There's no question the Noles are a better team than they were the day they played Wake Forest, but how much better? Is this the team many were expecting to contend for the national title? Or is Florida State's recent success merely a byproduct of the lesser competition it has faced in recent weeks? It's a combination of both. A few points to consider:
NC State is the first team Florida State has beaten that has a winning record. Charleston Southern? 0-8 in the Big South. Louisiana-Monroe? 4-4 in the Sun Belt. And Duke and Maryland have combined for a 5-11 record. There's nothing there that screams FSU should be in the top 25, and wins against BC, Miami, UVa and even Florida won't do much to convince me otherwise, but a seven-game winning streak would be pretty hard to ignore and odds are they would finish somewhere in the top 25.
All three wins have been by at least 25 points, which means the Noles are taking care of business and leaving no doubt about who's the better team (unlike Virginia Tech at Duke).
It's no coincidence that quarterback EJ Manuel and the running game have flourished in each of the past three wins, and the offensive line has also started to come together. Manuel has thrown for more than 240 yards in each of the past three wins, and FSU has run for more than 200 in two of the past three. They ran for 123 yards against NC State, but Manuel threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns.
FSU is No. 3 in the country in sacks, No. 6 in tackles for loss, No. 4 in rushing defense, No. 8 in total defense and No. 12 in scoring defense. That's good no matter who you're playing.
So yes, Florida State looks much better than it did during its three-game losing streak, but odds are we'll have to wait until the bowl game to determine what to think of this program heading into the offseason. There's no reason to think the Noles can't win out, but will they be worthy of the preseason hype they received this past summer? In that regard, they've still got a lot to prove.