Without a national championship or Atlantic Coast Conference title to play for, Florida State has set its sights on more modest goals.
One of those is sending out the current senior class with the most victories in school history.
No. 16 Florida State (8-2, 6-2 ACC, No. 14 College Football Playoff) will honor 12 scholarship seniors before its 3 p.m. kickoff Saturday against FCS member Chattanooga (8-2) in the final home game of the season.
Those players who have been with the program for four seasons have been a part of 47 victories, one shy of equaling the four-year record set by the 2014 seniors. These seniors have a chance to become the first four-year class to win 50 games if the Seminoles win out.
“This class is one of the all-time greats,” coach Jimbo Fisher said. “… Pretty special.”
The scholarship seniors include safety Lamarcus Brutus, defensive back Javien Elliott, defensive tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample, and linebackers Reggie Northrup and Terrance Smith; along with punter Cason Beatty, quarterback Everett Golson, defensive back Tyler Hunter, long snapper Barrett Kernon, defensive tackle Derrick Mitchell, defensive end Giorgio Newberry and defensive back Keelin Smith. Brutus, Hunter, Lawrence-Stample, Mitchell, Newberry, Keelin Smith and Terrance Smith are in their fifth year. Golson has been at FSU for just one year.
“It’s very important to send them out on a good note for their last home game,” said sophomore running back Dalvin Cook, who became the Seminoles’ single-season rushing record-holder last week, passing Warrick Dunn. Cook has 1,369 yards and is second nationally with 152.1 yards per game.
In addition, junior cornerback Jalen Ramsey is expected to enter the NFL Draft next spring, and he could be joined by junior kicker Roberto Aguayo.
Florida State will use the game as a tuneup for its showdown next week at No. 8 Florida. The teams would meet with both of them ranked for the first time in three years.
The Seminoles still have much on the line, including playing for a spot in a New Year’s Six Bowl — a real possibility if FSU wins its final two games — and winning 10 games for the fourth consecutive season and fifth time in Fisher’s six years as coach.
Quarterback Sean Maguire is set to start his third game and first as the undisputed starter. He has supplanted Golson after coming in early in the second quarter last week against North Carolina State and rallying FSU from a 10-point deficit to a 34-17 victory.
Receiver Kermit Whitfield said Maguire, who threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns after entering the game, sparked the offense. But Whitfield also said it doesn’t matter who is the quarterback.
“It’s not really a big deal because during the week they were both getting reps,” he said. “So we were getting a feel for both quarterbacks.”
Chattanooga comes to Tallahassee after wrapping up its third consecutive Southern Conference title last week with a 31-23 victory over The Citadel to earn an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs. The Mocs are ranked ninth in the FCS coaches’ poll.
“This team is used to playing [FCS] teams, used to having success,” Fisher said. “They’re used to these venues; they play Alabama, they play Tennessee, so coming in here won’t be any big deal to them.”
Chattanooga is led by quarterback Jacob Huesman, the son of coach Russ Huesman. Huesman has thrown for 1,651 yards and rushed for 997.
Saturday: Chattanooga at No. 16 FSU
Kickoff: 3 p.m.; Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee.
TV, radio: SUN; WFTL 850.
Favorite: No line.
Records: Chattanooga 8-2 (6-1 Southern); FSU 8-2 (6-2 ACC).
Series: FSU leads 2-0.
FSU injuries: Questionable — OL Chad Mavety (undisclosed); OL Brock Ruble (groin); OL Cole Minshew (concussion); TE Jeremy Kerr (concussion); DL Lorenzo Featherston (knee); DB Marcus Lewis (concussion); OL Ryan Hoefeld (shoulder). Doubtful — LB Reggie Northrup (arm). Out — OL Derrick Kelly (knee); WR Ja’Vonn Harrison (concussion); DB Trey Marshall (bicep); OL Abdul Bello (knee); TE Jalen Wilkerson (shoulder); RB Mario Pender (lung); DB Tyrell Lyons (ACL); DB Ryan Green (shoulder); DT Derrick Mitchell (back); TE Mavin Saunders (shoulder); FB Freddie Stevenson (concussion).
Chattanooga injuries: None reported.