TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Ticker) -- Florida State has managed a relatively mediocre 13-7 record over its last 20 games. That fall from the college football elite in many ways can be traced to a September afternoon last season in Chapel Hill.
North Carolina took advantage of the mistake-prone Seminoles to coast to a 41-9 win and hand coach Bobby Bowden his worst loss since his first season in 1976. It would be the first of three losses to unranked teams over the next 20 games for the Seminoles, who surrendered 34 points in the second half to a 17-point underdog.
The chance for redemption comes Saturday when the Seminoles host North Carolina and can clinch at least a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference title with a victory.
"We just totally got embarrassed as a defense and as a whole," defensive end Alonzo Jackson told the Tallahassee Democrat. "The offense sputtered and the defense gave up the fort against North Carolina."
While the Seminoles (7-3, 6-0) fell out of the national title chase weeks ago, there is still plenty to play for. Florida State remains the only unbeaten team in conference play and is closing in on a BCS berth and its 10th ACC title in 11 years.
Adrian McPherson has taken over for the ineffective Chris Rix at quarterback and threw two touchdowns in last week's 21-13 win at Georgia Tech. In two starts, McPherson has thrown for 417 yards and two scores.
Florida State has outscored opponents, 159-50, in the second quarter.
North Carolina (2-8, 0-6) may be happy to escape Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels were routed by Clemson, 42-12, last week to fall to 0-6 at Kenan Stadium this season, its first winless home slate since 1952. The Tar Heels must win at Florida State or Duke to avoid a winless conference mark for the first time since 1989.
Sam Aiken of the Tar Heels leads the ACC with 88.5 receiving yards per game.