Nicole Auerbach, USA Today Sports
CHARLOTTE - Almost surprisingly, there hasn't been a ton of buzz about Florida State being the nation's top-ranked team.
it's because of the way Alabama lost its stranglehold on the No. 1
ranking - the impossible-to-describe Kick Six - or the investigation
into Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, which ended Thursday. But
either way, the Seminoles' return to the top was seemingly pushed to
the back burner.
ON THE RISE: Duke clears its own path
of makes it peaceful," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said Friday.
"We're happy to be where we're at, but we also know that we're not
thinking about that right now. What we're thinking about is running
through the finish line. When you run the 100-meter dash, being No. 1 at
the 90-meter mark doesn't mean anything.
WINSTON: Fla. State QB showed maturity
have to keep our form, stay true to form and the way we practice and
prepare I think we will, and be able to run through the finish line to
be No. 1 at the end."
Two games stand in the way of that. The
first comes Saturday against No. 20 Duke in the ACC championship game.
Considering how media and fan attention has already turned to the
Seminoles' chances in the BCS title game - and how lopsided all of
Florida State's wins have been this season - it's easy to presume that
the Seminoles might overlook the Blue Devils, who are traditionally not a
football power (to say the least).
BIG 12: Much remains undecided
But Fisher said that's not the case, and if his team can't get focused on winning a conference championship, "we have an issue."
Undefeated Florida State is heavily favored against Duke (10-2), a 29-point favorite according to Bovada.
don't mean anything," Fisher said. "At the beginning of the game the
score is 0-0. Every day it's 0-0. You have to win today. You have to win
the game. You have to do the things you have to do, and it's not about
our opponent - and no disrespect - it's about how prepare and how we
play and how we approach things. That's been our motto all year: to take
care of our own business, control what we can control. It's how we play
and how we think, and we want to play from the first play to the last
play, we want to get better as the game goes on and want to play every
play as if it's our last one."
Duke coach David Cutcliffe isn't
wrapped up in betting lines or outside perception, either. He's
realistic - he admits his team will have to play "extremely well" to
have a chance to upset Florida State - but he's not discouraged.
asked about being a 29-point underdog, Cutcliffe said he didn't mind,
"as long as it's not the people on our team predicting that."
the key to that, and I don't think any of our guys are putting us down
as 29-point underdogs," Cutcliffe said. "We have smart guys, as you
might imagine, and they're very aware of the challenge. ... The week
started off on Sunday with me telling them the truth. I had seen a lot
of Florida State by then. I told them the obvious, but I also told them
now the only thing we can do is, the quality of our preparation has to
match what the quality of our play needs to be to compete with a team of
"They've done all year what we've asked them to
do. I thought our preparation each day this week was special. Hopefully
we can follow up with playing at a high level."
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