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FSU continues push toward Pasadena

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) - No. 2 Florida State knows its offense can score.

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Turns out the defense and special teams can, too.

Points are coming from everywhere for the Seminoles these days, and that's a big reason why they've sewed up a spot in one championship game and kept themselves on track to reach a much bigger one.

''I really hope that we just keep doing what we're doing,'' quarterback Jameis Winston said, ''because the way that we're playing right now, we're playing like a championship team.''

It's tough to argue otherwise.

The Seminoles (9-0, 7-0) took care of the formality of clinching a berth in the ACC title game, scoring three non_offensive touchdowns in a 59-3 rout of mistake-prone Wake Forest on Saturday.

In the process, they moved up to a spot in the Top 25 and kept themselves in line to play for the BCS championship.

The league title game berth prompted ''a little excitement in the locker room,'' defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. said, ''but our goals are much higher than that.''

The defense set the tone by producing scores on consecutive snaps - and forcing a season-best seven turnovers. A kickoff-return unit that was barely needed on this day added a late touchdown.

Taken together, it became even clearer that these Seminoles have all the pieces necessary to contend for a championship.

''I don't think there's any question, from my standpoint, in 13 years, this is the best (team) we've faced,'' Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said.

Nate Andrews had two interceptions, returning one 56 yards for a touchdown one snap before he forced the fumble that fellow freshman Jalen Ramsey returned 23 yards for another score.

In matching the school record of six picks set against Louisville in 1991, the Seminoles had 107 yards in interception return yardage - or just 59 fewer yards than the entire Wake Forest offense managed.

Of Florida State's five offensive touchdown drives, three covered 15 or fewer yards and lasted no more than two plays.

That's why it wasn't a big deal that the Seminoles finished with just 296 total yards - well off their ACC-leading average of 549.

Winston was 17 of 28 for 159 yards with two touchdowns and an interception - and didn't need to do much more, not with his supporting cast making so many plays.

''They're so fast to the ball,'' Winston said. ''For them to create turnovers the way that they do and ... the way they give us the ball so fast, that's how you have a great team. They say defense wins championships.''

It would be easy for the Seminoles to start mentally packing their bags for Southern California and the BCS title game.

They've scored at least 41 points in every game. Only Boston College has kept it within two touchdowns or scored more than 17 points against them.

And none of Florida State's three remaining regular-season opponents - Syracuse, Idaho and Florida - began the weekend with a winning record.

And before the Seminoles settled in Winston-Salem for this game, they knew they had control of their BCS fortunes after then-No. 2 Oregon lost Thursday night.

They didn't show any signs of a letdown against the Demon Deacons (4-6, 2-5), and now the challenge is to bring that same level of focus the rest of the way.

The loss by the Ducks ''was talked about a little bit,'' Edwards said. ''But (coach Jimbo Fisher) just said, `That's part of the clutter.' We have to get rid of that.''

And all of a sudden, their path to Pasadena has a lot less clutter, too.

---

Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joedyap

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
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