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FSU hopes opener carries it to title, a la '93

Evaluated simply for its achievement and without any historical context, it could be considered the greatest goal-line stand in college football history. Twelve plays inside the 9-yard line, half coming from inside the 1, and each time Florida State denying upset-minded Kansas.

Factor in national implications -- it was a season opener in August against and part of a 42-0 rolling of the unranked Jayhawks -- and it pales in comparison to the 1979 Sugar Bowl.

But for Mickey Andrews, that goal-line denial sits in the pantheon of Florida State football. After six straight seasons of falling just short of a national title, the former Florida State defensive coordinator credits that sequence, which took nearly eight minutes in nearly 120-degree conditions, for shaping the Seminoles' first national championship team.

"We had to meet them about three-fourths of the way and drag them off the field," Andrews said. Ken Alexander, Derrick Brooks and Corey Sawyer, who combined for the final fourth-down stop, laid on the blistering AstroTurf unable to get up as the referee signaled in Florida State's direction. "They didn't have anything left."

That was the season opener of the 1993 season, Florida State playing Kansas, which finished the prior season ranked in the top 25, at the Meadowlands, a national venue. The drive eclipsed 20 total plays, and Florida State committed four penalties inside the 10. While the Seminoles would win by six touchdowns, it was that particular drive that came at the end of the half when the Jayhawks were within two scores. Florida State held a dozen times in the shadow of its own goal post, then marched down the field with a 99-yard touchdown drive to put the game out of reach.

"That made our football team right there," Andrews said.

A season-opening game against a major-conference opponent on a national stage has the potential to alter the trajectory of a season, Andrews said. On Saturday, No. 1 Florida State travels to the state of Texas for the Cowboys Classic against Oklahoma State in AT&T Stadium. It's a prime-time game, and one "College GameDay" will be at.

Much like Kansas, Oklahoma State finished the previous season ranked, although pollsters are not quite as high on the Cowboys in 2014 as they overhaul their starting lineup. Regardless of the strength of the opposition, a nationally relevant opponent on the road or at a neutral site to begin the season can effect the next four months. Florida State, which is using the hashtag #DallasToDallas to define its title defense aspirations, hopes the Aug. 30 game will do just that this fall.

"The better it is for us to play on those kinds of stages," Fisher said.

Andrews served as Bobby Bowden's defensive coordinator for 27 seasons, and the two were never shy to play a national championship-caliber opponent to begin the season. From 1988-98, Florida State opened its season with a ranked opponent away from the confines of Doak Campbell Stadium on four occasions. Eleven times from 1988-03 the Seminoles began the season with a road or neutral-site opponent.

Bowden said the prospects of an opener with national implications sets the tone for offseason workouts and preseason camp. There is an added motivation for players and coaches alike when the opponent isn't an FCS cupcake.

"The thing about opening against a good team is it makes your boys get ready faster," Bowden said. "If you play a smaller division or someone you're favored by 25 points against, you're careful you won't have a letdown. But when you play a big one, they're usually ready to play."

Andre Wadsworth was a senior defensive lineman for Florida State in 1997 when the Seminoles opened at USC in The Coliseum. Wadsworth said the team began the season with an added focus on executing its offense and defense as it knew any self-inflicted wounds against a team the caliber of Southern Cal could derail a potential national championship season before it truly began. Florida State defeated USC, and the Seminoles would win their next 10 games before a three-point loss to Florida in the finale that ended a perfect season and hopes of a national title.

"The thing is to define yourself as early as possible as a team," Wadsworth said.

Fisher, in his fifth season at Florida State after replacing Bowden, said entering camp that the game against an Oklahoma State program that has averaged 10 wins since 2010 had the Seminoles focused and practicing at peak performance throughout preseason two-a-days. Fisher said he embraces the challenge, and the rest of team is itching to arrive at "Jerry World" and play on the biggest of big screens -- one that stretches 60 yards.

"That game is going to be electric," quarterback Jameis Winston said. "Florida State, we love to be in big games with millions of people watching us. That's what's fun, that's what football is for.