GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Before Saturday's regular-season finale against rival Florida at the Swamp, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston asked his teammates how many of them had finished unbeaten during high school.
Only a couple of Seminoles raised their hands.
"Just like I told the guys before the game, we haven't been undefeated in a long time," Winston said. "I haven't been undefeated in a long time. It feels good."
It feels really good now, after No. 2 Florida State dismantled rival Florida 37-7 in front of more than 90,000 fans at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday. The Seminoles (12-0, 8-0 ACC) are one more victory away from playing for a national championship. They'll play No. 24 Duke in next week's ACC championship in Charlotte, N.C., with a chance to play in the Jan. 6 BCS National Championship at Rose Bowl Stadium on the line.
"First state championship and then ACC championship and then national championship," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "That's our goals."
Winston, the Heisman Trophy favorite, threw for 327 yards with three touchdowns on 19-for-31 passing. FSU finished its first undefeated regular season since 1999, when it went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the country and won its second national championship under legendary coach Bobby Bowden.
"It's definitely something big," FSU defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. said. "That's why you come to FSU. To be a part of history is definitely something big. [But] we're definitely not finished. We still have things we want to do. We have to keep it in perspective."
More than anything else, the Seminoles have taken care of their business week to week this season, which is something they haven't always done in the past. Even against Florida -- which was coming off a 26-20 loss to FCS foe Georgia Southern last week and finished with its first losing season (4-8, 3-5 SEC) since 1979 -- the Seminoles were focused on the task at hand.
"I'm very proud of this group," Fisher said. "This group is seamless. The reason this team was able to [finish unbeaten] is because it played one game at a time. It never left their heads. It doesn't worry about the results. It doesn't worry about the outcome. It doesn't worry about what we have in front of us. It's a very mature group that buys into our philosophies of one game at a time and the process of why we do things."
After a slow start, FSU pulled away when Winston threw a pair of touchdowns to Kelvin Benjamin in the final four-and-a-half minutes of the first half for a 17-0 lead. Benjamin, a junior from Belle Glade, Fla., finished with nine catches for 212 yards with three touchdowns. FSU rolled up 456 yards of total offense and went 9-for-15 on third down.
That was more than enough against Florida's woefully inept offense, which managed only eight first downs and 193 yards of offense in the game. The Gators trailed 27-0 before scoring a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to avoid being shut out for the first time since 1988.
"You've got to be a complete team if you're going to win a championship," Fisher said. "You can't only be good on offense, you have to be good in all three phases."
The Seminoles are more than good enough on offense -- as long as Winston is on the field. Winston, a sophomore from Bessemer, Ala., was accused of raping a female FSU student in December 2012. Tallahassee police reopened the case about three weeks ago, and State Attorney Willie Meggs has been investigating the allegations.
Meggs is expected to decide in the next two weeks whether his office has sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against Winston. Under FSU athletics department policies, a student-athlete charged with a felony is immediately suspended and ineligible for competition.
For the third consecutive game, Winston didn't seem fazed by the off-field distractions, even as the Gators hit him more than a few times early.
"I think the more he gets banged up, the more competitive he becomes," Fisher said. "He's a competitor. There are two kinds of people when you hit someone in the mouth: one who looks around and says 'Huh?' and one who jumps back into the fight. He jumps back into the fight."
The fight only gets bigger next week.
"We're not even playing at our prime right now," Winston said.