Depleted FSU Team No Match for Dominant Georgia Squad Eyeing CFP Spot
The highly anticipated Orange Bowl showdown between the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida State Seminoles turned into a shocking blowout, as a depleted FSU team was no match for the talent and motivation of a Georgia squad with a chip on their shoulder over missing the College Football Playoff. In front of a sold-out crowd at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, the Bulldogs steamrolled the Seminoles 63-3 in a game that was essentially over by halftime.
Second-Half Slaughter After Close First Half
The game started off looking like it might actually live up to the hype, with Florida State matching Georgia punch-for-punch early on. The Seminoles struck first with a field goal, but the Bulldogs answered with two touchdowns to take a 14-3 lead after the first quarter. However, the game completely changed course in the second quarter, as Georgia ripped off 28 unanswered points in a span of less than 9 minutes to break things wide open with a commanding 42-3 halftime advantage.
“We just overwhelmed them in the second quarter,” said Georgia head coach Kirby Smart. “Our guys were incredibly focused and motivated out there today.”
Meanwhile, the short-handed Florida State team simply had no answers, either offensively or defensively, as their national championship hopes crashed down rapidly amid a shocking beatdown.
“That second quarter was obviously very disappointing,” FSU coach Mike Norvell said. “We needed to play much better fundamental football to have a chance today.”
Numerous Opt-Outs for Seminoles
A major storyline heading into this game was Florida State missing several key players who opted out to avoid injury before entering the NFL Draft. The Seminoles were without their top pass rusher Jared Verse, leading receiver Ontaria Wilson, and standout defensive tackle Fabien Lovett among others. Meanwhile, Georgia did not have any opt-outs and was at full strength.
This talent disparity was glaring, as FSU struggled mightily on both sides of the ball with so many second and third-stringers thrust into starting roles against an elite Georgia team. The Seminoles offense managed just 139 total yards for the entire game.
“It definitely impacted our performance with so many guys out there,” Norvell admitted. “But that’s no excuse…the guys who did play need to execute better.”
Beck Dominates in Rare Start
With Georgia’s star quarterback Stetson Bennett resting up for the NFL Draft, backup QB Carson Beck made the most of a rare start, torching FSU’s defense for 384 yards and 5 touchdowns on just 18 completions. Meanwhile, the Seminoles started Tate Rodemaker after Jordan Travis entered the transfer portal, and he struggled mightily, throwing for just 57 yards with an interception before getting benched.
Beck spread the ball around masterfully, with Ladd McConkey (5 catches, 175 yards, 3 TDs), Darnell Washington (4 catches, 121 yards) and Arian Smith (4 catches, 63 yards, TD) all enjoying huge games. On the ground, Kendall Milton racked up 85 yards and a score.
“I was seeing the field really well today,” Beck said confidently after the dominant performance. “We were just clicking on all cylinders out there.”
Statement Game After Missing Playoff
While Georgia players and coaches said all the right things leading up to this game, it was obvious the Bulldogs came in extremely motivated to make a statement after controversially getting left out of the College Football Playoff. They did just that, demolishing the ACC champion Seminoles despite being 4-point underdogs.
Kirby Smart deflected questions about whether he felt his team deserved a playoff spot, but he didn’t hide his satisfaction at their response.
“I’m just really proud of our guys’ effort and execution today,” Smart said. “They played with tremendous passion and physicality.”
Meanwhile, the loss caps a disappointing ending for Florida State after they upset rivals Florida and Miami to win their first ACC title since 2014. But coaches and players made no excuses about the lopsided Orange Bowl result.
“We just didn’t get it done today, it’s unacceptable,” Norvell said bluntly. “But it takes nothing away from the great season we had.”
Looking Ahead to 2024
While Georgia awaits several key NFL Draft decisions, early projections show they should be right back in national title contention next season. The Bulldogs are expected to return the majority of their offensive weapons along with most starters on a fierce defense. They await the decisions of tight end Darnell Washington, defensive tackle Jalen Carter, and cornerback Kelee Ringo among others. But with another top-ranked recruiting class coming in, Georgia looks ready to battle for SEC and national supremacy again in 2024.
Meanwhile Florida State must replace several key players like Verse, Wilson and Lovett, but they also brought in a highly touted 2023 class. And with the quick emergence of Travis, the Seminoles seem ahead of schedule under third-year coach Norvell. Although they wilted on the big stage this year, expect Florida State back in ACC title contention next season as well.
“Today hurts, but I’m proud of what we accomplished this year,” Norvell said. “We learned valuable lessons that will only make us stronger going forward.”
So while Georgia left no doubt about their talent and motivation level with an absolute smackdown for the ages, both proud programs appear well-positioned to be factors on the national scene again soon. It sets up an intriguing next chapter for this burgeoning Southern rivalry.
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