"Coach, do you think Florida State can compete for a national championship?"
North Carolina State head coach Dave Doeren was asked this simple question following FSU's shellacking of his NC State team, 49-17, Saturday in Doak Campbell Stadium—one that most everybody knew the answer to.
But it was still refreshing to hear his answer to it.
"Yes, I said that to Jimbo afterwards, go win the whole thing. He's got a quarterback playing at a high level, their offensive line is protecting him, their receivers make plays, they have good backs, their defense is playing at a high level.
They are not missing anything ingredient-wise."
Florida State, for some reason, was put on upset alert by some on Saturday. Maybe some thought that the Seminoles would be overlooking the Wolfpack in anticipation of Miami; maybe some thought there would be a hangover following Clemson. Whatever the reason, all the warnings were all for naught as the Seminoles proved their worth as the No. 2 team in the nation.
"The emotions of coming off a big win at Clemson, I was very proud that we are learning to handle that better," said Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher. "I thought we prepared well all week."
Pushed by Fisher this week was the lesson of the emotional pain delivered by last year's crushing upset. By invoking those memories, there was no chance that FSU could have slipped up against NC State.
So you might be able to tell that FSU is kinda maybe a little still bitter over last year's game— Perry Kostidakis (@perrykos) October 26, 2013
"We had to make a statement that last week was not a fluke," said redshirt freshman Jameis Winston, who threw for three touchdowns and 292 yards, adding,"We had to show this NC State team, that had a lot of confidence coming in this game, they're a good team, but we had to show them who the better team was today."
"A lot of people said it was a revenge game but we simply just wanted to show N.C. State that they didn't have a chance last year, either," Winston said. "I mean they're a great team, but we obviously knew that last year's game hurt us and it hurt us deep because it stopped our team from potentially getting a national championship so I'm glad that the guys remembered that and bounced back strong."
The Seminoles now have a week to prepare for their second Top 10 matchup of the year, when rival No. 7 Miami and ESPN's College GameDay head to Tallahassee.
Who has the best shot of upsetting FSU this year?
“That’s what I came here for—FSU-Miami, FSU-Florida—just the big games and the big-game atmosphere, playing football for Florida State," said Winston. "We’re going to prepare the same and do everything the same, but it’s a big rivalry game so they’re going to come with it and we’ve got to come with it too.”
Until then, however, FSU can rest easy knowing it slayed its NC State demons, and further convinced people that there's a championship contender in Tallahassee.
All quotes and paraphrases were obtained either firsthand or via phone unless otherwise noted.