Fisher brushes off Winston criticism

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
8:41
PM ET
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher dismissed any criticism that Jameis Winston's half-game suspension for a profane and sexually charged outburst was too light.

"We're in charge. It's our team. That's we thought. We went with the consequences and we're ready to move on," Fisher said Thursday.

Florida State interim president Garnett S. Stokes and athletic director Stan Wilcox suspended the No. 1 Seminoles' star quarterback for the first half of Saturday's game against No. 22 Clemson in a joint statement Wednesday. They denounced Winston's behavior, calling it "offensive and vulgar."

Fisher's name was not on the statement, which raised eyebrows and questions as to whether this was a decision that came down from the administration rather than Fisher.

"They're always involved in university policies," Fisher said. "That's things at Florida State, the way we do it."

Fisher was asked a follow-up question about whether he usually is the one to mete out punishment, but he did not respond.

He also declined to divulge what Winston, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, told him about what happened outside the student union building Tuesday, saying the team is preparing for the 8 p.m. ET kickoff Saturday against Clemson. The winner of this game has won the ACC the past three seasons.

"He was wrong, and he made a mistake and a bad error in judgment," Fisher said. "That's water under the bridge. We got to move on and get ready for this game."

Backup quarterback Sean Maguire


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Brian Griese and Robert Smith make their picks for the biggest games of Week 4 between Clemson-Florida State, Mississippi State-LSU and Miami-Nebraska.

Why Clemson can upset FSU

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
1:00
PM ET

Last season, in a matchup billed as the "ACC Game of the Year," No. 5 Florida State went into Death Valley and dominated No. 3 Clemson. The Seminoles outgained the Tigers by more than 200 yards and forced an offense led by four-year starting quarterback Tajh Boyd into four turnovers and five punts.

This time, Florida State is the clear No. 1 team in the nation, and Clemson is still in the process of breaking in new quarterbacks. So why should this year be any different? 

While admittedly a small sample size, the Seminoles' first two games of the season show this is not the same team that won the BCS National Championship last season. Pair the weaknesses with Jameis Winston's first-half absence Saturday, and Clemson may have a better-than-advertised chance to come away from Bobby Bowden Field with a win.

Winston will be sorely missed

Clemson caught a break with Winston's first-half suspension, to say the least. Without Winston, Florida State will turn to redshirt sophomore Sean Maguire, who has just 26 career pass attempts, including 16 completions, in 10 appearances the past two seasons. All of Maguire's attempts came with the Seminoles leading by at least 25 points -- not exactly high-pressure situations. 

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Heather Dinich lays out the playoff implications of what could happen if Clemson can pull off the upset over Florida State on Saturday night.
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Andrea Adelson joins Cary Chow and Heather Dinich to preview No. 22 Clemson at No. 1 Florida State. Without Jameis Winston for a half, can the Tigers pull off the upset?
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Heather Dinich reacts to the news that Jameis Winston will sit out the first half of Saturday's game against No. 22 Clemson.

Kickoff Live: Week 4 (1 ET)

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
10:35
AM ET
ESPN.com reporters Ted Miller, Edward Aschoff and Heather Dinich join host Chantel Jennings to discuss the latest on Jameis Winston and preview the weekend slate of games.

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Trevor Matich explains how Clemson DE Vic Beasley and the Tigers' defense will prepare for Florida State with Seminoles QB Jameis Winston sitting out the first half.
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"Sport Science" compares the blazing speed of the ball boys from Florida State and Auburn.

ACC Week 4 predictions

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
9:00
AM ET
The ACC has a full slate of interesting games in Week 4. Andrea Adelson, Matt Fortuna, David Hale and Jared Shanker give their takes on who will win and why.

Andrea Adelson: If East Carolina quarterback Shane Carden can rack up 417 yards on one of the best secondaries in the ACC, what hope does North Carolina have in this game? North Carolina can talk revenge all it wants, hoping for a little payback for its embarrassing loss last year. But the Tar Heels have come out flat in both of their games this season, have had problems on the offensive and defensive lines and have been inconsistent in their run and return games. Just about every matchup arrow points in East Carolina's favor. East Carolina 31, North Carolina 21.

David Hale: If we learned anything from last week’s game, it should be this: In September, momentum swings quickly. Virginia Tech was riding high, ECU was overlooked and the end result was a dramatic win for the Pirates. Fast-forward to this week, and we have an overlooked North Carolina against an ECU team with an increasingly crowded bandwagon. The Tar Heels have a chip on their shoulder, remembering what happened last season. UNC’s secondary is solid, and Carden completed just 15 of 36 passes last week after ECU’s first two drives. The Pirates won’t sneak up on North Carolina this time around, and that’s the biggest advantage for the Heels. North Carolina 28, East Carolina 24.

Hale: It was just last year that Virginia’s underrated defense helped knock off BYU in Charlottesville, and those Hoos certainly weren’t as good as this year’s group. Yes, BYU has improved, but the Cougars still don’t have the most explosive offense. More importantly, BYU has thrown four interceptions and fumbled six times (four lost) in its first three games, and UVa’s defense will be by far the best the Cougars have seen so far. The onus will be on the Cavaliers’ offense to put a few points on the board -- no easy task against BYU -- but this could be a game in which the first team to find the end zone twice wins. Virginia 20, BYU 17.

Matt Fortuna: UVa is clearly a much-improved squad from last season and shouldn't need a two-hour rain delay to pull off the upset, as may have been the case last season. But the Hoos will still have their work cut out for them in Provo, Utah. Taysom Hill is a much better quarterback than he was a year ago. He has rushed for 356 yards through three games, second most nationally. Further complicating matters is the altitude of LaVell Edwards Stadium, which will test the depth of the UVa defense. The BYU defense has been flat-out salty against the run, and too much will be put on the Hoos' passing attack. BYU 30, Virginia 27.

Adelson: The Deacs showed some signs of life on offense in the second half against Utah State a week ago. Now the trick is to limit the turnovers and get the run game going. The bet is that will happen this week against Army, which has a run defense that ranks 84th in the nation, allowing 176 yards per game. The Wake Forest defense has played well for the most part, ranking 17th in the nation in total D, and will do enough to slow down the Black Knights. Wake Forest 21, Army 20.

Jared Shanker: It is not the sexiest matchup in Week 4, as both Army and Wake Forest have struggled in recent seasons. Army has not had a winning season since 2010, and Wake Forest is considered by many to be the worst Power 5 team in 2014. It isn't as much a case of having confidence in Army as it is questioning what Wake Forest will bring to the table. Stanford shut out Army last weekend, but the Black Knights were able to score 47 points against Buffalo, a team much more comparable to Wake Forest than the Cardinal. Wake Forest is playing a true freshman at quarterback and Army has a more experienced player leading the offense, and I think that will be the deciding factor. This will be a game decided in the final four minutes. Army 13, Wake Forest 10.

Fortuna: The Tigers know they are better than what they showed last season in a humiliating home loss to Florida State. Jameis Winston's declaration that Memorial Stadium is his house this past spring only fueled that fire, and now Winston won't even be around for the first half. All of that plays perfectly into the formula for a Tigers upset. Their highly touted defensive front has not lived up to expectations through two games, but if Clemson can create pressure early, get to backup QB Sean Maguire and force him to throw to someone other than Rashad Greene, the Tigers will give themselves a chance. Clemson 31, Florida State 27.

Shanker: It's almost as if this whole Winston half-game suspension sets up for the reigning Heisman Trophy winner to add to his legacy. Maguire is a solid backup, so the smart money is on him keeping the game close heading into halftime. At that point, the offense's keys are handed back to Winston, who torched the Tigers last season. The Florida State defense stifled Clemson's offense last season, and this version of Chad Morris' offense is not quite as talented as last season's. If the Florida State defense is motivated, it certainly could give Cole Stoudt and Deshaun Watson fits. Florida State 24, Clemson 17.

Unanimous predictions

Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech: The Hokies have won four straight in the series, as defensive coordinator Bud Foster seems to always find a way to slow down the Jackets’ triple-option offense. Though Virginia Tech is coming in off a loss, it has looked like the stronger team in the first three games. Virginia Tech 20, Georgia Tech 17.

Iowa at Pitt: If there is anyone in the ACC who should be familiar with the Hawkeyes, it is coach Paul Chryst, who coached against them during his time at Wisconsin. Though Iowa ranks No. 6 in the nation in rush defense, James Conner will find a way to get his 100 yards and lead the Panthers to a 4-0 start for the first time since 2000. Pitt 28, Iowa 17.

Maryland at Syracuse: The Orange beat the Terps 20-3 last year in their first meeting as ACC members, though Maryland was missing several of its best players in the game. In a battle of mobile quarterbacks, Terrel Hunt will better C.J. Brown and get Syracuse to 3-0 for the first time since 1991. Syracuse 28, Maryland 24.

Tulane at Duke: The Blue Devils have gone through their nonconference schedule with ease, but cannot get caught looking ahead to a looming showdown with Miami. The big question is whether Shaun Wilson can duplicate his 245-yard performance against the No. 94 rush defense in the country. Duke 41, Tulane 10.

Maine at BC: BC has to guard against a letdown after an emotional win over No. 9 USC last week. Coach Steve Addazio kept the intensity going at practice this week, hoping his team can carry on the momentum it has gained. Bank on that, behind another 100-yard rushing game from Tyler Murphy. Boston College 34, Maine 7.

Louisville at FIU: FIU put a scare into Pitt last week, so Louisville has to ward against overconfidence. Of course, the last time these two teams met a season ago, Louisville won 72-0. This should be a bounce-back game for the Cards’ offense, which struggled a week ago in a loss to Virginia. Louisville 45, FIU 0.

Presbyterian at NC State: The Wolfpack looked good last week in a road win over USF, and need to build off that win against Presbyterian, with a showdown against Florida State set for next weekend. The nonconference schedule has been weak, but after winning three games all of last season, NC State will take win No. 4. NC State 42, Presbyterian 10.

Miami at Nebraska: The Cornhuskers have a big edge on the Hurricanes in the trenches, and that is where this game will be decided. Miami’s defense has played better, but it will have a tough time slowing down Heisman contender Ameer Abdullah on the road in a nationally televised game. Nebraska 35, Miami 24.

Records this season
Shanker: 32-3
Adelson: 29-6
Fortuna: 29-6
Hale: 29-6
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Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher joins SportsCenter to talk about Jameis Winston's suspension, Sean Maguire starting Saturday and the Seminoles' preparations for Clemson.

'College Football Minute'

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
6:14
PM ET


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The selection committee's take on suspensions, Auburn's secret ingredient and how Kansas State can get the win Thursday. It's all ahead on the "College Football Minute."
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Last season Florida State fullback Nick O'Leary put a monster hit on Clemson safety Travis Blanks. FSU players look back on one of the most memorable moments from that game.
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Trevor Matich and Todd McShay share why they feel suspending Jameis Winston is the right call, even if it is only for the first half of Saturday's game versus Clemson.

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