TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida State Seminoles dropped from No. 1 in the AP poll after another lackluster win Saturday. Outsiders continue to question the 'Noles, who keep squeaking by opponents they are expected to trounce.
Don't lump Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson in that group.
"I see a really good football team that knows how to win," Johnson said. "Winning is hard. They've won 28 consecutive games. That's really hard to believe in this day and age.
"They've got a bunch of guys that are good athletes, they are very well-coached and they know how to win. They haven't blown as many people out as maybe a year ago, but they've still got a really fine football team. Make no mistake about that."
The No. 12 Yellow Jackets (10-2, 6-2 ACC) are the last obstacle in the way of Florida State reaching the College Football Playoffs and defending their national championship. The two teams faceoff in the ACC championship game on Saturday. The Seminoles (12-0, 8-0 ACC, No. 3 CFB) completed the first back-to-back undefeated regular seasons in school history with a 24-19 win against Florida, but a berth in the playoffs is no given. Georgia Tech has flown under the radar much of the season, but the Yellow Jackets are surging and have some major wins on their resume.
Georgia Tech has won five in a row, including a 28-6 victory against No. 19 Clemson and a 30-24 overtime win against No. 15 Georgia in the regular-season finale.
"Georgia Tech has had a tremendous year, they're really hot right now," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "Playing great football on offense, defense, special teams. ... Great win against Georgia coming into the game.
"They can move the ball. They run it, cause you a lot of problems. The option, the dive game, the quarterback game and they're throwing the ball very well. Defensively fly around the ball."
The Yellow Jackets present a unique problem with their triple-option offense. The Seminoles have held up well against run-heavy teams in Florida, Boston College and Miami, but there wasn't much deceit in their schemes. The only other time Florida State has faced a triple-option this year was against The Citadel in the second game of the year. The Bulldogs ran for 210 yards and two touchdowns and Georgia Tech has much better athletes running the system.
The Yellow Jackets have the No. 3 rush offense in the nation, averaging 334.25 yards per game. The trio of Justin Thomas, Zach Laskey and Synjyn Days have all rushed for more than 600 yards this season.
"It's a whole different perspective of how you have to defend their offensive attack," Fisher said. "It's going to have to be a complete gameplan overhaul as far as different things you do. Everybody had a certain way they play that.
"You have your plan, you know what you do. We work on those things in the offseason when you have to play teams like this and then you try to implement based on what they do."
Fisher said the team isn't doing anything special to combat the slow starts that have plagued it all season and affected their rankings. Alabama is No. 1 in the poll despite a loss to Ole Miss. Both the Crimson Tide and Oregon are one-loss teams in front of FSU in the playoff ranking.
The Seminoles have trailed in the first half of nine games, including last six in a row, but have rallied for victories each time.
"That's who we are and how we play," Fisher said. "We'll play the way we play. The game's a 60-minute game. Some of the games we've started fast. Some we haven't started as fast.
"We'll keep doing the things we do. Try to play 60 minutes as hard as we can and adjust to the game."