ARLINGTON, Tx. - Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher is leading quarterback Jameis Winston into a new season in another NFL stadium, under very different circumstances.
Winston is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, not a freshman playing his first college game. And the Seminoles are the top-ranked defending national champions playing on the same field where the 2014 title winner will be crowned in the first year of the new playoff format.
It's all good, Fisher says of the opener against unranked Oklahoma State on Saturday night in the $1.2 billion home of the Dallas Cowboys with the giant video board hanging over the turf.
"It's good for camp. It's good for the offseason," said Fisher, whose team is trying to match a school record with its 17th straight victory. "I think it's good for college football. You can't do it all the time because schedules don't allow you to do it, but I'm very excited about this and very pleased and looking forward to the opportunity."
Winston offered quite a preview in his college debut a year ago, completing 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards in a 41-13 victory over Pitt at the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. That set the stage for the highest-scoring season in FBS history, capped by a touchdown pass in the final seconds of a 34-31 win over Auburn at the Rose Bowl in the final championship game under the BCS format.
Now Florida State is playing for a coveted spot in the four-team College Football Playoff, with the winners of those two New Year's Day semifinals coming to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' massive showplace on Jan. 12.
Don't forget that Oklahoma State is playing for one of those spots too, and these Cowboys have just two fewer wins than the Seminoles over the past six seasons. They just missed out on the title game three years ago and were angling for a spot in the conversation last year before two losses to finish the season.
"This is the most difficult year we've had in terms of returning players," said coach Mike Gundy, whose team returns 10 starters compared to 15 for the defending champs. "We'll find out where we're at. We've got good, young players in the program. They're just not very experienced."
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