FSU exhales, but can't exactly relax



What did we learn from Week 1 of the season?

Everything ... and nothing.

We learned that Florida State isn't immune to the same disease that commonly infects defending national champions: Acute Pressur-itis.

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher admitted as much after the Seminoles' semi-joyless 37-31 win against 18-point underdog Oklahoma State at JerryWorld. He said his team felt the pressure of being ranked No. 1 -- and all that comes with trying to win elusive back-to-back national titles.

"Now I think we can relax and go play football," Fisher said.

That's nice. It's also wishful thinking.

Sure, Florida State will be able to relax at home this Saturday against FCS member The Citadel. Quarterback Jameis Winston can get a mani/pedi while the third-stringers dispose of the Bulldogs. And after the blowout win, everybody can kid themselves into thinking FSU is good to go for the remainder of the season.

But truth is, as the regular season stretches its legs and the Seminoles face Clemson, Notre Dame, travel to Louisville and Miami, and finish with Florida, the Seminoles' nerve will be tested again and again. They will get every opponent's best shot -- just like the solid punches Oklahoma State landed a couple of nights ago.

The Cowboys could have beaten FSU. They didn't, which speaks to the Seminoles' resolve, but they could have. And that reality has to be an unnerving thought for Fisher and Florida State fans.

Fisher knows how hard it's going to be to win consecutive championships. He saw what happened to Alabama (and his coaching buddy Nick Saban) last season as the Crimson Tide were undone by complacency and expectations. If it can happen to a Saban-coached team, it can happen to anybody.

FSU has the most talent, but it also has the most pressure to win. And that pressure already affected the Seminoles in the first week of the season. What will it be like by Sept. 20 (Clemson), Oct. 18 (Notre Dame), Oct. 30 (at Louisville), Nov. 15 (at Miami) and Nov. 29 (Florida)? And those are just the obvious games that could test FSU.

Early on against Oklahoma State, the Noles played like a team that thought the Cowboys ought to genuflect at FSU's mere presence. Jameis almost became famous for starting the season 0-1.

But give FSU credit -- lots of it -- for winning when it didn't have its best stuff. The Seminoles got away with it against Oklahoma State. But that won't last for an entire season.

Relax? Those days are finished.


Yes, it's only one week. Late Saturday night, ESPN's Lou Holtz begged everyone not to overreact and compared the new season to a baby being born. Translation: Nobody knows how the little whippersnapper is going to look by Jan. 12, 2015 -- the date of the first-ever College Football Playoff championship game.

OK, fair enough. But Week 1 offered some hints of things to come. So time to play, "Worry ... Don't Worry."

• North Carolina, my cool, sleeper, "Don't-I-Know-Everything" pick for 2014, trailed Liberty (another FCS member) early in the third quarter of Saturday's game at Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels, who were without four suspended defensive players, eventually pulled away to win, 56-29.

Verdict: Don't Worry.

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