Georgia-Florida State Orange Bowl lacks juice: 12-team Playoff should’ve come year earlier

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MIAMI — Florida State violative coordinator Alex Atkins wasn’t pinch nan squad erstwhile it recovered retired astir nan College Football Playoff snub. Atkins was successful nan air, connected nan measurement to a recruiting travel to nan West Coast, and erstwhile he landed he sewage nan notification connected his phone: We’re playing Georgia successful nan Orange Bowl.

In his passageway imagination mind, Atkins’ only thought was: “Oh, I gotta get fresh for that Georgia defense.”

It wasn’t until Atkins went to nan car rental table astatine San Francisco that reality deed him. Atkins was wearing an FSU shirt, and nan table supplier noticed.

“Man, y’all sewage screwed!” he said.

Atkins relayed nan communicative arsenic a measurement to effort to show that it’s chiefly group connected nan extracurricular who spot not making nan CFP arsenic nan main story. People for illustration Atkins and others astatine Florida State person tried to coming nan Orange Bowl arsenic still a bully measurement successful nan ascendance of their program, a crippled worthy of being excited about.

The CLIMB continues successful nan @OrangeBowl

🗓️: Saturday
⌚️: 4:00pm ET
📍: Miami Gardens
🏟️: Hard Rock
📺: ESPN
📻: https://t.co/z9h0OLWuNS#NoleFamily | #KeepCLIMBing pic.twitter.com/OZcapk7rE9

— FSU Football (@FSUFootball) December 28, 2023

But past you person nan opt-outs, pinch 8 cardinal Seminoles sitting this 1 out. And of nan ones who are playing, you request only talk to them to spot nan wounded is still there.

Darius Washington, a elder violative lineman, was asked this week what it was for illustration to beryllium spurned by nan committee.

“I deliberation you each saw it,” he said. “You saw it connected ESPN.”

It’s been 4 weeks. Are they complete nan snub?

Washington shook his head.

“That’s a life determination correct there,” he said. “I came to assemblage successful 2019. Think of nan group that came successful pinch you, those seniors, those fifth-year guys, this is their past year. You’re ne'er going to get that back. That’s thing that’s going to wounded forever.”

Fentrell Cypress, a elder cornerback, tried to put a small amended look connected this week, while still granting nan obvious.

“Of people guys are upset,” Cypress said. “There’s a batch of guys still thankful for nan opportunity to beryllium there. Even for immoderate of nan younger guys, they’ve sewage an opportunity to play erstwhile they mightiness not. We’re still excited. It’s still a large game. We’re playing a very bully team. And we request to play well. It’s adjacent to being different Playoff game.”

Close. But not.

Florida State request only blasted its ain ACC commissioner for delaying nan implementation of nan 12-team Playoff. If it had been successful spot this year, Florida State would person already played a first-round crippled against No. 12 seed Liberty, successful Tallahassee, and astir apt would beryllium preparing for a quarterfinal crippled against Alabama.

Georgia, meanwhile, would person played a location first-round crippled against an force for illustration Oklahoma aliases Penn State. The Bulldogs would beryllium nan celebrated prime to make a tally done nan Playoff, and assemblage shot would spot much of prima tight extremity Brock Bowers. Instead he’s apt to beryllium retired aliases person only a cameo successful nan Orange Bowl, resting his ankle for nan pros.

That’s not to opportunity it will beryllium crickets and tumbleweeds Saturday astatine Hard Rock Stadium. The surface science of nan instrumentality bases should boost attendance much than if this were, say, Ohio State against Missouri. And there’s a chance nan crippled is much absorbing than expected.

Florida State is connected its No. 3 quarterback, and its accomplishment position decimated, having mislaid 86 percent of its full yards production. But astir of its defense is still there, missing only 20.5 percent of nan tackles and 28 percent of nan sacks. There could beryllium a rallying effect among nan Seminoles who remain, aliases a looseness that comes from nary 1 expecting them to support it close.

Or Georgia could conscionable triumph nan expected blowout. It has nary known opt-outs; coach Kirby Smart said he talked to each subordinate who had a draught people but different near it up to them. He credited nan squad activity and besides nan desire not to spell retired pinch a loss.

“It was a small spot of a contagious deal,” Smart said. “One feline decided to play, past different feline and truthful on.”

But successful nan aforesaid breath, Smart besides indicated much than a fewer players held out.

“We’re going to person much guys person much opportunities than they usually would, conscionable because of nan injuries.”

A fewer injuries that astir apt would beryllium flooded if this were a Playoff game.

There are still Playoff description detractors. That’s fine. But cipher tin revert to nan past, erstwhile vessel games meant everything. When players started opting retired — Leonard Fournette started nan inclination successful 2016 — and it didn’t wounded them successful nan eyes of NFL scouts, nan inclination couldn’t beryllium stopped. It’s a awesome mobility what will hap to vessel games successful nan years aft nan 12-team section happens. There is still worth successful them, and not conscionable for ESPN to person content: Young players get a caput commencement connected adjacent year, seniors tin decorativeness their years connected precocious notes, coaches, staffers and media get a week astatine a bully destination. (Mostly bully destinations, astatine least.)

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But Florida State and Georgia some deserved amended than conscionable a bully week successful Miami.

Georgia went unbeaten successful nan regular season, past had a bad time successful nan SEC championship. One tin reason that’s capable to warrant nan punishment of nary championship. One tin constituent to that not costing Georgia 2 years ago, aliases Alabama this twelvemonth erstwhile it sewage humbled astatine home.

Florida State, though, deserved it measurement more. It deserved to beryllium talking astir its important Playoff matchup, alternatively than asked to recount that achy infinitesimal earlier successful nan month.

But present they are. It’s still a bully week. It whitethorn beryllium a bully game. But it’s not what it could person been.

“You’ve still gotta return it pinch a atom of brackish and spell from there,” said Washington, nan FSU protect lineman. “It’s not nan Playoff. But you can’t get that back. Keep moving guardant pinch nan group you have.”

 (Photo of Georgia coach Kirby Smart: Lynne Sladky / Associated Press)

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