12:00 PM ET, November 9, 2013
BB&T FIELD, WINSTON-SALEM, NC
Twelve seasons have come and gone since Florida State last played for the BCS national championship, but coach Jimbo Fisher's team -- led by Heisman Trophy candidate Jameis Winston -- is making a convincing that it again belongs on college football's biggest stage come January.
Fisher just hopes the third-ranked Seminoles don't become complacent with their success before then.
Florida State looks to clinch a spot in the ACC championship game Saturday as its visits Wake Forest, which will be without its top offensive weapon.
The Seminoles (8-0, 6-0) haven't won their first nine games since winning the 1999 national championship, and they haven't appeared in the title game since falling to Oklahoma the following season.
After last week's 41-14 rout of then-No. 7 Miami, they moved up to No. 2 in the latest BCS standings behind Alabama and could be five victories away from playing at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 6.
"This is a very good football team," Fisher said. "I'll say this, I love our football team. I love our football team."
Who can blame him? Winston, the dynamic redshirt freshman, ranks second in the country with a 201.1 passer rating and has thrown for 24 touchdowns while running for three more.
When Winston threw two interceptions against the Hurricanes, the rushing attack -- second in the ACC with an average of 209.8 yards -- provided two touchdowns each from Devonta Freeman and James Wilder.
Fisher, though, praised his young quarterback, who went 12 of 14 in the second half and finished with 325 yards and a touchdown.
"I thought it was a huge growing (experience) for him," Fisher said. "He dealt with some adversity, came back very calmly and managed the game."
Defensively, Florida State ranks second in the conference, allowing 287.6 yards per game, and pitched a shutout in the second half last week. It has outscored its three ranked opponents -- then-No. 25 Maryland, then-No. 3 Clemson and Miami -- 155-28 while forcing seven turnovers.
None of that success, though, means much if the Seminoles don't remain focused. They can wrap up the ACC Atlantic Division with a victory Saturday against a Wake Forest team that's a five-touchdown underdog.
"It's up to (the team leadership) to make sure we understand the importance of every game," Fisher said. "Hopefully we've gotten that across, and we're going to practice the same way for every game no matter who (the opponent) is."
The Demon Deacons (4-5, 2-4) nearly upset Miami on Oct. 26 before allowing a touchdown with 53 seconds remaining in a 24-21 loss, but they set a season low with 198 total yards in a 13-0 loss to Syracuse last week.
The biggest blow came when leading wide receiver Michael Campanaro suffered a broken collarbone in the first quarter, and he's expected to miss 4-6 weeks -- possibly marking the end of the senior's college career.
Campanaro is tied for fifth in the nation with 67 receptions, and he's third in ACC history with 227 career catches.
"He's the guy we go to and when he's out, it makes it tough," coach Jim Grobe said. "Going forward without Camp, somebody's got to decide if they want to be that guy."
Sherman Ragland replaced Campanaro and caught 10 passes for 91 yards, though Grobe said Ragland made some mental mistakes.
"He's someone that these next few weeks I'm going to have to work with," Campanaro said. "He's got all the talent and all the capability."
The Wake Forest defense also will face a tough challenge, having allowed 407.4 yards per game over its last seven. The Seminoles average 51.1 points, third in FBS.
"Whenever you play Florida State it's going to be a big game, whether they are No. 2 in the country or whether they're having a down year," defensive end Kristopher Redding said. "We've always been underdogs in the game."
The Seminoles have won three of the last four meetings, falling 35-30 in their last visit to Winston-Salem on Oct. 8, 2011. Florida State won last season's matchup 52-0.
Top 25 Overview
Two years ago, Florida State went to Winston-Salem bruised and battered and suffered its third straight loss. In the 30 games since, the Seminoles are 27-3, and Jimbo Fisher's program is now in the final push for an undefeated regular season. After two wins over top-10 teams in the last three weeks, the biggest question for FSU is probably focus. For Wake Forest, meanwhile, Jim Grobe will have to reinvent his offense again after losing star receiver Michael Campanaro to a broken collarbone last week.
|Avg Points Allowed||12.0||23.8|
Jameis Winston continues to be almost perfect when forced to convert on 3rd down this season... A Next Level look shows that Winston's Total QBR of 99.6 on 3rd down this season stands as the highest single-season mark in such situations over the last 10 years.[+]
As of the 11-minute mark in the 2nd quarter, Florida State has already scored 28 pts off turnovers at Wake Forest... It's the most by Florida State in a single half (1st or 2nd) over the last 10 seasons. Entering today, the most by an FBS team in 2013 is 43 by Tennessee against Western Kentucky in the 1st half on Sept. 7th.
From Elias: Both Baylor and Florida State have outscored their opponents by at least 40 points per game this season (Baylor: 45.6 PPG, Florida State: 40.0 PPG). FROM ELIAS: The last team to outscore its opponents by at least 40 PPG over an entire season was Oklahoma in 1956, at 41.5 PPG(466-51 in 10 games).
FSU has 4 straight games with multiple interceptions. They entered the game tied with North Texas and TCU for the longest active streak in the FBS.
Wake Forest's Tanner Price went 1-4 with 3 interceptions today against Florida State. He is the 2nd player since 2000 to throw for 3 or more interceptions on 5 or fewer pass attempts. The other player was UConn's Zach Frazer, who went 0-4 with 3 interceptions against Pittsburgh in 2008.
Florida State scored 42 points in the first half of their game at Wake Forest today. It is the 2nd time this season that the Seminoles have scored 40 or more points in the first half (also had 42 in 1st half vs NC State Oct. 26). In addition, Florida State has averaged 28.3 PPG in 1st half this season - only Baylor (39.9), Ohio State (31.3) and Oregon (28.6) currently have higher 1st half scoring averages among FBS teams.
This is the 6th time in their 32 meetings vs Wake Forest that Florida State has put up 50+ pts in a game (2nd time in Winston-Salem):[+]
Florida State Most Pts In A Game vs Wake Forest
Jameis Winston now has 26 pass TD, setting the ACC freshman Pass TD record. It was previously set by Philip Rivers in 2000 (25).
FSU has 2 defensive touchdowns in a game for the 2nd time in the last 10 seasons, and 1st time since Dec 27, 2008 vs Wisconsin when they had 2 fumble ret TD
Florida State is the only team in last 10 seasons to have two 42-0 shutouts in the 1st half of a conference game in a season
Florida State held Wake Forest's three quarterbacks to a combined 0.001 Total QBR. All three quarterbacks had a Total QBR of 0.6 or lower as they combined for seven completions and six interceptions. In the last 10 seasons, no team has had a lower Total QBR in a game than Wake Forest.[+]
Lowest Total QBR
ESPN Stats & Information