No. 2 Florida State hosts Syracuse in ACC action

KAREEM COPELAND (Associated Press)
The Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles have talked about the investigation of quarterback Jameis Winston for an alleged sexual but will try to not let it disrupt their season.

On Saturday, they'll try to push the investigation aside for a few more hours when they host Syracuse Orange (5-4, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference). The oddsmakers don't believe that will be a problem, the Orange are 37 1/2 -point underdogs.

The allegation from Dec. 7, 2012 against Winston became public this week and there have been few answers to numerous questions surrounding the ongoing.

On Saturday, Florida State will try to turn its entire focus to football.

Syracuse will try to pound the Seminoles with its running game, which has proven to be good strategy against Florida State. Teams that have had a measure of success against the Seminoles (9-0, 7-0) - Boston College and Miami - have been able to run the ball.

''We're trying to bring that (physical mentality) as an offensive line,'' Syracuse center Macky MacPherson said. ''We want to run the ball, run through people, impose our will against defenses.''

Running back Jerome Smith leads the No. 2 rushing offense in the ACC with 78.3 yards per game and has scored 10 touchdowns on the ground.

''The way they run, they don't have to'' throw, Fisher said with a laugh. ''Consistently and (they) stay with it. They know their identity. That's what they do.

''They're patient. Very patient. They'll pound you then all of a sudden, boom, there's a big one. ... It's their mentality. It's their attitude.''

The Florida State secondary had its chance to shine last week with five interceptions - defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. had one - against Wake Forest. The front-seven will be challenged against the Orange.


Here are five things to watch when Syracuse plays No. 2 Florida State on Saturday:

BOUNCE BACK: The Seminoles offense looks to rebound after the defense starred last week. That could be a tough situation for Syracuse's pass defense, which ranks 11th in the ACC. Florida State is the No. 2 scoring offense in the FBS and had a quiet outing during the 59-3 win against Wake Forest. The defense scored 14 points and forced seven turnovers to set up easy scores. Winston and the offense will want to put on a show..

GOOD START: Syracuse has won two straight ACC games to move one win away from becoming eligible for a bowl game for the third time in four years. The Orange beat Wake Forest 13-0 two weeks ago for their second shutout of the season and defeated Maryland 20-3 last week. Syracuse has three ACC games remaining and can have a winning conference record in its first year in the league with two victories.

FRIENDLY COMPTITION: Twelve different players on the Florida State defense have picked off a pass in 2013 as the Seminoles are tied for the FBS lead with 18 interceptions. Taking the ball away has become a competition within the team and safety Terrence Brooks is behind after he missed last week with a concussion. Nate Andrews had two interceptions in his place. ''Now I've got to go back and have a bigger game than what he had,'' Brooks said.

BLITZ PICKUP: The Orange aren't afraid to blitz from all angles with linebackers, cornerbacks and even safeties. Their 27 sacks are the third-most in the ACC. Syracuse needs to keep Winston off balance and the Seminoles expect to see extra pass rushers to do so. The Florida State running backs will have to be strong in their pass-protection responsibilities. Defensive tackle Jay Bromley leads the Orange with 8.0 sacks.

FEELING GOOD: Syracuse has allowed a combined three points and forced five turnovers in the last two games. The Orange is the No. 6 scoring defense in the ACC, but is definitely feeling confident from the last two performances. They'll need their best effort of the season against the Seminoles. ''Defensively at times this year we've played really good defensive football,'' Syracuse coach Scott Shafer said. ''The kids are playing with a degree of excitement and they're doing a better job with the anticipation side of football.''


AP writer John Kekis contributed to this report

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