No. 3 Florida St has easy road ahead next 3 weeks
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Jimbo Fisher did not vote his Florida State Seminoles No. 1 in the Coaches Poll last week despite beating N.C. State, No. 8 Clemson and Maryland by a combined 132 points in consecutive weeks. Maybe that will change after beating Miami by 27 points.
Third-ranked Florida State has beaten its three ranked opponents by a combined 155-28 this season. Miami entered Saturday ranked No. 7, Clemson was No. 3 at the time and Maryland was No. 25. Fisher laughed and dodged the question after the Miami game when asked if the team finally earned his first-place vote.
“This is a very good football team,” Fisher said. “That’s a very good football team we just played. Beating them by four touchdowns, you don’t do that very often. That’s doesn’t happen.
“I’ll say this, I love our football team. I love our football team.”
The Seminoles (8-0, 6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) need just one ACC victory to lock up the Atlantic division and secure a berth in the conference championship game Dec. 7. They are likely to be 20-plus-point favorites at Wake Forest (4-5, 2-4) and at home against Syracuse (4-4, 2-2) considering they were a 21 ½-point favorite against a top-10 Miami team.
“I give Florida State a lot of credit,” Miami coach Al Golden said. “That’s an excellent team and a deep team. We have to play so much better than that and we did not.”
The next real challenge for the No. 3 team in the BCS standing is rival Florida (4-4, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) in Gainesville, Fla. on Nov. 30. Everything sets up for Florida State being undefeated before the Florida game and remaining a serious contender for a spot in the BCS championship game.
“We’ve played three pretty emotional games in a row,” Fisher said. “We’re going to see if we can keep continuing to mature and preparing well and growing as a team.”
No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Oregon might be the biggest obstacles to Florida State’s championship aspirations, and they’re not on the schedule. Not yet, anyway. The Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0) still have No. 10 LSU and No. 7 Auburn on the schedule before it qualifies for the SEC championship game. The Ducks (8-0, 5-0 Pac-12) have yet to play sixth-ranked Stanford, Arizona (6-2, 3-2) and Oregon State (6-3, 4-2) before a possible Pac-12 title game.
Florida State has the easiest backstretch of the three teams, but that doesn’t help the Seminoles leapfrog if the other two remain undefeated.
“I feel like it could be that special season if we just play one game at a time and still dominate,” Florida State running back Devonta Freeman said.
The Seminoles defense has dominated all season outside of giving up 34 points to Boston College, but the play of Heisman Trophy candidate Jameis Winston has pushed the team to elite status.
Fisher was thrilled to see his team excel even when Winston struggled somewhat against the Hurricanes. The redshirt freshman still finished with 325 yard passing and a touchdown, but also threw two interceptions and had several inaccurate throws. Winston did bounce back from a shaky first half by completing 12-of-14 passes after halftime. The defense shut out the Hurricanes in the second half, forced two interceptions and got off the field on fourth-and-2 from the Florida State 26.
“I definitely feel like we did what we were supposed to do,” Florida State nose guard Timmy Jernigan said. “Miami is a great team; they have a great rushing attack, one of the best in the country. We proved that we could play with the best tonight.”