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ACC Championship Game: Florida State vs. Duke

6:38 PM, Dec 7, 2013   |    comments
  • Duke Florida State for ACC Football Championship (Photo: theacc.com)
    
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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.

Maybe's 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.

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"Kind 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.

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"We 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).

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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.

"Lines 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.

When 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."

"That's 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 this magnitude.

"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."

Click on ACC for more.

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