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FSU, Pitt set for the national stage

12:04 PM, Sep 2, 2013   |    comments
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PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- The first three years of the Jimbo Fisher Era at Florida State began with season-openers against Samford, Louisiana-Monroe and Murray State.

Well, tonight is going to be different.

No, the Pitt Panthers aren't a juggernaut. They aren't even coming off a winning season, having finished 6-7 in 2012.

But they certainly aren't Murray State either. They are a legitimate Division-I football team. With legitimate Division I football players. And unlike the last three openers, Florida State knows if it doesn't play well tonight it could, in fact, lose.

"You've just got to be more focused and more tuned in," senior linebacker Christian Jones said of the difference between this year and his first three. "It's a Monday night game. Primetime. We'll be the only team playing. And we understand they're going to come out and try to establish themselves in their new conference."

Fellow Florida State senior, center Bryan Stork, was also asked about the disparity between this season-opener and the previous ones.

And he answered in typical Stork fashion.

"It's a double whammy," he said. "It's an ACC game and it's on the road. It's just the first game. Just go play it. It could be in the parking lot. It could be out in the middle of the woods. It's just where it's got to be. Go play."

It's not quite that simple, though.

Though certainly not a stranger to Thursday night games, this is the first Monday night contest for the Seminoles since the 2007 opener at Clemson (Fisher's first game as the FSU offensive coordinator).

It's the final game of the opening college football weekend.

College football fans from all across the nation will be tuning in, wanting to get their first glimpse of the 2013 Seminoles.

"Everybody in the country is going to be looking at one team play and I feel like that's us," senior linebacker Telvin Smith said. "It's going to be two teams on the field, but everybody's going to be looking to see what Florida State has. We always have that target on our backs. That's what we like to play with."

And as Fisher pointed out last week, it's why they're here.

Other than the annual showdowns with Clemson and Miami, Florida State doesn't get a lot of national attention when it's playing a conference foe.

But that changes, of course, when it's the only game on.

"It's a national stage," Fisher said. "That's why you're here. You want to play in these games. Look forward to going up and letting the country see our football team and how we've progressed. And I'm very anxious to see how our guys handle that situation, too. We're looking forward to the challenge."

Said senior defensive back Lamarcus Joyner: "This is Florida State ... We're in a run to try to be dominant again, so we need these kinds of games. We need that around here."

Tallahassee Democrat

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