The defending national champion Florida State Seminoles won their season opener against Oklahoma State, 37-31, Saturday night. But it was not easy.
The teams met at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas. Entering the game, Florida State was ranked number 1 in the nation. Oklahoma State wasn’t ranked. And a game that was supposed to be a blow out turned out to be a nail-biter.
At one point, the Seminoles led 17-0 then were up 27-17. But the Cowboys got within a field goal in the fourth quarter.
“Hungry, we got to get more hungry,” said Jameis Winston, Florida State quarterback and last year’s Heisman Trophy winner.
Florida State’s first touchdown of the season came with the offense sitting on the bench. Seminoles defensive back Nate Andrews tipped then intercepted a pass and ran it in for a touchdown.
Winston had a rocky game. He threw two interceptions (tying a career high) and nearly went without a touchdown for the first time in his career. But in the final minutes, he threw a 62-yard pass for a touchdown that helped seal the victory.
Earlier in the game, he had passes of 51 yards and 61 yards. Winston finished the game 25 of 42 for 370 yards.
“I had two bad turnovers,” Winston said. “You got to learn from your mistakes and you’ve got to bounce back.”
His best play came with his feet.
In the third quarter, Winston broke off a run where he hurdled a teammate, and when he landed he spun away from a tackler. He then fought off two more defenders to score a touchdown.
It was a controversial play, though. As Winston crossed the goal line, the ball was getting knocked out of his hands while his knee was touching the ground around the 1-yard line. The officials called it a touchdown at the time and the replay review was considered “inconclusive.” So the call on the field stood, and it was a touchdown.
“We just needed a (big) play,” Winston said. “Everybody just got together and was just like, ‘We have to score a touchdown.’ Everybody contributed on that play. That was amazing. I had no choice but to put the ball in the end zone.”
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher knows that he has a team that can win. But, he said, “Last year is over with.”
After their opening game, it’s clear the Seminoles have a lot of work to do if they want to end this season where it began – at AT&T Stadium, the site of the national championship game on Jan. 12.
"It's not about being great,” Fisher said. “It's about playing great.”
Photos: Tony Gutierrez/AP Photo, courtesy Jake Aron