Syracuse-Florida St. Preview

For the first time all season, Florida State controls its own
destiny. And quarterback Jameis Winston will continue to lead the
Seminoles despite being under investigation for an alleged sexual
assault in December 2012.

Florida State and Winston’s attorney confirmed Wednesday the
investigation by the Tallahassee Police Department. Police
officials refused to answer questions about the investigation.

Attorney Timothy Jansen said Winston hasn’t yet been interviewed
by police. He denied his client had done anything wrong.

Jansen said he hoped the case will be resolved quickly and that
“Winston will be exonerated and he will be able to focus all his
attention on academics and football.”

University officials said they couldn’t comment because the
investigation was not closed. The school also said there was no
change in Winston’s status for the No. 2 Seminoles’ home game
Saturday against Syracuse.

The Seminoles are undefeated, ranked second in the Top 25 and
BCS standings, and have earned a berth in the ACC championship
game. Florida State will play in its first BCS championship game if
it wins its final four games and will be significant favorites in
all of them.

The last time the Seminoles won the national title was in
1999.

“I don’t think about it, I don’t have to. Everybody else tells
you,” coach Jimbo Fisher said. “I try to stay in the moment, live
in the moment. … I have enough problems with Syracuse right
now.”

The Seminoles (9-0, 7-0) got the help they needed when then-No.
2 Oregon lost 26-20 to Stanford last Thursday, and they went out
and won 59-3 at Wake Forest two days later.

Running back Karlos Williams was quick to follow his coach and
say the team doesn’t pay attention to the hoopla surrounding the
constantly fluctuating polls. Fisher has termed conversations about
all the what-if scenarios “clutter” and outside distractions.

Top-ranked Alabama and Oregon are clutter. The BCS standings are
clutter. The ACC championship is clutter.

Fisher and the Seminoles say all that matters is Syracuse (5-4,
3-2) on Saturday.

Williams, however, admitted he has alerts set on his phone.

“I’ve got the college football app, the ESPN app, of course,”
Williams said. “By the time it happens, it pops on my phone. BCS
standings came on. I was up here for study hall and went home. By
the time I walked in the back door, my girlfriend’s watching it and
my son’s looking at the TV.

“It’s something that you always look at and pay attention to. It
definitely feels good to be No. 2. It feels good to be back up
there where you’re used to seeing that Seminole head.”

Williams explained that the standings and rankings mean
something, but he has to keep those thoughts in the back of his
mind.

Safety Terrence Brooks simply said, “You win all your games, you
should be in a good position. That’s really what I’m focused
on.”

Alabama finishes the season with Mississippi State, Chattanooga
and No. 7 Auburn, and the Crimson Tide would face the Eastern
Division champion – likely a Top 25 opponent – in the SEC
championship.

That leaves No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Baylor as the other two
undefeated programs with a chance to play in Pasadena on Jan. 6.
The Buckeyes close with Illinois, Indiana and Michigan and should
go into the Big Ten title game without a loss because they may not
play another ranked team before a bowl game.

The Bears have the toughest remaining schedule of the three with
Texas Tech, No. 12 Oklahoma State, TCU and No. 23 Texas, but
probably need losses from two of the top three to reach the
championship game.

Fisher has been able to keep his team focused on the moment in
high-profile games against then-No. 3 Clemson and then-No. 7 Miami.
The regular-season finale at Florida will command that kind of
national attention as an intrastate rival from the SEC, despite its
losing record.

In the end, Florida State has the easiest path to the BCS
championship game with three games remaining against teams with a
combined 10-18 record. The Seminoles would be crowned ACC champions
for a second consecutive season with a win against the Coastal
Division representative Dec. 7 in Charlotte.

Fisher has already been asked to compare the 2013 team to the
1993 champion Seminoles.

“I don’t ever reflect on a team till the season’s over and it’s
written and it does what it does,” Fisher said. “We’ve got a lot of
work between now and then.”

Winston was 17 of 28 for 159 yards with two touchdowns and an
interception last weekend – and he didn’t need to do much more, not
with his supporting cast making so many plays.

Florida State tied a school record with six interceptions,
returned turnovers for touchdowns on consecutive plays and gave the
offense short fields throughout the rout.

“They’re so fast to the ball,” Winston said. “For them to create
turnovers the way that they do and … the way they give us the
ball so fast, that’s how you have a great team. They say defense
wins championships.”

Syracuse’s defense has bounced back, holding opponents to a
combined three points in consecutive wins following a 56-0 loss at
Georgia Tech on Oct. 19.

“There were a lot of doubters out there, but we never doubted
ourselves,” coach Scott Shafter said after last Saturday’s 20-3 win
at Maryland. “We got beat by a good Georgia Tech team a month ago.
I’m so pleased … I love the way they’re hitting.”

Florida State has won the last five meetings in the series after
Syracuse won the first matchup.