After suffering its first loss in stunning fashion, Florida State may have to settle for trying to win the ACC Atlantic Division instead of getting a shot at the BCS title.
Having fallen nine spots in the Top 25 following last weekend's upset, the No. 12 Seminoles look to bounce back against struggling Boston College on Saturday.
With a chance to move to 6-0 for the first time since a 12-0 start in 1999 that led to the program's last national title, Florida State (5-1, 2-1) fell 17-16 to North Carolina State last Saturday. The Seminoles, who entered the game with their highest ranking since 2003, were outscored 17-0 in the second half.
"This was a tough loss, a heartbreaking loss,'' said coach Jimbo Fisher, who's come under scrutiny this week for two fourth-quarter offensive calls that may have cost Florida State a shot at winning. "We have to forget it and move on. This team isn't like last year. We have to regroup and move on.''
Fisher has to be hoping his team responds better than it did after its first defeat last season, 23-13 to then-No. 1 Oklahoma that started a three-game slide.
Boston College coach Frank Spaziani won't speculate on how the Seminoles will react to the loss, but he's definitely not underestimating an opponent that has won its home games by a 225-40 score.
"Despite what happened last night to them, they have a bevy of football players," Spaziani said Sunday. "It's a very good football team. ... we have to prepare like we do every week for everybody's 'A' game."
The Seminoles offense wasn't at its best last week as two first-half drives into the red zone ended with field goals from Dustin Hopkins, who needs seven points to become the all-time ACC leader with 394.
Florida State, 14th in the nation with 510.8 yards per game, finished with a season-low 343. EJ Manuel was sacked a season-high four times and threw for 218 yards.
"When you're moving the ball and getting field goals when you needed touchdowns, you have to go out and know you need touchdowns in the red zone,'' Manuel said. "We have to be better on that next week.''
For Manuel and his teammates, winning the division crown is now the likely focus. Florida State is tied with Clemson in the Atlantic, with Maryland at 1-0 in the league.
The Seminoles, seventh in the FBS with 45.2 points per game, will face an Eagles team that's allowed 101 points and 1,731 yards during a three-game losing streak.
Boston College yielded a season-high 595 yards - 516 on the ground - in a 34-31 loss at Army on Saturday.
"Looking at what has happened the last couple weeks, I think we've been in the right place. We just haven't been able to execute," Spaziani said. " ... There's nobody erasing the mistakes and making some big plays."
The Eagles are giving up 259.0 yards per game on the ground, and they'll face a Florida State rushing attack that's averaging 238.5. The Seminoles are led by senior Chris Thompson, who's run for 572 yards and has surpassed the 100-yard mark in three of the last four games.
The Seminoles are equally adept at stopping the run, allowing 71.3 yards a contest on the ground, and they'll be tasked with shutting down Andre Williams this week. The junior rushed for a career-best 191 yards and two TDs against Army.
Boston College's Chase Rettig leads a passing attack that's 16th in the country with 311.8 yards per contest.
The Seminoles held the Eagles to 94 rushing yards in a 38-7 road victory Nov. 3 that clinched their NCAA-best 30th straight bowl appearance. Boston College was knocked out of bowl contention for the first time since 1998 with the defeat.
The Eagles have lost seven straight to ranked opponents since a 27-17 victory at then-No. 20 Florida State on Nov. 15, 2008. The Seminoles have taken two in a row in the series.