So Florida State is fresh off a statement win against Clemson - and here comes N.C. State. Déjà vu, anyone?
FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said he already made a point to bring up last year's 17-16 loss in Raleigh, a loss that derailed FSU's hopes of getting back into the national championship picture.
"Feel that pain," Fisher said. "Pain is preparation. You want that pain again? Don't prepare. You want to eliminate that pain? Prepare and take care of business."
So far in 2013, Florida State has been able to avoid the head-scratching losses that plagued recent teams. But now, with a No. 2 BCS ranking and fresh off a curb-stomping of Clemson that vaulted FSU into the limelight, comes yet another gamut of ACC foes that are, at least on paper, wildly outmatched against FSU. The line for Saturday's game against N.C. State is bordering on 30 points.
Those are exactly the types of games FSU has struggled with in previous years. At Wake Forest in 2009, at home to Virginia in 2011, at North Carolina State in 2010 and 2012, FSU lost to teams it was heavily favored against. North Carolina State has been the most consistent spoiler for FSU: the Seminoles have played NCSU four times as a ranked team when NCSU is unranked - and lost all four times.
But Fisher has been adamant so far this season that Florida State is finally capable of avoiding those types of losses. He said his confidence comes from watching this year's roster mature.
"You guys want a window dressing sometimes for a solid answer but sometimes the facts are the facts," Fisher said. "It's experience. We had a sophomore offense last year. We still have a junior offense, but guys are older.
Guys understand what's going on. The thing is consistency. I say it all the time."
Florida State's players seem to agree. The fans hadn't cleared the field at Clemson's Memorial Stadium and the scoreboard hadn't even been turned off when Terrance Brooks was already talking about the next opponent:
"We haven't done anything," Brooks said. "It's just another game. I mean we still got to prepare next week the same way and plan on doing N.C. State the same way."
The game against NCSU last season still resonates in a particularly painful way with FSU players. Brooks said he had flashbacks to that game when FSU struggled late against Boston College and almost let the Eagles back into the game. This week's NC State install playbook had a photo of the final, game-losing defensive play on the cover, just for added emphasis.
That Florida State was able to win in Boston, against an overachieving but scrappy opponent on the road, was a powerful early statement that maybe FSU's trap-game woes are behind it. Further evidence will come against NC State and the rest of the ACC's Atlantic Division.
And while this weekend's game is bracketed between the emotional hangover of a win against Clemson and another potential top-10 matchup against Miami, the much-anticipated return of Bobby Bowden adds a bit of extra excitement and focus to Saturday's game.
"I don't think any of those things hurt," Fisher said. "It's how you handle it. But at the same time you've got to makes sure your players know it's about coach Bowden and him, not about them. Again I think it's another growing stage for our program to learn how to handle things."
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