Oklahoma State’s football team has a tall task Saturday — a matchup against No. 1 and defending national champion Florida State in the Cowboys Classic.
But if the game comes down to a last-minute field-goal attempt from the Cowboys, don’t expect the pressure to affect sophomore place-kicker Ben Grogan.
Grogan will be right at home.
Grogan grew up in Arlington and played two games at AT&T Stadium as a high school kicker at Arlington Martin.
“It will be a cool experience to get to be back home for such a big game,” Grogan said. “All of my immediate family will get to be there.”
As a senior at Martin, Grogan was the first-team kicker on the 5A all-state squad after making 9 out of 11 field-goal attempts, with a long of 56 yards, and converting all 40 extra points he attempted.
Last season, Grogan took over as Oklahoma State’s starting kicker from Week 1. He led the Cowboys in scoring with 100 points as a freshman, making 11 of his 18 field-goal attempts (two were blocked) and hitting on 67 of his 68 extra-point attempts.
“I didn’t think they would redshirt me, so I knew I needed to be ready right away,” Grogan said. “In college, there’s normally someone faster and more talented at your position. So it can be tough to start as a freshman. But it’s different for kickers. Except for worrying more about getting your kicks blocked, it’s the same.”
In high school, Grogan connected on six field goals, three from more than 50 yards away, against North Crowley in 2012. The year before, Grogan made a 46-yard kick late in a game against Euless Trinity through extreme wind in the 5A state semifinals to help send the Warriors to the state title game.
“That game against Trinity, those high-pressure situations, and kicking from those distances in high school really helped me prepare for college,” Grogan said.
As a sophomore, Grogan expects to feel at home in every situation.
“I think I’ll be a lot more comfortable this year, with my snapper and holder and everything,” Grogan said.
Grogan and the rest of the Cowboys hope to challenge Florida State and compete for the Big 12 title when conference play starts.
“Knowing we are playing such a good team has helped us push harder and focus more in camp,” Grogan said. “A lot of people think we are young, not top tier. We are young, but we are ready to play.”
Games to watch
No. 2 Alabama vs. West Virginia (2:30 p.m. Saturday, WFAA/8): We will get our first look at the Crimson Tide post QB AJ McCarron, complete with new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, in this matchup at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
No. 16 Clemson at No. 12 Georgia (4:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN): The great conference debate will heat up quickly with top teams from the SEC and ACC squaring off.
No. 13 LSU vs. No. 14 Wisconsin (8 p.m. Saturday, ESPN): Another kickoff classic, this one in Houston, where all the talk has been about new quarterbacks on each side. But this one should come down to the Badgers’ pounding ground game going against LSU’s tough defensive front.
1Player to win two Heisman Trophies. Ohio State’s Archie Griffin won the award in 1974 and ’75. Florida State’s Jameis Winston will try to become the second this season.
8SEC teams ranked in the AP Top 25 entering the season, the most of any conference. The Pac-12 is second with six ranked teams.
Quotable• “I injured myself in a fall.” — USC cornerback Josh Shaw in a statement released through his attorney. In a bizarre twist, Shaw admitted he did not suffer two high ankle sprains after jumping off a balcony to save his nephew from drowning — his original story that had quickly elevated him to hero status. The true cause for Shaw jumping is still unclear.
• “So, I know for a fact he’ll win the Heisman.” — Auburn backup quarterback Jeremy Johnson said to an AL.com writer when asked about starting quarterback Nick Marshall.
Tweet of the off-season
After Oregon (@OregonDuckTix) revealed it will use scratch-and-sniff tickets this year, one scented like a Carl’s Junior burger, people began speculating how their university’s tickets would smell. The Stanford athletic department (@GoStanford) had the best response, tweeting one word: “Roses.”
Rising, falling, holding steady
Playoff: With the 16-year reign of the BCS system a thing of the past, all of the focus will be on who will make the football Final Four, which will be grand until the selection committee leaves someone out.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes went from a popular pick to challenge for the Big Ten and national titles to an underdog after quarterback Braxton Miller reinjured his throwing shoulder, which will keep him out all season.
Florida State: The Seminoles finished the final year of the BCS by defeating the Auburn Tigers for the national championship, and Florida State starts this season as a favorite to repeat.
Grading the Power 5
ASEC: Even though Auburn lost to the Seminoles, the SEC is still the perceived bully conference.
A-ACC: Thanks to Florida State ending the SEC’s seven-year winning streak in BCS championship games, the ACC is riding high entering this season.
A-Pac-12: No. 3 Oregon and No. 7 UCLA are starting the season as elites, but the conference has several more solid teams and some big-game opportunities against other conferences ahead (the Ducks will play No. 8 Michigan State in Week 3).
B-Big 12: After Oklahoma and Baylor, the Big 12 doesn’t get much respect. And the conference doesn’t have a good shot at improving its image this week. Unranked Oklahoma State’s matchup against No. 1 Florida State is the only interesting Week 1 game.
CBig Ten: The Big Ten needed Ohio State to be dominant, but the Buckeyes are a big question mark. At least the Big Ten has a chance to start proving itself right away — ranked Wisconsin takes on ranked LSU on Saturday.
QB Jameis Winston, sophomore, Florida State: Last season, 257-for-384 passing for 4,057 yards and 40 touchdowns to 10 interceptions
QB Marcus Mariota, junior, Oregon: Last season, 245-for-386 passing for 3,665 yards and 31 touchdowns (four interceptions) to go with 715 yards and nine touchdowns rushing on 96 attempts
QB Bryce Petty, senior, Baylor: Last season, 250-for-403 passing for 4,200 yards and 32 touchdowns to three interceptions