Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Sports

FSU out for respect, ranking

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State would like nothing better than to win respect at the hands of rival Florida this weekend.

While both teams have one loss, the Gators are No. 6 in the media poll while the Seminoles are four spots lower at No. 10. The difference, apparently, is the teams they've played.

The Gators, whose lone loss is to No. 3 Georgia, will be hunting for their third win this season over a top 10 team. Florida (10-1, 7-1 SEC) defeated LSU at home and won at Texas A&M, one of its three SEC road wins.

Florida State (10-1, 7-1 ACC) has a marquee win over 12th-ranked Clemson while suffering its lone loss on the road at North Carolina State, which has lost five games and surrendered 62 points last week at Clemson.

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said his team doesn't need to worry about anything other than Florida.

"It's nothing about the BCS or rankings or anything else," Fisher said. "To play, compete and do well against Florida … that's our sole purpose."

Fisher was more than a bit steamed last week at the way his team has been evaluated by the computers that figure into the BCS rankings. The computers give a low grade to the Seminoles' body of work, which includes wins over lower-division Savannah State and Murray State from Division I-AA.

"We can't control what the computers are doing or what they have to say about Florida State," senior receiver Rodney Smith said. "You hear people talk about it around the team that they feel it's disrespectful."

But, Smith added, they can quiet at least some doubters Saturday.

"We just have to keep playing football and beat the next person that's in front of us," he said. "If Florida so happens to be that team, we have to beat those guys."

Florida, meanwhile, looks to snap a two-game losing streak in the series. They've been outscored 52-14 in those defeats.

"Obviously we haven't come up with the 'W' the past two years," Florida linebacker Jonathan Bostic said. "But it's another year, so we're going to go in, preparing the best we can and try to come out with the 'W'."

Although Florida has struggled on offense, it's a far different team than the one that showed up last year.

"Night and day," Gators coach Will Muschamp said when asked to compare this year's model with the 2011 one. "Offense, defense, special teams, coaching staff are all included."

The Gators have gone 11-1 since last year's loss to Florida State, starting with a bowl victory over Ohio State. A 17-9 loss to Georgia in the annual showdown in Jacksonville last month is the only slip-up.

Fisher's teams are already 3-0 against Miami and would love to be the same against the Gators.

And for some reason the Seminoles seem to perform better in the big games, with wins over not only their top rivals but Notre Dame and South Carolina since Fisher's arrival. They've also lost to heavy underdogs such as Wake Forest and Virginia last season and another at N.C. State last month that may have destroyed any chances for FSU getting to the national championship game.

But that's all forgotten for a few hours Saturday.

"We want to finish strong," FSU quarterback EJ Manuel said. "We don't want to come all this way and let up at the end."

Manuel has a chance to join Charlie Ward, Chris Weinke and Chris Rix as starting Seminole quarterbacks with successive wins over the Gators during the past 20 years. And while Manuel is unlikely to win the Heisman Trophy like Ward and Weinke did, he'd be satisfied just the same. And while he didn't say it, maybe win more respect for his team.

"It will be a great opportunity," he said.

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Published: 04/23/18