The last time the Florida State Seminoles were in action, they won the national championship in a down-to-the-wire thriller. Almost eight months later, the Seminoles' first game of 2014 wasn't supposed to test them like their last game of 2013. Nevertheless, Florida State had to escape with a 37-31 win over the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Aug. 30 at Texas -- keeping alive its hopes to do better at AT&T Stadium four months from now.
A lot was made from the Seminoles playing their opening game at the same site where the 2014-15 national title game will be held. But this first visit to AT&T Stadium exposed that Florida State still has a ways to go to return to a championship form, just as Jameis Winston is still some ways from his old Heisman Trophy form.
It didn't start out that way when the Seminoles jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the second quarter. Instead of faltering as expected, however, the Cowboys made a game out of it. While Oklahoma State never led, it never got blown out by the national champions either.
The Cowboys got as close at 20-17 early in the third quarter, thanks to a 55-yard touchdown reception by David Glidden. Winston ran for a 28-yard score later in the quarter, yet Oklahoma State struck back again with a J.W. Walsh touchdown run two minutes into the fourth. All the Seminoles could do was get a field goal with over six minutes left, leaving the Cowboys with a chance to take the lead on the next drive.
Before Oklahoma State could reach midfield, Walsh gave up the football on a hit from P.J. Williams. Two plays later, Winston found Rashad Green on a 50-yard score, capping a performance where Green caught 11 balls for 203 yards. This catch was too much for the Cowboys to overcome, as they got a touchdown on their next drive and then never got the ball back again.
Nevertheless, while Winston threw for 370 yards and the game-clinching score, he also endured two interceptions and only rushed for nine yards. While the Seminoles won their first game as defending national champions, it was a much tougher effort than most of their wins from last year. And while Florida State is still a heavy repeat favorite, Oklahoma State showed that it can be challenged even before the playoffs.