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Cheez-It Bowl offers FSU one more opportunity to leave stamp on program

“They will forever be Noles. It is part of who they are. It is the work that they have done.”

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 25 Florida at Florida State Photo by Chris Leduc/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Earning a bowl game bid, finishing in the top 15, and securing thrilling wins over rivals in the state of Florida capped off a Florida State football regular season built around work and investment, leading to a chance for the Seminoles to secure the team’s first 10-win season since 2016.

One of the most applicable words to describe third-year head coach Mike Norvell’s approach: work. The change in approach became apparent as early as spring camp when the first inklings of how different of a team FSU wanted to be started popping up. The players bought into the strength and conditioning program, and you could tell immediately that they were a different team.

“We work on those other little things. Every little facet in our lives that we can control, we control those controllable,” offensive lineman Dillan Gibbons said this week. “Whether it be showing up early to meetings, a little bit more emphasis at the end of a block...really digging down and doing as much as we possibly can with the ability each and every one of us has.”

Those little things have added up, and after two losing seasons, FSU holds the No. 13 spot in the country and is the only team ranked top 10 in yards per play both on offense and on defense. They have 15 All-ACC players, the ACC defensive rookie of the year, and many other accolades built up after a season some fans expected to end in November.

“They love each other, and it is what you try to build within a team,” head coach Mike Norvell said at his Wednesday morning press conference. “You have guys that truly care about who they represent and who they get to be a part of the journey with.”

With so many eyes on the 2023 season and recruiting, it’s easy to forget the fact that this game is one of firsts for many and an event that is a reward for the success found in 2022. Some players are experiencing their first bowl game, some experiencing their first season at Florida State, and some experiencing a winning season for the first time. Conversely, it will also be the last chance for many to show off their hard work in the garnet and gold.

Quarterback Jordan Travis has seen all the highs and lows that FSU has endured recently and definitely received his return on investment while throwing for 2,796 yards and 22 touchdowns, breaking numerous school records in the process. His progression is one of the several indicators of the elevation that Florida State is making and how it’s doing it — investment in its people, investment in itself.

“I think we owe it to this university,” Travis said. “Florida State gives us everything. We are blessed every single day we get to wake up a Seminole. I think we all know that.”

“There’s a couple of guys on this team; it’s their last football game at Florida State. So we owe it to them to go out there and give them 100 percent and give them a great week.”

The 2022 Seminoles intend to go out with a bang with the opportunity to leave their legacy on a program trending in the right direction. A bowl victory is the last challenge standing in the way of the ‘Noles to benchmark their 25th 10-win season.

Wednesday night, as fans gathered in waves to show support at Florida State’s block party, Norvell took the stage, passionately emphasizing once more the main message for Florida State’s (9-3, 5-3 ACC) matchup in Orlando against the Oklahoma Sooners (6-6, 3-6 Big 12) in the Cheez-It Bowl.

“It’s been great seeing our guys celebrate the opportunity that’s ahead — We’ve got one more shot to showcase our identity, what we’re all about, this 2022 Florida State football team.”