Back to Work

After a three-day reprieve, <b>Florida State </b>returns to the practice fields on Monday to begin preparations for the <b>Florida Gators.</b> The showdown at Doak Campbell Stadium marks the regular-season finale for both teams -- FSU needs a win to remain on track for a second consecutive 10-win season, while UF hopes to win in Tallahassee for the first time since 1986.

Florida State is in good position heading into its final regular-season game Saturday against rival Florida.

Good position -- but not ideal.

The Seminoles concluded their Atlantic Coast Conference schedule on Thursday, winning ugly at North Carolina State, 17-10, to finish 6-2 in the league.

The Seminoles, at the momemt, remain in the ACC title picture along with Miami, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

The only team that truly controls its ACC destiny is Virginia Tech. For the Hokies, it's simple - beat Maryland, Virginia and Miami to end the year, and they're headed to a BCS game as ACC champion.

FSU coach Bobby Bowden message has been oft-repeated by other ACC head coaches this season.

Plus, Bowden also is not concerned about a league title at the moment -- not with the Gators visiting Tallahassee this weekend and remaining ACC matchups amongst the leaders.

"I felt like the conference battle this year was tougher than it's been in the 13 years we've been in there. I felt like, gosh, it was more scary this year than any year I could remember,'' Bowden said.

"There's no reason to be optimistic or pessimistic [about winning a share of the league title]. There's not a doggone thing you can do. You've already done all you can do. Now it's sit back and wait.''

Of course, FSU can't sit back and wait concerning UF.

Beating the Gators for the ninth consecutive time in Tallahassee (and sixth time in the past seven meetings overall) expects to be a difficult challenge.

UF is coming off a convincing home victory over South Carolina.

Gators quarterback Chris Leak threw for 319 yards and a career-high six touchdown passes.

UF's defense confounded the Gamecocks, finishing with four interceptions and three sacks.

The Gators continue to play with spunk and spirit for embattled coach Ron Zook, who will step down following season's end.

FSU's health remains a concern -- especially at center.

David Castillo is hoping to find a way to play against Florida after dislocating the ring finger on his snapping hand at N.C. State. He participated in three plays and was replaced by Brian Ross.

John Frady is out for the season -- he hopes to earn a medical hardship.

FSU's offense also remains a concern.

In this week's national rankings, FSU is 56th in rushing, 70th in passing and 66th overall. Also, not to be forgotten, the Seminoles are last in third-down conversions.

FSU's defense has been tough as nails -- it's first in rushing defense, 39th in pass defense, fourth in total defense and third in scoring defense.

FSU has played well at home this season but will still need a solid all-around effort versus UF.

Against the Wolfpack, Wyatt Sexton completed just five passes and directed the Seminoles to 121 total offensive yards.

Normally a performance like that would warrant concern, but Sexton isn't losing any sleep over it.

"A lot of that has do with the type of defense that they played," Sexton said.

"They kept us off-balance with a lot of things we weren't expecting. Those boys came to play."

FSU and offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden played ultra-conservative, running seven times before even attempting a pass. The Seminoles called runs on 12 of their first 14 plays and Sexton didn't complete a pass until midway through the second quarter.

"The plays (Thursday) – a lot of them could have worked if we did our jobs," tailback Lorenzo Booker said.

"It seemed like every time we would run the ball, one person wouldn't do their job. One play it would be this person and the next it would be another.

"We haven't all been on the same page when we play on the road. We need to figure that out because we're not going to be playing a bowl game in our backyard."


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