LOS ANGELES – Oregon coach Mark Helfrich noticed the body language almost immediately as he began watching Florida State's game film about a month ago.
The Seminoles carried themselves in a way that was peculiar, almost abnormal. Even when FSU was down, Helfrich observed a sort of bravado in which Seminoles players knew, sooner or later, they'd make a play that proved they were better than their opponent.
"You don't win 29 games in a row with luck. Ever," Helfrich said. "They're just unflappable in a lot of ways. Again, they get everybody's best shot. The team that's playing them this week has had their best week of focus, their best week of preparation, trying to dethrone the champs and to be resilient enough to come back and win all those games is, again, very, very impressive."
No. 3 Florida State (13-0) will again get someone's best shot. This time, it comes in the form of No. 2 Oregon (12-1), which is the most explosive and dynamic team FSU has seen to date. The Seminoles put their 29-game win streak on the line in the Rose Bowl.
The winner advances to the national championship.
On the field, the Seminoles have faced adversity at every turn this season, taking and absorbing everything opponents have thrown their way.
Off it, Florida State has been billed by many as one of the most hated programs in the history of college football.
The Seminoles have been in seven games this season that haven't been decided until late in the fourth quarter or overtime. Through all the turmoil and controversy, one thing has remained constant: FSU keeps winning.
"This is probably the most resilient group of guys I've ever been around in my life," Seminoles offensive lineman Cam Erving said. "We don't accept 'no,' and we always find a way to win. Scratch and claw and whatever we need, we make plays at the right time."
And when things are going poorly FSU has managed to play its best.
"It's not about you playing when everything is going good," Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston said. "It's how you react when things are going bad and things are not going your way."
FSU is battled tested, something it could not say last season on the way to winning the national championship. Still, there is a growing sentiment that playing in one close game after another has either prepared FSU for this moment or will have worn the Seminoles down.
But throughout the week leading up to the Rose Bowl, coach Jimbo Fisher and his players exuded a sense of ease mixed with confidence.
"A burden was let off for some reason, and I don't know why," Fisher said.
Conversely, Oregon is in uncharted territory. Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota said the media blitz that comes with winning the Heisman Trophy has been grating.
"We always feel the pressure, somehow people seem to count us out," Oregon linebacker Derrick Malone said. "So right now, we've got to prepare and prove and shock the world."