Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida State's Alabama attitude: 'They have to play us, too'

TALLAHASSEE — It looks like the biggest game this side of the one for the College Football Championship. The goal is to reach Atlanta. Florida State and Alabama will begin there, with a bang.

The Seminoles against the Death Star.

Jimbo Fisher against his old boss, Nick Saban.

There has got to be an easier way to begin a season than against the Crimson Tide (8 p.m., Sept. 2, ABC), ranked No. 1 in the coaches preseason poll. But go talk to the No. 3 Seminoles.

"They gotta play us, too," FSU safety Derwin James said.

That is the pose Florida State struck at media day Sunday, and it seems real enough.

Never mind that Saban's program has opened the last five season by crushing nonconference opponents Michigan (pre-Harbaugh), Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Wisconsin and USC by a combined score of 196-70. Last season, the Tide pulverized USC, 52-6.

That's what FSU is up against.

"They've got to play us, too," Fisher said.

He went on:

"We're the two winningest teams in America the last seven years. We're the two winningest programs in America, bar none. That's what you want to see. Everybody wants to see the best play the best. Whether we turn out that way will depend on the season. I think it's a great opportunity. It's also a great challenge. That's what life is. That's what ball is."

The Seminoles, after the complete embarrassment at Louisville, the shocker against North Carolina, and the late loss to Clemson, rallied for a 10-3 season, including a fabulous come-from-behind Orange Bowl win over Michigan. Something to build on. And, last season at least, Alabama couldn't beat Clemson, either.

Not that a loss to Alabama in the opener would completely destroy FSU's season. Nor would a win over Alabama guarantee anything down the road. But hype is hype, and there will be copious amounts of it before this opener.

"It's a blessing to play Alabama," FSU quarterback Deondre Francois said. "These are moments that guys like me pray for. I could really set my legacy off with a game against 'Bama."

Be careful what you pray for.

"I love hype," said the ebullient James, a preseason All-American, "We play the champs (Clemson) and the defending champs (Alabama) and the SEC runner-up (Florida). We play Miami and Louisville. We're playing everyone. I love it. We're all hungry."

Then again ...

"You can't make mistakes against Alabama," James said. "They'll make you pay. You got to come out from the start. If you don't, you'll be looking up at 21-0."

I think FSU will make this a real game. I don't think they'll go in scared or in over their heads.

But call me at halftime just the same.

"Listen, hype goes away. Fundamentals win," Fisher said. "Hype games are more for the fans than us. All games are important to us. We don't take any game lightly. At the same time, I understand all the hoopla that goes with it. At the end of the day, all those cheers before a game, all that hype goes away. It doesn't mean you can't be emotional, but are you prepared to play? That's got to be the key component."

"These games are why we came to Florida State," FSU receiver Auden Tate said.

Death Star, on its way.

"We're by far not where we want to be, but no one is at this time of year," Fisher said. "It's the daily process, being prepared to go into the things, like taking a test or a class. It's no different. You've got to read every chapter. You can't bypass Chapter One to get to Chapter Four."

It's one heck of a Chapter One.

Contact Martin Fennelly at mfennelly@tampabay.com or (813) 731-8029. Follow @mjfennelly

Here's to the winners

Most wins by an active coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision since 2010:

1. Nick Saban, Alabama – 86

2. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State 78

3. Dabo Swinney, Clemson – 76

4. Chris Petersen, Washington/Boise State – 70

5. Urban Meyer, Ohio State – 69

Florida State's Alabama attitude: 'They have to play us, too' 08/07/17 [Last modified: Monday, August 7, 2017 12:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa lawyer Fred Ridley to be new chairman of Augusta National, Masters' home (w/ video)

    Golf

    AUGUSTA, Ga. — Fred Ridley first came to Augusta National to compete in the 1976 Masters as the U.S. Amateur champion, and he played the opening round in the traditional pairing with the defending champion, Jack Nicklaus.

  2. Rays send down Chase Whitley, Andrew Kittredge; add Chih-Wei Hu, activate Alex Cobb

    Blogs

    After having to cover more than five innings following a short start by Austin Pruitt, the Rays shuffled their bullpen following Wednesday's game, sending down RHPs Chase Whitley and Andrew Kittredge,

    The Kittredge move was expected, as he was summoned to add depth to the pen Wednesday in advance of RHP Alex …

  3. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred moves closer to wanting a decision on Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Wednesday for urgency from Tampa Bay area government leaders to prioritize and move quicker on plans for a new Rays stadium.

    MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with reporters at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    The Austin Pruitt experiment might be over, or at least put on pause. After allowing six runs over seven innings to Seattle on Friday, the rookie didn't get through the fourth Wednesday, giving up five runs on four homers. His ERA for past six starts: 5.29.

  5. Six home runs doom Rays in loss to Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — A curve that didn't bounce was the difference Wednesday as the Rays lost 7-6 to the Blue Jays in front of 8,264, the smallest Tropicana field crowd since Sept. 5, 2006.

    Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (11) greets center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) at the plate after his two run home run in the third inning of the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.