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November 6, 2007

Seminoles hope to build on win at B.C.

BOSTON – Three close losses blemish Florida State's record, so after an upset over Boston College the Seminoles (6-3) may be thinking of what might have been this season.

But the indication is that they're concentrating more on what still might be.

Saturday's 27-17 victory over second-ranked and previously unbeaten BC, in which Florida State held off a late rally to reverse a trend of fourth-quarter collapses against Wake Forest and Miami, meant so much to the Seminoles.

They clinched bowl eligibility for the 26th consecutive season, got a sound performance from quarterback Drew Weatherford and picked up a jolt of confidence that could serve them well in their remaining games.

"It just shows how good we can be as a team," cornerback Patrick Robinson said. "We played a full game: offense, defense and special teams. Even with three losses, we showed we can beat one of the best teams in the nation."

They will need all the momentum and encouragement that victory could provide as they complete the regular season against Virginia Tech, Maryland and Florida, who have a combined record of 17-10.

"It's definitely a step in the right direction," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said. "There is no way you can get a win over the No. 2 team in the country without saying you're heading in the right direction."

FSU fans just hope that the victory begins a change in direction.

It wasn't that long ago the Seminoles annually were among the best teams in the nation. They won the 1999 national championship and lost in the title game the next season.

But since, they've gone from playing for national championships to just trying to keep their bowl streak intact, which they did by beating BC.

"That takes a lot of pressure off of us," Bowden said. "We have been to 25 or 26 (bowl games) in a row, and I would hate to think this is the team that doesn't get to go."

Bowl eligibility doesn't necessarily guarantee bowl participation. Still, by virtue of its glorious past and the big upset of BC, Florida State can feel confident of receiving an invitation. They possibilities range from the well-respected Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta to the not-so-glamorous Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho. Their performance in the remaining regular-season games will determine where they will go, but enhancing their résumé won't be easy.

Still, beating BC is validation for a team that might have questioned itself.

"That's got to help," Bowden said. "We've got some tough games coming up and maybe this will give us a spurt to challenge some of those other teams."

Even though Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 415 yards against the Seminoles, Florida State grabbed three interceptions off the Heisman Trophy candidate. Linebacker Geno Hayes returned one interception 38 yards for a game-clinching touchdown with a little more than a minute remaining.

None of Florida State's remaining opponents throw as prolifically as Boston College, which ranks seventh nationally in passing offense. Florida ranks 41st in passing, while Virginia Tech ranks 93rd and Maryland 101st.

A greater reason to be optimistic is the performance of Weatherford, who has been painfully inconsistent throughout his career. Weatherford, who finally may be getting comfortable under first-year offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, threw for 354 yards and two touchdowns without an interception against Boston College. It was his second consecutive game in which he passed for more than 300 yards without an interception.

"We showed the whole country we believe in where we're going and the direction we're heading," Weatherford said after the win. "We executed from the start to the end. We're going to build on this win."

Olin Buchanan is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.

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