a physical presence that poses an absolute threat to the Georgia secondary.
And we can’t talk about physical without addressing his battery mate, Johnny Wilson, a junior wideout who is 6-7 and 237 pounds. Wilson had 617 yards and 2 touchdown receptions this year.
These 2 are defendable, obviously, as the Seminoles have struggled offensively without Travis. But their size nonetheless poses a challenge for any cornerback.
What will Georgia’s roster look like?
The question in these types of games these days will always be who plays and who sits out. That could loom large for Georgia.
I can see a scenario where Georgia’s offense looks completely different: Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey, who have dealt with injuries, will very likely sit out the bowl in preparation for the NFL Draft. The same can be said for guys on the offensive line like Sedrick Van Pran and Amarius Mims. On defense, don’t be surprised to see Kamari Lassiter and Javon Bullard on the sideline.
Would all of these changes be enough to give Florida State a chance to win this game?
I say a lot of these guys sit out. I also say Georgia still controls the game.