TALLAHASSEE -- Florida State may play more physically than Duke. Its players may have more size than Duke's. They may even be lightyear's faster.

But, to the Blue Devils, none of that matters.

All they care about is coming to Tallahassee this weekend to win and to prove a point.

On paper, the Seminoles may appear to be the more athletically gifted and superior team of the two with their massive list of former four- and five-star recruits filling the roster. The awards inside FSU's football trophy cases also vastly outweigh the ones the Blue Devils possess, too.

When the teams meet inside Doak Campbell Stadium around 3:30 p.m. Saturday, though, all of that -- the general athletic advantage, the success advantage and the historical advantage -- goes out of the window. On a warm late October afternoon, the Blue Devils seek to put a halt to their 17-game losing streak to the Seminoles.

They seek to prove the little guy can play this game, too.

"At the end of the day," Duke cornerback Ross Cockrell said to the News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), "athletic ability doesn’t determine who is going to win a football game."

Technique, four-quarter focus, fast starts and brilliant finishes are the Blue Devils' keys to success. Stay within themselves, avoid the likely chaotic environment they will encounter with FSU's expected large homecoming crowd and build off the 20-0 first-quarter start against another "stronger, faster, bigger" opponent, and a win won't be out of the cards this weekend.

At least, that's what the Blue Devils are telling themselves.

---This week's Friday links begins with that story, written by friend of the program, Laura Keeley. The News & Observer's Blue Devils beat reporter spoke with players this week about what they need to do in order to hang for a full game with the Seminoles.

The story linked there mentions some of those characteristics mentioned above.

For the record, after a 20-0 start at Virginia Tech several weeks ago, the Blue Devils ended up stumbling to a 41-20 defeat to the Hokies.

---The Herald-Sun's (Durham, N.C.) Steve Wiseman breaks down the potential return from injury of a pair of Duke players this weekend. Backup quarterback Brandon Connette and receiver Conner Vernon appear ready to bounce back, Wiseman writes here. The Blue Devils are more optimistic on Vernon than Connette, though. Connette was listed as Questionable on Duke's Thursday injury report.

Vernon, on the other hand, wasn't listed at all on the injury report after hurting a knee when he was intentionally blindsided by a North Carolina player last weekend. The Miami native also is expecting a large group of supporters to travel to Tallahassee. He sits just 94 yards from surpassing former FSU receiver Peter Warrick and setting a new ACC career receiving record.

---Moving over to the FSU side of things, we have this Orlando Sentinel story on the late-arriving bye week the Seminoles have this year. In years past with the Blue Devils on the schedule this late in the year a week ahead of it, it would have been easy for FSU to look toward it and dismiss their opponent. But with a much-improved Duke team, they know they have to lock in for just a few more days and then they can finally rest, relax and recharge.

 

---After a week of training to replace the injured Chris Thompson, FSU's sophomore running backs, James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman, appear ready to roll, coach Jimbo Fisher said. Fisher said the pair has begun embracing some of the intangibles that made Thompson such a strong runner, and even better blocker.

Email me at coharvey@orlandosentinel.com, and follow on Twitter at @os_coleyharvey.