Florida State Seminoles: ACC

With a combined six national titles and five Heisman Trophy winners since 1993, Florida State-Florida has been one of the top rivalries in college football during the past 30 years. The intense rivalry extends beyond the field and into the recruiting world.

The two schools, which are located roughly two hours apart from each other, are being considered by many of the top recruits in the talent-rich state of Florida. Florida State signed 14 ESPN 300 recruits from Florida in 2014, two of whom (Dalvin Cook and Ermon Lane) flipped their commitments from Florida. The Gators, meanwhile, where able to flip three prospects (J.C. Jackson, Treon Harris and Ryan Sousa) from FSU.

Flipping commitments from an in-state rival is an inevitable part of the recruiting process. Florida State quarterback commit De'Andre Johnson is stuck right in the middle of this heated rivalry and knows just how intense the process can be.

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Love it or hate it, the BCS delivered a dramatic and fitting ending on Monday night, as No. 1 FSU rallied from from a late four-point deficit in the final two minutes to defeat No. 2 Auburn 34-31 in the final VIZIO BCS National Championship at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. The Seminoles won their third national championship and ended the SEC's reign of seven consecutive BCS national championships.

Play of the game: Trailing 31-27 with about one minute to go, Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston threw a 49-yard pass to Rashad Greene to move to Auburn's 23-yard line with 56 seconds to play. Six players later, after Auburn was penalized for pass interference in the end zone, Winston threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin to go ahead for good with 13 seconds to play. FSU's extra point gave it a 34-31 lead.

Turning point: After Auburn took a 24-20 lead with about 4:42 to go, FSU's Levonte Whitfield returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, giving the Seminoles a 27-24 lead with 4:31 left. Whitfield, a 5-foot-7 freshman known as "Kermit," returned a kickoff for a touchdown for the second time this season.

Early turning point: With Auburn holding a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter, Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall lofted a 50-yard touchdown pass to Melvin Ray to stake the Tigers to a 14-3 lead with 13:48 to go in the first half. Ray, a sophomore from Tallahassee, Fla., had four catches for 58 yards this season before hauling in the long touchdown catch against the hometown Seminoles. FSU, which hadn't trailed since falling behind Boston College on Sept. 28 and had led for more than 571 minutes of football before falling behind the Tigers, suddenly trailed by two scores. The Seminoles played catch-up the rest of the night but finally caught the Tigers in the end.

Player of the game: Winston, a redshirt freshman from Bessemer, Ala., got off to a slow start against Auburn's defense, getting sacked four times and fumbling once in the first half. But in the end, Winston broke the Heisman Trophy jinx, throwing the winning touchdown with 13 seconds to play. He completed 20 of 35 passes for 237 yards with two touchdowns.

What it means: The controversial BCS era ends with the SEC being denied its eighth consecutive national championship, which should sit well with college football fans outside of the SEC. In a game in which the SEC seemed most vulnerable during its championship streak, the Tigers jumped out to a 21-3 lead but couldn't hold on for a victory. The Tigers were denied their second BCS national championship since the 2010 season, when they defeated Oregon 22-19 in the BCS National Championship behind quarterback Cam Newton. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn missed becoming only the second coach -- Miami's Larry Coker was the first -- to lead his team to the national title in his first season since the BCS began in 1998.

Stat that matters: 2-for-12: Florida State won despite going 2-for-12 on third down.

What's next: Florida State will probably be a popular choice to be the No. 1 team in preseason polls heading into the 2014 season. FSU will have to replace several key pieces on defense, including linebackers Christian Jones and Telvin Smith and cornerback Lamarcus Joyner. But the Seminoles will bring back Winston, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, along with several of their most important players on offense. Auburn, which reached the BCS national championship in Malzahn's first season, will be among the SEC West favorites in 2014, along with Alabama and LSU. The Tigers will bring back Marshall, but they'll have to wait to see if junior tailback Tre Mason returns to school or enters next spring's NFL draft. Auburn's very young defense will be a lot wiser in coordinator Ellis Johnson's second season, too.

Marcell Harris sets decision date 

October, 31, 2012
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- ESPN 150 safety Marcell Harris (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips) has set his college decision date for Nov. 16.

The 6-foot-1, 207-pound safety will chose between Florida, Florida State, Oklahoma and Texas. Harris hyperexented his knee in Dr. Phillips game last Thursday. The injury isn't severe and will only keep him out a few weeks, but Harris said it was enough for him to rethink his recruiting strategy.

[+] EnlargeMarcell Harris
Miller Safrit/ESPN.comMarcell Harris is ranked the No. 66 overall prospect in the ESPN 150.
"I took four official visits to Texas, Oklahoma, Florida State and Florida," Harris said. "I don't think there will be a fifth one with everything that's going on. My recruiting has been going pretty good. I've been talking with my coaches almost everyday. I think I'll have my decision by Nov. 16."

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jimbo Fisher got his wish, and the ACC will move forward with an eight-game conference football schedule, the league announced Wednesday.

Fisher had railed against the proposed nine-game slate, which would severely limit non-conference scheduling for teams like Florida State, Clemson and Georgia Tech, who already play an annual rivalry game against an out-of-conference foe.

With Notre Dame coming on board as a partial member of the ACC -- set to play five games a year against ACC opponents -- another wrinkle was added to the mix, making it financially problematic for member schools who want to maintain seven home games each season for revenue purposes.

[+] EnlargeDevonta Freeman
Melina Vastola/US PresswireThe matchup with Savannah State was a lowlight on the FSU schedule this season.
But while the change of course back to the current eight-game slate offers Florida State more flexibility, it also means the Seminoles will need to find at least one more opponent to fill out their 2013 schedule.

Currently FSU has non-conference games against Wofford, Nevada and Florida scheduled for next season, but losing the ninth ACC game opens up a vacancy. Meanwhile, Nevada is hoping to withdraw from its scheduled trip to Tallahassee next season and is working with Florida State to find a viable alternative opponent.

The Seminoles endured similar last-minute scheduling issues this season when West Virginia pulled out of a planned Week 2 meeting in February, forcing FSU to scramble for a replacement. The school eventually settled on Savannah State, an FCS program that won just one game last year. The game had low attendance and FSU won in a route, despite weather putting an end to the contest midway through the third quarter.

With the tepid response to the Savannah State game among fans and questions swirling about how Florida State's lackluster schedule will affect its chances at a national championship, it seems likely AD Randy Spetman will want to avoid scheduling a second FCS foe for 2013, but he said the process of filling out next year's slate is only in its infancy.

"The change in the ACC's schedule plans obviously happened very quickly over the last few days," Spetman said. "We are immediately assessing what that will mean for Florida State, but speculating about potential opponents is premature right now. It is particularly difficult to plan too far in the future without knowing where and when Notre Dame is going to fit into schedules."

The plan for Notre Dame at this point would be for each ACC team to play one home game and one road game against the Irish every six years. When and where the first of those meetings would take place for Florida State remains a mystery.

Things will be a bit simpler in basketball, where the new schedule -- which includes Notre Dame as a full member -- will be an 18-game slate that includes one game annually against every other ACC team. Each team also will play an annual home-and-home series against two partner teams, which for FSU will be Clemson and Miami.

The Big Board: The value of Notre Dame

September, 13, 2012
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The easiest way for Florida State athletics director Randy Spetman to capture the importance of the ACC's new agreement with Notre Dame was to offer an alternative.

"If you woke up this morning and read that Notre Dame had gone to the Big 12 or the Big Ten, what would you think of the ACC today?" Spetman said.

From the national branding to the name recognition to the rich history and Hollywood lore, Notre Dame brings a level of cache that the ACC didn't want to lose.

But amid all the buzz that followed the announcement that the Irish would join the ACC in all sports except football -- where they'll play five games per year -- what was largely ignored was that Notre Dame simply hasn't been a very good football program in the past two decades.

For Florida State fans, the two programs will be forever intertwined thanks to the "Game of the Century" in 1993. Notre Dame prevailed, but was felled a week later by Boston College, and in the end, it was Florida State that hoisted the national championship trophy.

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ESPN's Joe Schad and Andre Ware discuss the Orange Bowl's possible deal with the ACC.

2014 DB Dawson picks up two big offers 

June, 16, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- 2014 defensive back prospect Duke Dawson (Cross City, Fla./Dixie County) was a relatively unknown prospect heading in this week, but after a strong camp performance at Florida and Florida State, the talented cornerback has picked up offers from both schools.

The 5-foot-11, 184-pound athlete said he enjoyed his time in Gainesville earlier in the week and noted that it was different than his FSU experience.

"It was pretty good," Dawson said of his visit to Florida. "They took me around the whole school, took me on a tour, showed me some different places. It was really unique. I really liked it. I really look forward to going there again. It was different than what Florida State showed me. They looked at me like I was part of the team already."

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