Wake Forest-Florida St. Preview
With a showdown with No. 3 Clemson looming in the near future, Florida State must keep its focus after escaping with a 20-19 victory over Miami that was secured on a late blocked extra point.
The No. 14 Seminoles (4-2, 1-2 ACC) will be looking to get back to even in the ACC when they host Wake Forest (5-1, 2-1) at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla. (ESPN).
Despite Wake's advantage when it comes to won-lost records, the Seminoles are heavy favorites to extend their win streak in the series to five games, but that doesn't come into play in the mid of Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher.
"Don't worry about the opponent. It ain't about the opponent, it's about us," Fisher said. "I mean, it's never about your opponent. It's always about you. That's all you can control."
Fisher has challenged his team not to let down after the emotional victory over the Hurricanes. The Seminoles have an open date after the game against Wake, then comes the home game against unbeaten Clemson.
"Who are you as a player?" Fisher said was the message he delivered to his players. "And what I mean by that, how do you want people to think of you? How do you want people to respond to you?
"You don't think they look at you really well? Well, then do the right things, and don't have relief syndrome."
The Seminoles have had their ups and downs this season, but have been explosive on offense all year behind redshirt freshman quarterback Deondre Francois.
Francois demonstrated his toughness once again in the win over Miami. After getting sidelined for a few series in the second quarter after taking a big hit late in the first, he came back and completed 10 of 11 passes in the third quarter in rallying the Seminoles from a 13-3 halftime deficit to a 17-13 lead going into the fourth quarter.
He finished the game going 20 of 31 for 234 yards and two touchdowns.
A key factor lately has been the play of running back Dalvin Cook.
After rushing for a total of just 208 yards in his first three games, he has amassed 557 on the ground in his last three. The Miami native went off against his hometown team last week with 150 yards rushing and 59 more on a touchdown reception that brought the Seminoles to within three points.
A junior who is projected to be one of the top running backs available in next year's NFL Draft if he decides to leave early, Cook has now eclipsed 300 all-purpose yards in three straight games.
He leads the nation in yards from scrimmage with 1,130 yards through six games.
Wake Forest comes into the game in the unusual position of needing just one more win to get to the six-win level for bowl eligibility. The Demon Deacons haven't made the postseason since 2011, when they finished 6-6 and lost to Mississippi State in their bowl game.
The Deacons fought off the elements last week in beating Syracuse 28-9 in rainy, windy conditions brought on by Hurricane Matthew. The way they expanded a 14-9 lead to the final margin over the last four minutes showed something to Deacons coach Dave Clawson.
"Our guys have grown up and sometimes you have to be in that situation once before, then you have success in it," Clawson said. "Last year, we played a lot of young guys and I really hope the benefit of doing that would come this year. In a lot of ways, it has."
Deacons quarterback John Wolford continues to take some physical punishment, but he has weathered it well for the most part. He has rushed for two touchdowns twice in the past three games. His 94 rushing yards in the Syracuse game marked a career high for the junior.
And there's the possibility that quarterback Kendall Hinton could be ready to return from a knee injury after missing the last 3 1/2 games. That would give the Demon Deacons more flexibility.
Running back Cade Carney's return to the offense also has provided a spark. He missed three games with a knee injury, but the freshman has eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in two of his three games.