Reaching 50 wins goal for No. 16 Florida State seniors
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) The last goal remaining for Florida State's seniors is to leave school with 50 wins under their belts.
If the 16th-ranked Seminoles win out - Saturday against Chattanooga, the regular-season finale at rival No. 8 Florida and a subsequent bowl bid - the seniors would have a 50-5 record. Defeating the Mocs would tie them with last year's class for the most in school history (48).
For a group that has a national championship and three Atlantic Coast Conference titles on its resume, getting to 50 would cap an impressive run.
''It is important to have a record like that because it separates you from the great teams,'' said safety Lamarcus Brutus, who has a team-leading two interceptions.
The only other senior class in FBS that could claim larger bragging rights is defending national champion and No. 2 Ohio State, who has 48 wins going into Saturday's game against No. 9 Michigan State.
Coach Jimbo Fisher has been stressing sending the seniors out on a high note since a 23-13 loss to top-ranked Clemson on Nov. 7. Even though this is the first time in four years Florida State will not reach the ACC title game, it still has an outside shot at making one of the New Year's Day six bowl games.
''What they've accomplished in these last four years, winning almost 90, 91 percent of their games, this class is one of the all-time greats,'' Fisher said. ''A lot of those guys that haven't had huge roles in the past have grown into them and have really accepted them and have been a big part of why we're successful right now.''
The 19 seniors, who are 26-1 at Doak Campbell Stadium, will be honored before the game. The 12 on scholarship is tied with Miami for ninth fewest in FBS. Five of the six senior starters are on defense.
The defense is a huge reason why the Seminoles are 8-2 and ranked 14th in the College Football Playoffs. Florida State allowed 30 or more points in five games last season but is one of only two schools (Ohio State is the other) that have not allowed any this season.
The nine seniors on defense have accounted for 40.7 percent of the team's tackles along with four interceptions and three forced fumbles. Reggie Northrup leads the team in tackles with 73 and is looking to become the first Florida State since 2003 to record consecutive seasons of 100 tackles or more.
''I have really matured as a player. I have become a lot smarter in knowing the game of football by dissecting plays, recognizing formations and becoming more mentally tough on the field,'' said Northrup of his time at Florida State.
Linebacker Terrance Smith, defensive tackle Nile Lawrence-Stample and defensive back Javien Elliott are the other starters. Elliott, a walk-on who earned a scholarship before the start of the season, has come on the last four weeks due to injuries and had a big interception in the Oct. 17 win over Louisville.
Punter Cason Beatty is averaging a career-best 43.9 yards and has 14 punts this season of 50-plus yards. Everett Golson is the only scholarship player on offense but lost the starting quarterback job with three interceptions in his last 17 passes. Golson, who has been on campus less than five months after being a graduate transfer from Notre Dame, could see action depending on the score.
For Fisher, the big thing will be everyone keeping their emotions in check throughout the day. Fisher said one of the hardest things with the day is reflecting on a career pregame and then having to quickly go out and play.
Fisher said that as coaches the day is like watching their own kids leave home.
''Because then you have no control over them and you worry like hell, just like a parent does,'' Fisher continued. ''They turn them to you, and you're turning them back to the world and everybody else, and pray to God that the things you've tried to instill in them here, even if they haven't clicked here, they later on click.''