September 30, 2014

Jameis Winston has often been at the center of controversy over the past two years, but Florida State continues to stick with him because of performances like last week.

The Seminoles aren't likely to need a big day from their star quarterback to keep their winning streak alive.

Top-ranked Florida State looks to remain focused Saturday when it tries to extend the nation's longest winning streak to a program-record 21 games while dealing Wake Forest its eighth straight road defeat.

A week after serving a one-game suspension, Winston helped the Seminoles (4-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) rally from a 17-point first-quarter deficit in last Saturday's 56-41 victory at North Carolina State.

The 2013 Heisman Trophy winner was held out in Week 3 for making lewd comments about female anatomy on campus, then watched backup Sean Maguire lead an overtime home win over then-No. 22 Clemson on Sept. 20.

Winston went 26 of 38 for 365 yards and four touchdowns in his return, guiding Florida State to four straight scoring drives in the second half to pull away from the upset-minded Wolfpack.

''There's no pressure when the football field is your sanctuary,'' Winston said. ''Because when you step in between those lines, literally in between those lines, that's all that matters.''

Although he does have some things to clean up after committing three turnovers - including a late interception - Winston will try to help the Seminoles extend their historic winning streak with their 18th straight victory against ACC opponents.

Florida State hasn't lost since a 37-26 home defeat versus Florida on Nov. 24, 2012 - three games before Winston took over as the starter before the 2013 season. The team hasn't lost in ACC play since traveling to N.C. State earlier that season.

The Seminoles are hoping they can focus on football for a while even though the school is also currently investigating Winston for a possible code of conduct violation involving an alleged sexual assault in December 2012.

While playing for the baseball team in the spring, he was suspended for three games and completed 20 hours of community service after acknowledging he stole $32 worth of crab legs from a local grocery store.

''I'm not saying he's perfect, but I still believe in him and am very confident in him," coach Jimbo Fisher said.

Fisher's club isn't likely to need another Winston-led comeback against the Demon Deacons (2-3, 0-1), who haven't won on the road since a 25-11 win over Army on Sept. 21, 2013.

Wake Forest averages a nation-worst 29.2 rushing yards per game after finishing with minus-22 in a 20-10 loss at Louisville last Saturday. The team has finished with negative yards on the ground in three of its four games against FBS teams.

John Wolford completed 19 of 34 passes for 122 yards and three interceptions, giving him 10 picks in 179 attempts this season. The freshman quarterback also has been sacked 24 times in five games.

Making matters worse, third-leading receiver Matt James is expected to miss at least four weeks with a broken hand.

Banged-up Florida State hopes to get defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. (concussion) and nose guard Derrick Mitchell Jr. (knee) back after giving up 24 first-quarter points for the first time in team history.

The Seminoles also allowed their most points since a 44-33 loss to Virginia Tech in the 2010 ACC title game.

''When's the last time the offense and defense actually clicked on the same note?'' Winston said. ''I don't know.''

Florida State is likely to have running back Mario Pender available after he missed last week due to injury. Karlos Williams is coming off his best effort, rushing for a career-high 126 yards and three scores on 21 carries.

Rashad Greene had 11 catches for 125 yards and the go-ahead score for the Seminoles. The senior ranks fourth in the country with 135.8 receiving yards per game.

Wake Forest, though, should provide a decent test with the nation's 30th-ranked defense at 330.8 yards per game.

''We are going to have to play our best football game and make improvements in lots of areas to make this a competitive football game,'' first-year coach Dave Clawson said.

The Demon Deacons have dropped the last two meetings by a combined 111-3 score. They've lost their last two in Tallahassee by an 83-0 margin since a 12-3 win Sept. 20, 2008.

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