The Citadel-Florida St. Preview
(AP) - Jameis Winston said No. 1 Florida State did a little celebrating in the locker room after leaving the field seemingly less than thrilled with a closer-than-expected win over Oklahoma State last Saturday.
Sure, the defending national champion didn't look much like repeat material in the same stadium where the next title will be decided under the new playoff format. It was still a 37-31 win over a team that might be rebuilding but isn't exactly a slouch.
The Seminoles are all but certain to set a school record with their 18th straight win Saturday night against The Citadel. After a week off, their ACC opener is against No. 23 Clemson and No. 16 Notre Dame looms in October.
''There is no reason to get upset because I feel like we needed a great game,'' Winston said after throwing for 370 yards and running 28 yards for a score. ''And Oklahoma State was outstanding out there. They never gave up.''
The Seminoles had the nation's top passing defense last year and looked the part early in building a 17-0 lead in the $1.2 billion home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Oklahoma State's J.W. Walsh outplayed Winston in the second half, rushing for two touchdowns and throwing for another to keep the Cowboys close. But Florida State twice came up with fourth-quarter stops when the Cowboys could have taken the lead with a touchdown.
The first was a 14-yard sack on an intentional grounding call that led to a punt and a short field that helped Florida State get a field goal for a 30-24 lead. The second was cornerback P.J. Williams forcing and recovering a fumble after a hit on Walsh.
Moments later, Winston threw his only touchdown pass, a 50-yarder to Rashad Greene. He had two interceptions.
''I don't think we let down,'' coach Jimbo Fisher said. ''I think we were just worrying. I keep telling them, you don't worry about results. You worry about the process of playing well, executing well, doing the little things.''
To get back to north Texas, Florida State will have to qualify for the new four-team College Football Playoff, and win a national semifinal on New Year's Day. The title game is Jan. 12.
''We don't feel like it's a burden at all,'' Williams said. ''We're not defending last year's title because we can't lose it, so we're chasing the next one and trying to get that.''
Greene had 11 catches for a career-high 203 yards, moving into fourth on the school's career list with 2,668 yards receiving. But Karlos Williams averaged just 2.9 yards on 23 carries in his first game as the featured running back.
Winston had 15 incompletions a year after throwing just two in a spectacular debut that jump-started his Heisman Trophy-winning season.
One of his deep balls was so badly underthrown, the Seminoles got a pass interference penalty when Greene had to stop to try to catch it and a defender ran into him. But the next play, Winston led Greene perfectly on a 37-yard completion to set up one of Roberto Aguayo's three field goals.
Winston also had the signature play of the game when he scored, hurdling guard Josue Matias and sidestepping a defender on the longest run of his career.
''We didn't play well, like we wanted to play,'' Fisher said. ''But we still made critical plays when we had to make critical plays. And there is something to that.''
Florida State's Chris Casher remained listed as the starting outside linebacker on Monday's depth chart, but Fisher said his status remains unknown.
Casher was pulled from the lineup due to an "academic-related matter" shortly before the opener. He played in 13 games last season, had 25 tackles - for loss - and was expected to fill the pass-rushing role vacated by Chicago Bears linebacker Christian Jones.
The Seminoles, however, will have sophomore receiver Jesus "Bobo" Wilson back from what became a one-game suspension. Wilson pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors after being arrested for stealing a motor scooter on campus this summer.
The Citadel opened its season last Saturday with a 31-16 loss to Coastal Carolina, which reached the FCS quarterfinals last season.
Florida State beat The Citadel 62-10 in the last meeting Sept. 10, 2005, and is 5-0-1 in the all-time series.