TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher wants his team to remember the pain from its first loss last year, a setback that knocked the Seminoles out of national championship contention.
The Seminoles had risen to No. 3 after the first five weeks then promptly lost to North Carolina State 17-16. The ranking was its highest since 2003 when Bobby Bowden - who will attend a game at Florida State on Saturday for the first time since retiring after the 2009 season - was still in charge.
Fast forward 12 months and third-ranked Florida State (6-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) is No. 2 in the BCS standings with the Wolfpack coming to Tallahassee on Saturday. After crushing Clemson last Saturday in their much anticipated showdown, Fisher hopes the memories of losing to the Wolfpack will help his team's focus.
''Feel that pain,'' Fisher said. ''Pain is preparation. You want that pain again? Don't prepare. You want to eliminate that pain? Prepare and take care of your business.''
NC State (3-3, 0-3) is the lone ACC program with a winning record against Florida State under Fisher. This is the next step in the program's return to annual championship relevance, he said.
To drive home the point, defensive end Christian Jones' Day 1 installation packet had a still picture of the final, game-winning play by N.C. State on the cover.
''We actually started talking about it as soon as we got done with the Clemson game,'' Jones said. ''We felt horrible after that game last year. ... That kind of sticks with us even throughout this season.
''It motivates us a lot. ... We don't want to feel like we did last year in the locker room.''
The Seminoles have passed on the tests they've faced.
They blew out then-No. 3 Clemson 51-14 in Death Valley last weekend. Florida State hadn't won at Clemson since 2001. The Seminoles dealt with 14 days of hype prior to the game. They've keep all the Heisman Trophy talk about the redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston in perspective - though he has played six games total.
''If they don't play well, that would be great, but I'm anticipating a great Florida State team,'' N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said. ''That's what we've seen for every game that we've got on tape, is them dominating people. We know we've got to play well.
''The good thing is our players have played against them and played well against them. So we know if we do things right, we have a chance to win in this football game.''
Maryland arrived in Tallahassee as a Top 25 team and was supposed to provide a barometer for the Seminoles. Then the Terrapins lost 63-0.
The No. 3 scoring offense in the FBS hasn't been held to fewer than 41 points and the No. 3-ranked scoring defense has allowed more than 14 points just once.
''Clutter is clutter no matter what it is,'' Fisher said. ''You have to stay focused and prioritize. Learning to prioritize is very critical in success and maintaining success and having consistency in success.
''Prioritizing and not changing those priorities. I think that's what our focus will be on.''
The Seminoles led 16-0 at halftime against N.C. State last season before being outscored 17-0 in the second half. Quarterback Mike Glennon threw a 2-yard touchdown to Bryan Underwood on fourth-and-goal with 16 seconds left in the game.
''The guys know when we're at our best, we can compete with anybody,'' N.C. State linebacker D.J. Green said. ''We've done that on plenty of occasions. This is just another opportunity against a good Florida State team. We'll go out and do what we do, do what we're prepared to do.''
Linebacker Telvin Smith was on the field during that final job, and he hasn't forgotten. N.C. State may be sandwiched in between No. 9 Clemson and No. 7 Miami, but the Wolfpack have proved more dangerous than either the last three years.
''I haven't rewatched it, it's just like yesterday that it happened,'' Smith said. ''I know what it felt like. I was on the field. I saw him catch it. ... I vividly remember that."
Bowden, who was leery of hanging around the program while Fisher was establishing his own identity, will plant the flaming spear at midfield as part of the pregame ceremonies.
Not everything to come out of the Clemson win was good for the Seminoles. Running back James Wilder Jr. suffered a concussion and will miss Saturday's game.
Karlos Williams will back up starter Devonta Freeman.