These tweets from ESPN's David Hale are really quite eye-opening.
#FSU opps were combined 34-25 (.576) before playing them & 24-27 (.470) after. And no, I have no clue if that’s statistically significant.— David Hale (@DavidHaleESPN) December 1, 2014
Now, some of this is understandable. After playing Florida State, Oklahoma State, Louisville and Clemson all lost their quarterbacks for all or a majority of their remaining games, and N.C. State's was injured, though he continued to play. That is a lot of this.
With Notre Dame, Everett Golson had been lucky with tipped and batted balls not falling into the hands of receivers for interceptions, and in the weeks after, he had a ton do just that. And the Irish lost some key defensive players, and totally collapsed, losing their final four games.
Another part of this is that teams typically have better records early in the season if they schedule cupcakes early, which is often where cupcakes are scheduled.
But is there more to this? FSU played seven of the same opponents this year as it did in 2013. The 2013 team beat them by 252 points. This year? By just 91. Could, as many have posited, those teams have put too much effort into preparing for Florida State, only to have it ripped away from them in a soul-crushing, emotional fashion?
Take Miami, for instance. A rare great crowd in Sun Life Stadium, albeit one buoyed by many FSU fans, and a jacked up team that believed. FSU storms back after being down by three scores.
As the Miami Herald put it,
"When UM lost to FSU -- after investing all it had to beat the Seminoles and keep its Coastal Division hopes alive -- there was nothing tangible to play for anymore."
I don't know what the reason is, but that is noticeable difference in play before and after. What do you think?