TALLAHASSEE -- The last time No. 4 Florida State (4-0) squared off with South Florida, in 2009, the Seminoles were riding high off a victory over a top-10 team.
Having just beaten No. 7 BYU in Provo 54-28, Florida State might have overlooked a Bulls team laden with numerous future NFL players and was dealt an embarrassing 17-7 loss at home.
I remember they came out swinging, for lack of better words, said FSU senior kicker Dustin Hopkins, then a freshman. They were on fire, we came out flat, and we never recovered.
This year, Florida State again finds itself riding high after a victory over a top-10 team. But FSU isnt about to overlook USF on Saturday night.
Its a good win. We should win big games here at Florida State, said Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher after FSU beat No. 10 Clemson 49-37 last weekend.
Were 4-0, thats all it is. We have a critical game next week at South Florida; we have to get ready for that and put this one behind us.
All season, Fisher has told his team to eliminate the clutter. Its a talking point most of his players now repeat verbatim. The challenge Saturday will be dealing with a USF team that doesnt look that imposing on the schedule.
You prepare the same way; you cant play down to any team, FSU sophomore cornerback Nick Waisome said. Youve got to play at your best at all times, so I go into this week still working on my techniques, press and off, and I plan on having another repeat [of last week].
South Florida (2-2) is coming off a tough loss. After dropping a close game to Rutgers two weeks ago at home, last weekend the Bulls fell to Ball State in a game many felt they should have won.
On Saturday, with a very talented Florida State team coming to town, the Bulls will look to bounce back behind the play of senior quarterback B.J. Daniels.
Hes a tremendous challenge; he can run, he can throw, hes strong, hes competitive, Fisher said. I mean, he can throw the ball long, long distances. No play is ever dead.
Daniels mobility gave the Seminoles fits when he beat them as a freshman. But this Florida State defense is far more talented than the 2009 version and far more disciplined.
In 2009, Florida States defense was statistically the worst in school history. This season, its No. 2 in the nation.
The defensive front, in particular, fresh off containing another mobile quarterback in Clemsons Tajh Boyd, should be ready to pressure Daniels, and Florida States secondary is looking forward to the seniors willingness to put the ball up.
He extends the play, but I know for sure he throws that thing downfield, from film you can see [when] he throws it downfield a lot of them he just throws up a prayer, Waisome said. So I want to be able to stay in my coverage and get one of those picked off.
Florida States offense, led by quarterback EJ Manuel, ranks fourth nationally in total offense and second in scoring and should be able to attack the USF defense all night. Tampa native James Wilder Jr., who will have a couple dozen family and friends in attendance, also should factor heavily in the second half for FSU.