Syracuse-Florida St. Preview
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP)
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.