One of the hallmarks of Florida State’s dynasty of the ‘90s was an insurmountable home field advantage. Not even a 28-point 4th-quarter deficit against Florida in ’94 could derail the ‘Noles, and in the decade-long stretch from 1991 to 2000 Florida State lost exactly once inside the friendly confines of Doak Campbell Stadium. Unfortunately the trend came crashing down this decade…in the ten years since 2000 the ‘Noles have dropped a whopping 16 home games (and counting). Among the lowlights:
• A shocking 28-34 loss to NC State in 2001 that knocked FSU out of the ACC race.
• A 24-34 loss to a bad Notre Dame team on the heels of the collapse against Miami in 2002
• A humiliating 13-20 loss to Ron Zook and the Gators the same night Bobby Bowden Field was commemorated in 2004
• The soul-crushing shutout loss to Wake Forest in 2006
• Pitiful performances against Boston College and Florida to close the season last year
• And of course the awful home loss to South Florida and their backup QB last weekend.
Perhaps most troubling of all, the trend seems to be getting worse. Just look at this season: two gut-wrenching losses and an embarrassingly close game against an FCS team at home vs. a 54-point romp over a Top 10 opponent on the road. In fact, over the last three years FSU has averaged almost three home losses per season!
Like so many of Florida State’s problems this decade the majority of the blame appears to lie with the offense. So far in 2009 FSU is averaging 69 rushing yards at home vs. 313 on the road. Of course this season only provides a small sample, but last year the ‘Noles averaged 37 more rushing yards on the road despite two home games against FCS opponents; and FSU has averaged more rushing yards, total offense, and a higher 3rd-down conversion percentage on the road three out of the past four years. In contrast FSU’s defensive stats were almost identical at home vs. on the road last year.
I wish I had the answer for FSU’s struggles in Doak the past few seasons, but I don’t. Do the players tighten up in front of the home crowd? Are the coaches distracted by recruiting? Is Doak built on an ancient Indian burial ground? I don’t know…and apparently neither do FSU’s offensive coaches, but they’d better figure it out fast if the Seminoles hope to salvage this season.
Bet hey, look at the bright side: we play at Florida this year.