Top-ranked Florida State sticking to season’s script
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida State was voted the No. 1 team in the FBS Sunday for the first time since Oct. 1, 2000. The Seminoles are heavily favored against Duke in the upcoming Atlantic Coast Conference championship game and are 60 minutes from a berth in the BCS title game.
Coach Jimbo Fisher benefited from a team with the ability to ignore outside distractions and focus on the immediate task each week. The team will stick to a script that has worked for 12 games, but there tends to be a different feel in the air when a program is considered the best in the nation.
Fisher disagreed that there’s a difference.
“Not one bit,” Fisher said Sunday afternoon.
There hasn’t been a change to the status of Heisman Trophy candidate Jameis Winston, either. The redshirt quarterback is the focus of an ongoing sexual assault investigation stemming from an incident with a female student Dec. 7, 2012. The family of the accuser issued a statement through attorney Patricia Carroll, saying Winston raped the woman. Winston’s lawyer Tim Jansen has suggested the sex between the two was consensual.
There is no definitive timetable for when a decision will be made on whether to charge the 19-year-old Winston in the case.
“It hasn’t altered (our preparation) in any way,” Fisher said. “Our team is not insulated from it. We deal with it. We address those issues.
“We control what we can control and that’s how we prepare and how we play. That’s how they go about it.”
That methodology helped Florida state (12-0) climb from a No. 11 preseason ranking as the Seminoles chased other programs all season. Clemson was the preseason favorite to win the conference and ranked No. 3 when the two teams met Oct. 19. Florida State won 51-14.
The eyes of Florida State fans turned toward then-No. 2 Oregon. The Ducks lost to Stanford 26-20 five days after the Seminoles beat Miami 41-14.
The “We want `Bama” cheers began to float out of the stands during Florida State home game after the Seminoles moved to No. 2. Then two-time defending champion Alabama lost 34-28 to No. 3 Auburn.
The regular season ended with Florida State ranked the top team in the country.
Fisher said the only thing those rankings show is their consistency.
“Hopefully we can do it one more week until the bowl season starts,” Fisher said. We’ve been able to focus and do that and not pay attention to the outside things and worry about anything.
“We can’t worry about where we’re ranked and what goes on. We just have to worry about preparing and playing and that’s all we tell our guys.”
Top 10 rankings and national championship implications were the least of the Blue Devils’ concerns. They needed a 27-25 win against North Carolina on Saturday to reach the conference championship. Florida State ranked No. 10 at the end of 2012, but Duke (10-2) hasn’t had a winning season since going 8-4 in 1994. The program has had four winless seasons during that span.
“These guys deserve more respect than what people have given them, really, overall,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “We’re not just fortunate. We’re a good football team. We wouldn’t be where we are if weren’t good.
“We were a good football team a year ago. We lost some games that got away from us. I’m very excited about what’s happening to this team because it’s going to help our program. Our guys have believed.”