TALLAHASSEE (AP) — No. 1 Florida State is 60 minutes from accomplishing a feat that Bobby Bowden and the powerhouse Seminoles of the 1990s never could — putting together back-to-back undefeated regular seasons.
The light at the end of the tunnel is nearing with all of Florida State’s goals there for the taking.
“I think right now we’re at the point where it’s the big push, we’ve just got to stick to the process and stay consistent to what got us here,” FSU guard Josue Matias said. “We just can’t slack now.
“Sometimes you do think about it, but you’ve got to stay focused. You can’t lose. The main thing now is to not lose track to what we’re trying to do.”
Standing in the way Saturday is a rival Florida team with plenty of motivation. The Gators would like to send fired coach Will Muschamp out on a win and Florida was the last team to beat Florida State before it began its 27-game win streak.
“Yeah, it makes us want to end it,” Florida safety Keanu Neal said. “Every team that faces it wants to end that streak. But it’s another game, we’re just going to go out and play like they should.
“I mean, every team is beatable. No team is unbeatable.”
The Seminoles have faced heavy criticism in 2014 for not being as dominant as the 2013 title team and their late-game victories, but coach Jimbo Fisher has focused on the bottom line — wins. He understands the team is on the precipice of another school record, but won’t let players think about being a part of history.
“It’s funny, when you’re doing it, you don’t even think about it,” Fisher said. “That’s not the concern. The concern is the next game and how you prepare.
“We always talk about, hey, that was a goal we had, now we’ve got to take the next step. It’s like climbing a mountain. Got to keep that going one step at a time. … We don’t ever say undefeated. Ultimately (the goal) is National Championship. That’s always our goal here, and then we build them down, layer them down after that.”
Some things to watch Saturday when No. 1 Florida State hosts Florida:
These are the things said during Florida-Florida State week.
“I’ve always hated Florida,” FSU linebacker Reggie Northrup said. “They recruited me a little bit. They didn’t offer me and I wasn’t interested. I didn’t like Florida from the get-go, so it didn’t make a difference. I just don’t like Florida. Like their colors, just everything.”
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has shined when his team has needed him most. The reigning Heisman winner has completed 65 percent of his passes for 1,275 yards and nine touchdowns while trailing. His quarterback rating is 194.26 when behind by 15-plus points this season.
“He’s really good when he knows what he’s getting, whether it’s pressure or coverage, middle field or split safety,” Muschamp said. “I think you’ve just got to continue to change up and have creative looks that you are playing multiple things out of.”
There’s no doubt the Gators love Muschamp and will try to send their fired coach out on a high note in Tallahassee. It went that way in 2004, when former Florida coach Ron Zook won his finale at FSU and got carried off the field. Muschamp scoffed at questions about how things could unfold in Tallahassee, but left tackle D.J. Humphries said players already have talked about the possibility of hoisting Muschamp on their shoulders for a victory lap.
“He wouldn’t have no choice. We’re too strong for him,” Humphries said.
Don’t look for the underdog Gators to try anything out of the ordinary against their in-state rivals. While Florida has nothing to lose in a mostly miserable season, Muschamp believes his team is capable of pulling off the upset by sticking to the game plan and having some success. So the Gators are likely to try to run, run, run, hoping to keep Winston & Co. on the sideline, play solid defense and win a close game.
“Doing something different, that’s how things kind of fall down,” Humphries said. “We’ll play like we’ve been coached all season. That’s how we’ve been winning the games that we have won, so we’re going to keep doing that.”
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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