Florida State University

FSU Seminoles ready to atone for rare loss, still has playoff hopes

Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher speaks to players during a timeout against Georgia Tech during the first half Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, in Atlanta.
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher speaks to players during a timeout against Georgia Tech during the first half Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, in Atlanta. AP

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher does not measure his team’s progress based on whether it’s still alive for the College Football Playoff, but he still believes all of FSU’s goals remain alive after its first regular-season loss in nearly three years.

“You can get in with one loss, that’s been proven,” Fisher said. “We got to control what we can control. That means playing the next game, improving. Play well against Syracuse, then go to the next game.”

One thing is certain: No. 17 Florida State still controls its destiny when it comes to the ACC. FSU has three conference games remaining, starting with Saturday’s against Syracuse at Doak Campbell Stadium.

The Seminoles, though, must overcome two obstacles: the loss of star running back Dalvin Cook, who sustained an ankle injury in last week’s loss to Georgia Tech and has been ruled out, and the disappointment of their 28-game ACC winning streak being snapped by the Yellow Jackets on a touchdown return of a blocked field goal on the final play of the game.

“It’s part of the game. We lost,” senior linebacker Reggie Northrup said. “We’ve still got a big future ahead of us as far as this season. We’re just going to move forward from there, put that in the past and just continue to improve as a team.”

As for Cook, it’s far more important that he is healthy next week for the Clemson game.

He will be replaced by sophomore Johnathan Vickers and freshman Jacques Patrick, who have combined for just 65 rushing yards this season. Cook leads the ACC with 1,037 yards.

The loss to Georgia Tech might have taken some of the luster off next week’s showdown at Clemson, but the stakes for that game remain sky high if both teams take care of business Saturday.

Both are favorites — FSU by 20 1/2 points, Clemson by 10 points at North Carolina State.

Syracuse isn’t exactly in a winning frame of mind as it prepares to face a team that has won the past two meetings by a combined 74 points. The Orange has lost four in a row after opening with wins over Rhode Island, Wake Forest and Central Michigan.

Syracuse is coming off a 23-20 loss to Pittsburgh decided on a 25-yard field goal as time expired.

One of Florida State senior quarterback Everett Golson’s best game came against Syracuse last season, when he was with Notre Dame. Golson was 32 of 39 for 362 yards and four touchdowns. His completion percentage (82.1) and touchdowns are career highs. He also tossed four touchdown passes in first FSU debut against Texas State.

Saturday: Syracuse at No. 17 FSU

Kickoff: Noon; Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee.

TV/radio: ABC; WFTL 850.

Favorite: FSU by 20 1/2.

Records: FSU 6-1 (4-1 ACC); Syracuse 3-4 (1-2 ACC).

Series: FSU leads 7-1.

FSU injuries: Questionable — LB Terrance Smith (ankle); WR Auden Tate (toe); OL Cole Minshew (concussion); TE Jeremy Kerr (concussion); DB Marcus Lewis (knee). Out — RB Dalvin Cook (ankle); DB Trey Marshall (bicep); OL Abdul Bello (knee); TE Jalen Wilkerson (shoulder); RB Mario Pender (lung); DB Tyrell Lyons (ACL); DB Ryan Green (shoulder).

Syracuse injuries: Questionable — TE Kendall Moore (upper body); LB Alryk Perry (upper body); WR Ben Lewis (upper body); RB Tyrone Perkins (illness). Out — QB AJ Long (concussion); QB Terrel Hunt (achilles).

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