Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

November 13, 2018 at 9:44 pm.

Seminoles’ NCAA-record bowl streak in jeopardy

Disgruntled Florida State fans can say whatever they want about Jimbo Fisher, but before he left to take over at Texas A&M after eight years as the Seminoles’ head coach, he helped the program keep its NCAA-record, 36-year bowl game streak intact with wins in the final three regular-season games.

Now, it’s Willie Taggart’s turn.

Taggart enters the final stretch of his first season as Florida State’s head coach staring at a 4-6 record and needing two straight victories to keep the coveted streak alive.

So just forget the fact that the Seminoles have a chance to avenge an ugly, 35-3 loss to No. 20 Boston College a year ago when they two meet again Saturday in Tallahassee. And also forget that the regular-season finale is against hated rival No. 13 Florida.

All the talk this week was how Taggart could still salvage a forgettable debut season by delivering two final Ws.

“This week is the beginning of a two-game season for us,” Taggart said Monday. “We got two games at home against two really good opponents, still have some goals that are attainable. We need to take this one game at a time (because the streak) — it’s important to us. It’s important to our players. It’s important to our fan base, it’s important to the teams that came before us that we keep it going and we talked about it as a team and our guys understand what’s at stake. It’s important for our seniors to leave here and not be that senior class that didn’t go to a bowl game.

“So it’s important for a lot of reasons and we need to approach it that way in everything we’re doing, the way we go to class, going to practice, in meetings or whatever we’re doing, there’s a lot of people counting on us.”

There were a lot of people also counting on Taggart to turn around the program when he arrived, but so far things have not gone according to plan.

The Seminoles are coming off an embarrassing 42-13 defeat at No. 3 Notre Dame this past Saturday in a game that was all but over at halftime. And now Florida State (4-6 overall, 2-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) must face an incredibly talented Boston College (7-3, 4-2) team with the Seminoles’ offense and defense in shambles. With losses in its last three games (Clemson, N.C. State and Notre Dame), Florida State has now been outscored 148-51 during that span, which is the most points any Florida State defense in history has allowed over a three-game span.

“Again, I want our guys to want to win. We all do,” Taggart said, “Our guys know the issues that we’re having and we got to correct them. And I say coaches and players got to correct all the things that we’re doing to ourselves that cause us not to be in these ball games or win these ball games. And we’re working towards that. And if we’re going to win these two ball games and get those goals that we want in front of us, that’s got to happen.”

Last year’s team had an easier path to extend the bowl streak to 36 straight appearances, needing just to beat FCS program Delaware State, a 4-6 Florida team and then win a makeup game against lowly Louisiana-Monroe to even its record at 6-6 and become bowl eligible. The Seminoles surprisingly accomplished that with ease, outscoring those three teams 157-38 — but this year won’t be nearly as easy with two ranked programs standing in the way.

Perhaps a drastic uniform change can bring the Seminoles fortune? That’s what the school is banking on by announcing this week that the team will face Boston College in a never-before-seen uniform combination: Garnet pants, black jerseys and black and garnet helmets.

At this point, anything is worth a shot.

“I think (a turn around to this season) can happen at any time because of our guys’ attitude, our practices (have been good),” Taggart said. “But we got to do it on Saturday. We got to do it under the spotlight when it counts. So I’m confident this week, but we got to play a lot better.”