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Florida State's One-Point Margin for Error Looms Larger than Ever

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Now it really hurts.

Now– almost as much as in the hours immediately afterwards– those ill-fated 30 minutes of football in the second half of a game at NC State sting in the minds of Seminoles fans.

On Saturday, just hours after clinching the Atlantic division of the ACC with a 41-14 win at Maryland, Florida State was given a harsh reminder of what could have been.

In the day’s late slate of games Stanford upset Oregon and Baylor way-layed Kansas State. Numbers one and two had fallen, the count of unbeatens had shrunk to one.

In Tallahassee, thoughts of October 6th in Raleigh crept back into the minds of the Seminoles.

After taking a 16-0 lead into the locker room at NC State, Florida State’s offense stalled. The Wolfpack nickel-and-dimed the Seminole D for 17 second-half points and FSU went home losers 17-16.

It’s the only time it’s happened all season, the Seminoles’ lone blemish, but it came full circle on Saturday night when Oregon and Kansas State both fell.

Now the Seminoles find themselves stuck at 10th in the BCS, weighed down by the computers, just tangibly out of reach of their preseason goal of a national title.

Florida State is literally just a one-point October loss from being unbeaten and poised to take on Notre Dame (the new consensus number one) in a rematch of last year’s Champs Sports Bowl.

The last team to beat Notre Dame, after all, was Florida State.

But nobody’s pointing that out. This is what it feels like to lack college football capital. Once a stalwart program, a decade down has rendered Florida State’s reputation largely irrelevant– nobody’s giving the ‘Noles the benefit of the doubt anymore.

After all the Seminoles have not won their own conference in seven years, have not played for a championship in 12.

The college football world seems acutely aware of this.

And while one and even two-loss teams from more prestigious conferences continue to jump Florida State, the Seminoles are treading water, left thinking about what could have been.

Right now Florida State is fighting an uphill battle to “get back,” in a disrespected conference with a razor thin margin for error.

How thin?

How about a single point.

Were it not for that one-point loss over a month ago in Raleigh the Seminoles would be poised for a shot at a BCS title. Instead they find themselves entering the last week of the season navigating BCS scenarios that have their destiny in other team’s hands.

At the center of those scenarios is their regular season finale against a one-loss SEC school and hated rival– Florida.

The Gators represent Florida State’s last best chance to make a statement to voters, the following week’s ACC Championship game will likely hurt the Seminoles with the BCS computers.

FSU’s last best hope may be a resounding win over UF, some key losses by teams ahead of them and a boost in the polls.

Even then, it’s still unlikely to be enough in the BCS. Even if the ‘Noles can soundly defeat the no. 4-ranked Florida Gators and get the help they need the computers are unlikely to give the Seminoles a shot.

Because of one point.

That made all the difference.

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