Top-ranked Florida State is not as dominant as the 2013 Seminoles that swarmed opponents en route to a national championship. Ten games have proven the 2014 roster is unlikely to mimic that record-breaking level of play, but these 'Noles have pushed through new tests almost on a weekly basis.
The Seminoles remain the only undefeated team from a Power 5 conference after using all 60 minutes to get past Boston College 20-17 Saturday. Now Florida State faces Florida in a regular-season finale that carries the emotion of a fierce rivalry, plus the added variable of being coach Will Muschamp's final game as the head of the Gators.
"We're going into battle," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "These games are going to be dogfights. People are going to try and be the one that knocks us out, knocks us off, got nothing to lose.
"Every time you're in those situations you learn."
Florida State (11-0, 8-0 ACC, No. 3 CFP) has been criticized all season for the manner in which it continues to win games. A 43-3 win against Wake Forest has been the only 20-point win against a FBS team. The Seminoles have trailed in the second half against five teams and needed a field goal with three seconds remaining to defeat Boston College. Louisville jumped out to a 21-0 lead, N.C. State led 24-7, Clemson pushed FSU to overtime and Notre Dame had a game-winning touchdown called back in the final moments because of a penalty.
That's why two one-loss teams are ahead of Florida State in the College Football Playoff rankings even though FSU has won 26 consecutive games.
"We know we have to go out there and execute, you know, try to ruin their little Cinderella thing, Shrek or whatever it is," Florida linebacker Michael Taylor said.
Fisher has won 3 of 4 games against Florida since he took over the program. The loss was the last time the Seminoles have lost period.
"Yeah, we're going to end that," Florida defensive end Alex McCalister said about the winning streak. "Don't worry about that."
Fisher has been adamant that he's not concerned about the playoff rankings and that Florida State will be right where it needs to be as long as they continue to win. But he's continually questioned about the manner in which the Seminoles win and the chances of dropping outside of the top four. A perfect Florida State team is ranked No. 3, so a one-loss FSU could certainly fall out of the playoffs.
"We're undefeated. We finish every game," Fisher said. "Everybody else in the country has not finished at least one game. We've finished every one of them.
"Isn't that the object?"
The Gators (6-4) have won 3 of 4 including an upset of No. 9 Georgia. Athletic director Jeremy Foley fired Muschamp last week, who agreed to coach the final two games. Florida is bowl eligible, but it finished 4-8 in 2013 and missed the postseason for the first time since 1990.
"Obviously it's going to be a different atmosphere for the Gators," FSU quarterback Jameis Winston said. "They beat Georgia, so they feel like they can beat anybody, and we're going to be ready. We're going to be prepared."
FSU center Cam Erving added, "It's a rivalry. It brings out the nastiness in each team."
AP Sports Writer Mark Long contributed to this report.