-0.1: Average gain on E.J. Manuel's first 10 pass attempts. Protected, er, "protected," by a line loaded with true freshmen, Manuel was running for his life early in the game. Early in the second quarter, Manuel was 4-for-7 for 22 yards and had been sacked three times for 23 yards. But as Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher noted heading into halftime, the young line seemed to get its sea legs. And after the early struggle, things fell into place at least a little better in the pocket. In his final 26 pass attempts, Manuel was 16-for-24 for 227 yards and was only sacked twice; his per-attempt average in that time: 7.9 yards.
1.8: Average points scored by Notre Dame in four trips inside the Florida State 40. The Irish scored one touchdown, missed a field goal, and threw two picks. Quarterback Tommy Rees will find himself in a hellacious quarterback battle this spring, and in a lot of ways, it is his own doing. He threw two more interceptions in the end zone yesterday, continuing what was a season-long issue. Notre Dame's defense is strong, but you still need to do them some favors by taking advantage of the opportunities they present. A nice Michael Floyd punt return on the Irish's first possession set them up with a short field, and after Rees advanced them 33 yards to the Florida State 4, Rees completely failed to read zone coverage correctly and threw a pass that could have been intercepted by two different players. (That Notre Dame scored on a fumble return on the next play was simply a happy accident.) Then, down 18-14 with under three minutes remaining, he threw another pick in the end zone on a deep ball from the 28. You aren't going to get many chances against the Florida State defense, and you cannot afford to blow three of them.
4: Bobbles by Michael Floyd on this touchdown catch:
Or was it five? Six, maybe?
5: Catches by Florida State's Rashad Greene. With Manuel running for his life, Greene was targeted just twice in the first half, and both of those passes fell incomplete. In the second half, he went berserk (at least in non-Alamo Bowl terms). He caught five of six passes for 99 yards and a touchdown, and each one seemed to have an increased degree of difficulty. Fisher and the Seminoles have won quite a few recruiting battles over the last two years, but beating out Georgia and Miami for the true freshman from Ft. Lauderdale's St. Thomas Aquinas seems to have paid off the most immediately. Then again, with as many freshmen as Florida State played last night, there is no saying Greene will continue to be the best of the class.
10: Tackles by Manti Te'o. He also managed a half of a sack, a forced fumble and a pass broken up. Though honestly, you could have convinced me it was more like six tackles for loss and four passes broken up. He was all over the place, and he gave Notre Dame fans plenty of reason for optimism in 2012 despite yesterday's result. Now if only he could add "red zone quarterback" to his skill set.
173: Yards gained by Florida State in three consecutive second-half drives. With Manuel running for his life and the Seminoles' ground game rendered mostly ineffective -- Devonta Freeman and James Wilder, both freshmen (naturally), gained just 58 yards on 17 carries -- FSU struggled to consistently move the ball. But Greene momentarily caught fire, and Florida State took full advantage, with some help from great field position. They drove 84 yards in 10 plays to draw within 14-9, then capitalized on another interception to drive 18 yards in two plays for the go-ahead score. Throw in a nine-play, 71-yard field goal drive on the next possession, and you've got all of FSU's scores. Outside of these three possessions, FSU gained just 117 yards (3.0 per play) the rest of the game. But when you've got a defense this good, you just need one burst of offense to win games. It took a while, but they got it.
Unmeasurable: The amount of hype Florida State is going to receive heading into 2012. They were ridiculously young and banged up in 2011, and with their recent recruiting success and returning starters, they are sure to project well in next year's Football Outsiders Almanac. That alone is something -- often a historical power is given love from the pollsters without the benefit of statistics, and FSU will have statistics on their side; still, while they have probably earned the right to be picked as a Top 10 or Top 15 team, we'll see if they are ready for the Top Five hype they are about to receive.