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Florida State Seminoles got their challenges but met them

TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 20:  Jameis Winston #5 of the Florida State Seminoles runs on the field to celebrate the overtime win against the Clemson Tigers at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 20, 2014 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) 504595393
TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 20: Jameis Winston #5 of the Florida State Seminoles runs on the field to celebrate the overtime win against the Clemson Tigers at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 20, 2014 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) 504595393
Published Sep. 22, 2014

TALLAHASSEE — After rolling through the 2013 regular season with a dozen double-digit victories, No. 1 Florida State wanted to face some challenges in its quest to repeat as national champion.

"That's one of the things we worked on and wanted to do was face adversity and overcome it," defensive tackle Eddie Goldman said.

The Seminoles faced plenty — some self-inflicted, some not — during Saturday's 23-17 overtime win over Clemson.

Start with the obvious: the lack of Jameis Winston.

FSU planned as if the reigning Heisman Trophy winning quarterback would miss only a half for making obscene comments. But Friday, the school extended the suspension to cover the whole game, forcing the Seminoles to revamp their strategy for four quarters with Sean Maguire.

"It was a lot of work we had to do late, late Friday night and early, early Saturday," coach Jimbo Fisher said.

Winston still made his presence felt, providing guidance such as finding tight end Nick O'Leary and receiver Rashad Greene

After having only 29 receiving yards in the first half, Greene and O'Leary combined for 184 in the second. Greene's nine catches moved him into third in school history, his nine 100-yard games tied for fifth.

"It was a great feeling to be able to win without (Winston)," Greene said. "It just says a lot."

Fisher acknowledged distractions played a role in FSU's performance, and he tried to put some of them to rest by saying Winston will be the No. 1 quarterback at practice today.

He also said FSU corrected Winston's decision to dress out for pregame warmups — a move Winston made "because he loves his teammates," Fisher said.

The Seminoles' obstacles piled up beyond Winston.

They gave up more than 300 passing yards for the first time in 39 games. FSU played the second half without standout end Mario Edwards. He had three tackles and a quarterback hurry before leaving the game with a concussion.

FSU didn't miss a beat. One of Edwards' replacements, Chris Casher, helped stuff a fourth-down run in overtime.

"It says we got fight in us," cornerback Ronald Darby said.

The fight was rewarded Sunday, when FSU stayed atop the Associated Press Top 25 poll. It also controls the ACC's Atlantic Division — and, perhaps, a spot in the inaugural four-team playoff.

"It was a tough week," Fisher said. "We're ready to move on."

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.