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Eric Vander Voort | | November 16, 2014

Florida State returns to top spot in AP poll

  Five of Florida State's 10 wins have been in come-from-behind fashion.

Avoid making a statement long enough, it becomes a statement in itself.

That is what this year’s Florida State team has done. It came into the year as the preseason No. 1 after its national championship in January, but didn’t stay long once Mississippi State became the talk of the nation. The Bulldogs had better wins than the Seminoles, and they took over as The Associated Press’ top team on October 12. It gave reason to question Florida State’s merit in the rankings, especially when its best wins had come by close margins against teams like Clemson and Notre Dame, who have not exactly impressed since.

Complete Poll
But now, Florida State is back at No. 1 following its win at Miami (Fla.) and Mississippi State’s loss to Alabama. These Seminoles have done what no other Power Five team has done -- reach 10 wins, and without a loss. They have done so without dominating any of the stronger teams on their schedule like a typical No. 1 might, but there is something to be said of their resiliency and their ability to take a game that looks like a loss and turn it into a win.

Florida State continued its habit of falling behind and coming back on Saturday. Miami had a 23-7 lead in the second quarter, and a 23-10 lead with the ball in the middle of the third. The Seminoles then went on their run and won the game 30-26. The same kind of run it needed when Clemson led 10-3 in the second half. The same kind of run it needed when NC State had a 24-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. The same kind of run it needed to erase multiple second-half Notre Dame leads.

As sluggish as the Seminoles have looked in some first halves this season, their ability to come out firing and change a game after halftime has been vital. They went into the Miami game already having the largest scoring advantage in the third quarter in the country, and they extended that to 109-45. It was the only quarter that the Hurricanes didn’t score. The Noles have been down at halftime five times this season, only to storm back each time.

For a sizable portion of Florida State’s roster, winning is all they know. The Seminoles have won every game since a loss to Florida on Nov. 24, 2012. Jameis Winston is 23-0 as a starter, and the Noles’ win streak of 26 is a program record tied for the second-longest in the past 20 years in FBS. Winston, who seems to make a play to extend an important drive or provide a big moment game after game, has at least 20 completions in each of his past 10 games.

The Seminoles are now back in the familiar No. 1 spot, where they spent 10 consecutive polls between 2013 and ’14. Boston College is up next, before a Florida team that could be playing its last game with Will Muschamp as head coach. The Eagles hung with the Noles a year ago before eventually falling 48-34, while the Gators are looking to avoid dropping four out of the past five to their intra-state rivals. With wins there and a win in the ACC championship game, a place in the College Football Playoff would essentially be locked up.

Notes from the rest of the Top 25:
Alabama moved up to No. 2 after beating Mississippi State, which dropped from the top spot to No. 4. … Oregon is No. 3 after an idle week. … TCU and Baylor stayed in the same places as last week at Nos. 5 and 6, respectively. …. Georgia moved up seven spots to No. 9. …  Wisconsin jumped eight spots to No. 14. … Missouri, Oklahoma and Southern California all entered the poll.

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