No. 3 Florida St has easy road ahead next 3 weeks

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 1/2-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.”