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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida State Seminoles remain the No. 1 team in the nation with a perfect record, but have lived a perilous existence in their three FBS victories. They are still searching for that perfect 60-minute complete game.
Little has come easy as FSU needed two second-half comebacks, including overtime against Clemson, and a late touchdown in the season-opener to hold onto its perch atop college football.
There's no better time to clean things up than against an extremely young Wake Forest (2-3, 0-1) roster that is the only team in the ACC with a losing record.
"It's just scary to see how slow we come out in the first half and ... get behind and be so relaxed and still confident," FSU receiver Rashad Greene said. "Not breaking apart. Come back forcefully and automatically click together.
"Who knows what can happen if we come out there and start fast? ... I'm just excited as Jimbo (Fisher) and anxious to see how we play a full game."
The Seminoles (4-0, 2-0) are ranked the No. 35 scoring offense in the nation after shattering offensive records during its title run. They've scored just 41 of their 116 points against FBS teams in the first half.
The run game headed by senior Karlos Williams has slowly gained steam, putting up 166 yards last week, but is still ranked No. 103 in the country. Senior Rashad Greene's 543 receiving yards ranks No. 5 in FBS, but no one else on the roster has more than 200 receiving yards. Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston had 10 interceptions in 12 games last year, but has four already. He missed one game due to a suspension.
"No team is invincible," Wake Forest defensive lineman Zach Allen said. "I feel like everybody's beatable. It all comes down to one or two plays a game.
"Florida State's an explosive team. We stop the big plays, the game will be closer than most people think."
The Seminoles' defense has had its issues, also.
Florida State has allowed 25.3 points per game, and 29.7 against FBS teams, to rank No. 66 in the country. Last week they missed more than 30 tackles, which Fisher said was the most since he's been in Tallahassee. FSU led the nation and set a school record with 26 interceptions in 2013, but have just one thus far.
Those opportunities should be there against Demon Deacons freshman quarterback John Wolford, who has thrown 10 interceptions and six touchdowns.
"We respect them as a defense," Wake Forest receiver E.J. Scott said. "They definitely have some good players but ... we watched the N.C. State tape ... and we saw what happened out there. There's big plays happening all over the place.
"We look at that and just try to know we'll have a chance to make big plays as well."
Things haven't come easy, but Fisher said there's a positive side to that. The 2013 team may have been dominant in all three phases, but the 2014 version has carved a different identity.
"Great competitors. Don't flinch. Like the moment," Fisher said. "We're not going away. We're not going to go away."
Receiver Jesus "Bobo" Wilson echoed those sentiments and said, "We know we're going to win. That's what I like about our team." Fisher hopes the development of Wilson and young players on both sides of the ball will help eliminate the wild swings in production.
First-year Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson knows the enormity of the challenge his team faces, even if the Seminoles have looked vulnerable for prolonged stretches. The Demon Deacons only have seven senior starters and are the only FBS team starting freshmen at both quarterback and center. They've been held to negative yards rushing in three of five games and the program has lost nine consecutive games to Top 25 teams.
And Florida State is hungry for those perfect 60 minutes.
"We're going to have to play extremely well and play our best football game to be competitive," Clawson said. "At times we're overmatched and we'll have some tough match-ups this week across the board. But all you can do is compete like crazy and prepare the very best you can.
"It'll be a great measuring stick game for us."
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