Sunday Blitz

The Florida State Seminoles were all smiles Sunday afternoon. With good reason. For starters, FSU dealt Notre Dame its first home shutout since 1978 a day earlier. Better yet, the national championship race was blown wide open as Miami and Georgia -- two teams ranked in front of the Seminoles heading into the weekend -- lost, leaving top-ranked Oklahoma with the inside track to the national title Sugar Bowl.

For the Seminoles (8-1) and others, such as Southern Cal (8-1), LSU (8-1), Virginia Tech (7-1), and Ohio State (8-1), the goal is to take care of business during the regular season‘s final month and let the chips -- in this case the Bowl Championship Series rankings -- fall where they may.

Since losing at home to Miami Oct. 11, FSU has improved four spots from No. 7 to No. 3 behind the Sooners and USC in the polls.

The BCS rankings are released every Monday.

"Hopefully, we will go to No. 2 (in BCS) but I don't know," Seminole defensive lineman Travis Johnson said Sunday.

"I think we still need Miami to lose another game and I think Southern Cal is going to lose to UCLA -- I am calling it right now. They are going to lose to UCLA (laughing). I think we have the best chance of beating Oklahoma anyway.

"It's (fun) but it's nerve-wracking. You don't know where you are going to end up at . As long as we take care of our own business, we can't help what the computers do and all that other stuff. We have to take care of ourselves."

FSU, which is at Clemson Saturday, turned in one of its finest performances in its 37-0 victory at Notre Dame, the second worst home loss in Irish history. Heroes were everywhere.

Quarterback Chris Rix passed for 327 yards and three touchdowns.

Receiver Craphonso Thorpe had seven catches for 217 yards, including touchdown catches of 35 and 38 yards.

The Seminole defense turned in three interceptions, including a 90-yarder returned for a score by Leroy Smith, and turned away Notre Dame four times in the red zone, three in the shadows of the goal line.

"It was great -- I called my high school coach (following the game)," Johnson said. "I took pictures while I was there, and then we got that shutout. It was beautiful. I really enjoyed it."

The Seminoles avenged last year's home defeat to Notre Dame, which is 4-9 since that upset at Doak Campbell Stadium. The 37-point deficit, the ninth worst defeat in Notre Dame history, marks the third time the Irish have been routed this season.

While Notre Dame is struggling to compete with the nation's elite, the Seminoles are once again in the national championship picture.

FSU has remaining road games at Clemson and Florida mixed in with a home date versus North Carolina State Nov. 15. USC has three remaining-regular season games as well, two at home against UCLA (Nov. 22) and Oregon (Dec. 6) and on the road at Arizona Nov. 15.

Plenty can still happen in the BCS.

"I try to (keep up) but it's so confusing," FSU receiver P.K. Sam said Sunday.

"I am like whatever happens, happens. I wasn't surprised about the outcome (Virginia Tech over Miami) but the score was so lopsided. It was eventually going to happen, especially this year with (Brock) Berlin at quarterback. He was kind of living off the talent around him and it finally caught up with him."

As the regular-season winds down, it remains to be seen if anyone can catch the Sooners.

"It's fun man. It's always fun for me to watch college football and watch it unfold," FSU receiver Dominic Robinson said Sunday.

"It's fun to be a part of it. They had Survival Saturday this week and they had Separation Saturday a few weeks ago. I mean, it's funny those two words really describe the weeks perfectly. This is fun how it's unfolding -- it's kind of like a movie. It seems like everything right now is working for the good of us. But I am interested to see how it plays out. There's a whole bunch of scenarios -- people are saying USC will jump us and Miami could jump us at the end.

"It's fun to watch but we can't worry about it. We have to win. None of those scenarios can happen if we don't win the rest of our games."

Cornerback Bryant McFadden agreed, saying, "Regardless, different people have their opinions. It doesn't matter what people say we just have to come in week in and week out and just fight to get a victory. Regardless of what other teams do in the standings with us, if we don't win that doesn't do anything for us."


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