For some folks, it has probably felt more like an eternity than just a few years since the Florida State Seminoles have been relevant in the ACC.
Count coach Bobby Bowden in that group.
But a 30-20 come-from-behind win against Virginia Tech on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium, coupled with Wake Forest's loss at Miami, has put his Seminoles in control of their own fortunes in the Atlantic Division and the race for a spot in the ACC title game Dec. 6 at Raymond James Stadium.
The No. 24-ranked Seminoles (6-1, 3-1) haven't been in this prime of a position in the league since the 2005 season.
"When we lost to Wake Forest, it looked like there was no chance to win our division because if they happen to lose a game, which we didn't think they would, then the fact that they beat us head-to-head they would be the (division) champion," he said. "But all of a sudden they lost one; all of a sudden they lost another, so that put us back in where if we could win out, we could win our division. But every game gets tougher."
Not that this one against the Hokies (5-3, 2-2) wasn't tough.
It was, even after Virginia Tech lost dual-threat sophomore quarterback Tyrod Taylor to a sprained left ankle on the first play from scrimmage and then fifth-year senior Sean Glennon to a left leg injury in the third quarter that forced seldom-used senior Cory Holt into action.
"I don't think we're back yet," Bowden said. "Virginia Tech comes in here and loses its first- and second-team quarterback. I don't think you can say we're back yet. All you can say is we're playing close and we're winning close, despite whatever happens."
- Like having to scrap a defensive game plan designed to stop Taylor, then having to adjust to a better passer in Glennon and finally someone they knew nothing about. Tech had 38 yards of offense in the second half.
- Like having to kick-start an offense that had minus-18 yards in the first quarter and trailed 10-0. The Seminoles finished with just 248 yards, far below their average of 419.0, but the Hokies allowed only Nebraska to score as many as FSU.
- Like having to answer a comeback bid by the Hokies in the fourth quarter with a drive that lasted 6:06 and culminated with Graham Gano's third field goal.
"The biggest thing for us right now is our attitude," said redshirt sophomore quarterback Christian Ponder, who made his college debut in last year's loss at Blacksburg. "We have a great attitude. It shows when you're able to finish drives and come up with big plays at certain points of the game."
- Like senior tailback Antone Smith sprinting down the left sideline thanks to a block by fullback Marcus Sims for a 39-yard touchdown to tie the score at 10.
- Like Ponder hitting senior receiver Greg Carr for 48 yards one play after Hokies freshman Eddie Whitely roughed Gano on a punt. Ponder capped that drive with a 4-yard touchdown to redshirt freshman receiver Taiwan Easterling, who made an acrobatic catch between two of Tech's top defensive players, linebacker Cam Martin and safety Kam Chancellor. That play gave FSU a 17-13 lead.
- Like Sims, elevated to the main running back when Smith and freshman Jermaine Thomas went out, scored on a 1-yard plunge for his second career touchdown for a 24-13 lead.
"We focus on being one big team, one big unit," said senior linebacker Toddrick Verdell, who had seven tackles, two for a lossand a sack. "We're just playing together."
"It feels good," Carr said of his team's position. "But we also know we've got work to do, so we can't be satisfied with 6-1 just because we haven't been 6-1 for a while. We have to be happy for the moment and just get ready for Georgia Tech. We control our own destiny, but we have to continue playing football like we're capable of playing if we want that destiny to turn out good."
Brian Landman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FLORIDA STATE 30, VIRGINIA TECH 20
.The Seminoles rallied after falling behind 10-0, knocking the Hokies' top two quarterbacks out of the game and controlling their fortunes in the division when Wake Forest lost to Miami. FSU hasn't been in such a strong ACC situation since 2005. "The biggest thing for us right now is our attitude," quarterback Christian Ponder said. When Virginia Tech got within a touchdown, Ponder led a drive that lasted 6:06 and culminated in Graham Gano's clinching field goal. 7C