E.J. Manuel can lead FSU to best season since 1999

Stacy Revere

Despite criticism, quarterback E.J. Manuel has the Seminoles in position to win as many as 13 games this season.

The past decade has been one of underachievement for the Florida St. Seminoles. The Seminoles have not won an ACC championship since 2005, their last BCS appearance, and have not won a BCS bowl since the Orange Bowl victory in the Seminoles' national championship season in 1999.

However, of-criticized quarterback E.J. Manuel, seventh in the nation in passer efficiency, has a chance to give Florida St. its 11th win of the season on Saturday with a victory over rival Florida, leading the 'Noles to their best season since 1999 in the process. Garry Smits of the Florida Times-Union makes the case for Manuel's legacy:

He's a combined 4-0 as a starter against the Gators, Miami and Clemson and has either started or played most of the game in three bowl victories. He was the MVP of the 2010 Gator Bowl, came off the bench early in the second quarter to lead FSU over South Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Bowl the following season, then threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to lead the Seminoles from a 14-3 deficit to beat Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl last season.

[...]

Manuel and the FSU offense had a repeat performance of that Virginia loss earlier this season against N.C. State after holding a 13-0 halftime lead.

But since the loss to the Wolfpack, Manuel has been money for the Seminoles. He's thrown for 1,420 yards and 11 touchdowns in five games and has a passer rating of 168.2.

Florida St. has three games left this season, and all have special meaning. A victory against rival Florida would knock the Gators out of the national championship hunt, while keeping the Seminoles' thin hopes alive. A win against Georgia Tech would give Florida St. their first ACC title since 2005. An Orange Bowl victory would give FSU its first BCS victory in nearly 15 years. If Florida St. is to achieve those accomplishments, it will be Manuel who will lead them there.

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