To repeat as college football’s national champion, top-ranked Florida State plans to perform a Texas Two-Step at AT&T Stadium this season.
The Seminoles, ranked No. 1 in the coaches’ preseason poll, can become the first champion of the College Football Playoff era by surviving a four-team bracket and winning the title game, Jan. 12, 2015, in Arlington.
But the chance for Florida State to be one of the four teams in that bracket could disappear if the Seminoles lose their opener in Arlington against unranked Oklahoma State.
The teams meet Aug. 30 in the AdvoCare Cowboys Classic (7:12 p.m., WFAA/Ch. 8) and FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said Thursday he considers the team’s first trip to Arlington essential in pursuit of a second consecutive national title.
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“This is a very critical game in our season to kick it off,” Fisher said in a conference call with reporters. “Oklahoma State definitely has caught our attention.
“Kids love to play in big games ... at places where you haven’t played before. It creates more of an atmosphere like a bowl game or a playoff game. And that helps your kids when that situation comes around later. The more times you put yourself in that situation, the more it becomes normal.”
During the off-season, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston said coaches used the opportunity to open and close their national title defense at AT&T Stadium as a source of motivation, complete with the geographically challenged mantra, “From Dallas to Dallas.”
Fisher said the mission remains the same, although the buzz phrase no longer is uttered regularly in the Seminoles’ locker room.
“You say that in preseason to get guys motivated. But once the season starts, you’ve got to have a laser focus,” Fisher said. “If you want them to get to the end result, you have to have that laser focus.”
Florida State, a 14-0 finisher in last year’s final season of the BCS era, will open against an OSU team that lost 28 seniors from last year’s 10-3 squad. But the Cowboys will be more familiar with the surroundings in JerryWorld.
The Cowboys lost to Missouri 41-31 in last season’s Jan. 3 finale at the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic. OSU also fell to Ole Miss 21-7 in the 2010 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium.
OSU coach Mike Gundy said his players are “really comfortable” in the $1.2 billion facility and embrace the opportunity to try and knock off the defending national champs.
“Over the last six or seven years, we’ve played a lot of games against top-5 teams and won some of those football games,” said Gundy, whose team pounded No. 3 Baylor 49-17 last season and knocked off No. 4 Stanford 41-38 in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl. “And we haven’t always done it at home.
“There’s a core strength about who we are. Our guys understand we’re playing the best team in the country. We accept that challenge.”
Based on videotape study, Gundy estimated Florida State’s roster includes “up to 17 guys who could be on NFL draft boards” in the near future.
The list includes Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner, as well as most members of an offensive line projected to start five seniors.
“There’s a reason they’re the reigning heavyweight champ,” Gundy said.
Gundy has yet to name OSU’s starting quarterback but said J.W. Walsh, a junior from Denton Guyer, is taking 50 percent of the first-team snaps in fall drills.
Daxx Garman and Mason Rudolph are equally dividing the remaining first-team snaps, Gundy said.
Because of Walsh’s superior mobility, Gundy said: “We will change our style of play when someone other than J.W. is playing quarterback. That is something a little different than what we’ve done in years past.”
The contest is not a sellout. Tickets in various price levels remain available at www.ticketmaster.com.