Surprise SEC defeats to Florida (at Alabama) and LSU (against Tennessee) in the past week vaulted FSU to the No. 4 spot in the AP poll. The coaches have the Seminoles at No. 5, placing FSU behind Georgia as well as USC, Texas and Virginia Tech, the top three in both polls.
"If you are in a position where you are visible at the beginning of the season, you get to move up the ladder when people ahead of you lose and that has happened much faster than I thought it would," Bowden said following his team's 38-14 victory over Syracuse.
"But we have a long way to go before we deserve where we are this week."
The 75-year old coaching veteran did say that he feels this team is more focused that FSU teams from the past two seasons that squandered top-five status with losses to Maryland and Clemson.
"They are a little bit different," Bowden said. "For some reason they are all on time for meetings. For some reason nobody is late for the bus. The attitude and the hustle and the desire are always there."
The Seminoles will undoubtedly have to adjust to a different mindset for the remainder of the season, beginning when they host Wake Forest (1-2) on Saturday.
After playing as underdogs against Miami and slight favorites against Boston College, FSU will likely be favored in every contest until it meets Florida on Nov. 26.
Increased exposure will come from their lofty position, as well.
"You are glad you are ranked high and people recognize the talent you have," tailback Lorenzo Booker said. "But at the same time we enjoy people not talking about us because it keeps everybody focused.
"We are in the role that Florida State used to have. Guys like me who have been around the past few seasons are used to being the underdog and people always saying, ‘you guys don't have it anymore'. It'll be different now."
Tuning that out, Booker says, has never been a problem.
"We realize that when we play good, people will talk good and when we play bad, people will talk bad. As long as we play for ourselves, we'll be alright."
Several Seminoles pointed out the obvious – if they can handle their end of the bargain, there aren't many favors that are needed to get them into the national championship game. If No. 3 Virginia Tech wins out, FSU will face the Hokies Dec. 4 in the inaugural ACC Championship Game.
Two of out the other three contenders will have to falter; USC, Texas and Georgia aren't on the schedule but have several tough tests the rest of the way.
The top-ranked Trojans travel to Notre Dame next Saturday and also have to tangle with Cal and UCLA before season's end. Texas entertains Okalahoma this Saturday and has dates with high-flying Texas Tech and surprising Texas A&M down the stretch. Georgia will tackle Tennessee this weekend and also has a Cocktail Party meeting with Florida in Jacksonville later this month.
Both the 'Horns and the 'Dawgs will also meet the best from the Big 12 and SEC in their respective conference championship games should each take care of business.
"For the most part, we control our destiny," center David Castillo said. "We know that if we win out there's a good chance that we will be playing for the national championship."
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