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Winners of three straight, FSU appears to have finally righted once-sinking ship

Albany native Rashad Greene has been out the last three games for Florida State, but could return for a primetime showdown Thursday at Boston College.

Albany native Rashad Greene has been out the last three games for Florida State, but could return for a primetime showdown Thursday at Boston College.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State is starting to play like many expected at the beginning of the season.

The Seminoles (5-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) have won three straight games during which they've outscored opponents by a combined 116-32. They've scored 30 points or more in seven of eight games this season and 10 of their last 12 dating back to last year.

Looking Ahead

WHO: Florida St. (5-3, 3-2 ACC) at Boston College (2-6, 1-4 ACC).

WHAT: Primetime ACC duel.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday.

WHERE: Chesnut Hill, Mass.

TV: ESPN.

LINE: FSU by 14 1/2 points.

And their defense ranks among the nation's best as they head north for Thursday night's nationally televised game at Boston College (2-6, 1-4), a team Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher believes is better than its record.

"They've had a couple of tough games," Fisher said. "They've just had a couple of bad breaks. The film doesn't relate to the record."

But for the record, BC lost close games to Duke and Northwestern, but was ripped by Central Florida, Clemson and Virginia Tech. The Eagles' only wins are against Massachusetts and Maryland last Saturday.

The Seminoles' resurgence has coincided with improvement on a reshuffled offensive line, a strong cadre of young receivers and a healthy EJ Manuel, who didn't play in the 35-30 loss at Clemson and didn't enter the Wake Forest defeat until the Seminoles fell behind 16-7 in the second quarter.

Manuel has been hot after returning full-time, completing 52 of 74 passes (70 percent) for 824 yards in wins over Duke, Maryland and North Carolina State despite not having his most dangerous target, freshman and Albany native Rashad Greene, who has missed those games with a sprained ankle. Greene, however, was back at practice Tuesday and could return against B.C. The Seminoles' depth chart lists Greene, who leads FSU with six TD catches, as day-to-day.

Manuel has also added some option runs to the Florida State attack, which has rolled up 1,407 yards in the last three games while limiting opponents to 786.

"He's been the difference in their team," North Carolina State coach Tom O'Brien said after his team's 34-0 loss in Tallahassee on Saturday. "When he went down they had problems.

The problems seemed to disappear when the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Manuel came back full-time three weeks after he suffered a separated left (non-throwing) shoulder in a 23-13 loss to Oklahoma.

Florida State, which started out the year by beating La-Monroe and Charleston Southern -- two teams with a combined two wins -- lost twice in September, once in October and is hoping for a perfect finish in hopes of an attractive bowl bid. A win Thursday would make the Seminoles' eligible for a nation-leading 30th consecutive bowl appearance.

"We can still have a successful season," Manuel said. "We'll try to control what we can control right now, take care of BC and then get ready for Miami."

The Seminoles begin a challenging November schedule with Thursday's game at Boston College before returning home to host longtime nemesis Miami on Nov. 12. Florida State finishes the season with a home date against Virginia on Nov. 19 and a visit to archrival Florida on Nov. 26.

A November sweep would leave Florida State with a 9-3 record.

"It didn't work out the way we wanted it to," Manuel said. "You can't go into a hole. You've got to focus and play football."