Halloween Nightmare

Slim though they were, Florida State's national championship aspirations are officially gone. The Seminoles fell to No. 13 in the coaches' poll on Sunday following their 20-17 defeat against Maryland a day earlier. FSU had been ranked No. 5 in the BCS poll and was the top-ranked one-loss team in college football for nearly a month.

"This hurts," Florida State defensive tackle Travis Johnson said following the Seminoles' stunning defeat at Maryland on Saturday.

"I'm a senior. We're not going to go to a BCS bowl. We're probably going to end up in the Chick-Fil-a Peach Bowl. It just hurts – especially as a senior."

It is the fourth consecutive year that FSU won't reach its ultimate goal

of playing for the national championship. What the Seminoles are not used to hearing is that the familiar consolation prize of an Atlantic Coast Conference title may have eluded them, as well.

With two conference losses, FSU needs slip-ups from Miami and Virginia – each with one ACC loss – to get back into the hunt.

Even then, the Hurricanes own the head-to-head tiebreaker thanks to their September win over FSU.

So what is a realistic goal now?

"Ten wins," free safety Pat Watkins said.

"That's what we're playing for now. We have to win the rest of our games and let everything else take care of itself."

Florida State returns home to host Duke Saturday.

They'll travel to N.C. State for a Thursday night game Nov. 11 before closing their season in Tallahassee against rival Florida.

"Sure we're all hurting right now but we have to focus," tailback Lorenzo Booker said. "We have the rest of our schedule to play."

Johnson's Peach Bowl scenario seems most likely if Florida State finishes the season third in the ACC.

The Gator Bowl, which gets the first pick of ACC teams passed over by the BCS, and the Tangerine Bowl (third pick behind the Gator and Peach) are other options.

But for now, the Seminoles will seek shake off the images of Saturday night.

Much like fans at Clemson (2003) and North Carolina (2001) did after beating FSU at home, the Maryland faithful rushed the field and supplied some mock-chops and mock-chants to celebrate the win.

"This is something we should realize by now," Johnson said.

"Everyone is going to bring their ‘A' game when we come to play. It's going to be like this. We have to be prepared or this happens."


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