TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Although Jimbo Fisher is 27-9 since taking the reins at Florida State, he still hasn’t won after a bye week.
The eighth-ranked Seminoles (8-1, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) are 0-2 following a layoff in Fisher’s first two seasons. They’re aiming to snap that bit of ignominy Thursday night at Virginia Tech, which is in danger of its first losing season in more than two decades.
Aside from some earlier season-ending injuries to key players, Fisher said the Seminoles are well rested and healthy. He said the coaches and players haven’t given any thought to the failures of the past two years after bye weeks.
“That has nothing to do with how we prepare,” Fisher said Monday. “This is not the same team. Your injuries aren’t the same. Your history is not the same.”
Last year the Seminoles were upset 35-30 at Wake Forest despite having two weeks to get ready for that game. In 2010 they were defeated at North Carolina State after a 12-day rest, and then came home and lost again by North Carolina. In each case, the Seminoles were favorites to win and they’re a two-touchdown favorite over the Hokies, who are trying to salvage a winning season and bowl berth.
“We can’t control how they play,” Fisher said. “All we can control is how we play and how we prepare mentally to go in there.”
Virginia Tech (4-5, 2-3) has won just twice since Sept. 8 and outscored 68-29 the past two weeks in losses at Clemson and Miami. Their lone wins the past two months were over Bowling Green and Duke.
“The difference between winning and losing sometimes can be two or three plays, or confidence sometimes,” Fisher said.
But the Hokies seem to have plenty of confidence at home, where they’re 4-1 this year. They routed the Seminoles 40-21 in 2007, the last time the two played in Blacksburg, Va.
But as Fisher likes to say, this is a different Florida State team. Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer agrees.
“Our players have realized what a challenge we have,” Beamer said. “We have their attention toward that and that’s what we need to be looking at right now.”
However, the Seminoles have struggled in their three road games this year, averaging 26.7 points per game compared to 54 at home. Their lone loss came a month ago at North Carolina State after the Seminoles inexplicably blew a 16-point halftime lead.
Fisher believes his team has matured as a result of those experiences and doesn’t expect history to repeat itself in the form of another loss after an open date.
“We’ll be a good fresh team,” Fisher said. “A team that’s mentally prepared and ready to play.”