Thursday's defeat at Louisville was their third in the past 16 games against a heavy underdog. Another emotional test awaits in five days, when Clemson visits Doak Campbell Stadium for a second consecutive Thursday night game.
Clemson coach Tommy Bowden, whose team had this weekend off, believes it's Clemson's best chance to beat the Seminoles since he took over the program. For FSU, another defeat would send its season into a turbulent riptide, one that could be impossible escape for the second consecutive year.
"We just can't give up," defensive end Kevin Emanuel said.
"Everybody has to come out hard. If you don't come out hard in practice, the rest of the season is going to go down. I don't want to play in the Gator Bowl again. I personally don't, so something has to get done. We will get it done. We just have to correct the mistakes we made. If we don't, we can look forward to playing the Gator Bowl again. That's as simple as it is."
The Seminoles will plummet when Monday's new Top 25 polls are released. Despite all this chatter of new and improved, FSU's eason is on the brink again. Not helping matters is the upcoming guantlet against Clemson, top-ranked Miami and surging Notre Dame. November also features road dates at Georgia Tech and North Carolina State.
The Seminoles are finding it difficult to explain away another inexplicable defeat.
"We have to learn to finish," defensive end Eric Powell said.
"We might finish some plays, and some plays we might not finish. I was looking at the defense, I don't think we had a bad night. They made more plays than we made. The team that makes the less mistakes is going to win. That's just football. I guess people aren't in the right place at the right time. It's like a dream to me right now. Some times I think about it and it (couldn't happened) but it's reality."
The ‘Noles know there are a myriad of reasons why they lost at Louisville, weather aside.
Let's start with field position. Because of poor kick coverage, FSU allowed Louisville nearly 200 yards (195) on kickoff and punt returns. The Seminoles had a punt blocked, resulting in a field goal. They had five offensive series' where they failed to make a first down. Whenever the offense generated momentum, the defense let it slip right back. Twice, after scoring to take a lead, FSU yielded Louisville long scoring drives in response.
Whatever the explanation, the Seminoles find themselves in trouble once again. Another loss officially ends FSU's faint championship hopes. Two losses send the season into the same spiral as last year, when coach Bobby Bowden vowed he couldn't stand another mediocre record.
"We can't do what we did last year," defensive tackle Tony Benford said. "We can't afford to. Everybody has got to pick their game up and stop this. We can't have a relapse. Everybody has got to figure out what to do from here – coaches, players, everybody. We have to bounce back. We get let this get us down. The character of our team – how are we going to bounce back?"
How? Linebacker Kendyll Pope said FSU must stop yapping and start playing.
"I think we got a lot of guys doing a lot of talking and not performing when it's time," Pope said. "Like coach Bowden says, you can't talk a good game, you have to play a good game. I think everybody just needs to go out and play ball and not say we are going to do this, or do that.
"I just think we have too many guys talking instead of doing their job.We definitely don't want to go through that embarrassment (last season). I think the fellas all know that. Reality has set in now."