The program must stay focused in order to achieve their goals
After an impressive display on national television, beating ACC rival Clemson 49-37, the Florida State Seminoles remain at No. 4 in both the AP and Coaches Polls.
While Seminole fans may take this as a slight, they should look at it as a blessing in disguise.
After Saturday's victory, nobody can logically dispute the legitimacy of this team. What they can still question, however, is whether they will play down to the competition from week to week.
By being "disrespected" in this week's polls, they have been given something to prove. Right now, America looks at Florida State as the fourth best team in college football. It is doubtful that anyone in the Florida State locker room sees it that way.
As it stands, Alabama, Oregon and LSU all are considered more dominant than FSU, with Georgia not too far behind in some polls.
This provides the perfect ammunition for the Seminoles to avoid any speed bumps that they may run into on their way to Miami (not for the Hurricane game, that would be one of the "speed bumps").
It is likely that Florida State will be a heavy favorite going in to every game on their schedule until they take on Florida over Thanksgiving weekend. More importantly, Florida State is unlikely to be on a national stage until they head to Blacksburg, to face Virginia Tech on a Thursday night in early November.
Yes they will probably be on ESPN or ABC every week for the rest of the year, but the games will become footnotes of the nation's landscape every weekend; that is unless they lose.
The Seminoles may have very well looked the best they have in years last Saturday. They may have been the best we have seen from the garnet and gold since Jimbo Fisher became the CEO of the program. But they haven't yet gotten past what is perhaps their toughest test—winning games they should win easily.
Since 2002, Florida State teams have lost games to several unranked teams. Those programs were Louisville, Clemson, Maryland, North Carolina State, Boston College, Wake Forest, Miami, Virginia Tech, Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and this week's opponent, South Florida.
Of the 11 other teams in the ACC, Duke is the only program that has not beaten a Florida State team in the last 10 years. This coming from the same program that either won or shared the ACC Championship the 10 years previous.
Most of these unexpected losses have come either right before or immediately following a high profile game. And often times one loss has turned into two or three. If the Seminoles truly intend on contending for national championships, they must reinvent the culture and take on every game as a serious challenge, whether College Gameday is there or not.
In the past, South Florida would be the exact game Florida State would look past; a non-conference game, on the road against a team which just lost two in a row, including last week to Ball State.
In a perfect world Florida State would come out fired up with a chip on their shoulder due to people not believing in them. They would build a heavy lead in the first half, beefing up the public perception of the program, getting young players some live reps and move on to preparations for North Carolina State.
In an imperfect world (which Florida State fans have lived in over the past 10 years), the Seminoles would come out flat, believing the hype of how good they are and how they have Heisman hopefuls and All-Americans to be; struggle mightily and either lose or sneak out with a narrow victory, losing some valuable players to injury late in the game as a result.
If the talk from the coaches and players this week is any indication, the culture has reverted back to what it once was. However, this can only be proven on Saturday, when the team takes the field at Raymond James Stadium.
Needless to say, times have changed in Tallahassee over the past ten years and uncertainty is a regular occurrence. Perhaps though, things are cyclical and there is a bright decade on the horizon.