Texas St.-Florida St. Preview
Although the program is moving on from one of the most successful quarterbacks in its history, Florida State's new one has some strong credentials as well.
Golson had been hailed as Winston's successor ever since the former Notre Dame quarterback transferred to FSU in May, though that ascension wasn't as clear-cut as initially believed. The graduate student withstood a stern challenge from junior Sean Maguire before coach Jimbo Fisher officially declared Golson the starter Monday.
"He came in, related to our players well and showed what kind of player he was," Fisher said of Golson. "He has a good grasp of things. Making reads, plays and getting on the edge with his legs when he has to."
Golson has a tough act to follow. Before becoming the No. 1 overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, Winston went 26-1 in two seasons as the Seminoles' starter and won both a BCS national championship and a Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman.
His replacement led Notre Dame to the 2012 BCS title game as a redshirt freshman and like Winston, endured a tumultuous second season. While Winston played through numerous distractions that included sexual assault allegations that were later dismissed, Golson missed his entire sophomore year on an academic suspension.
Golson returned to the Fighting Irish last season and amassed 3,445 passing yards and 29 touchdowns in 12 starts, though he threw 14 interceptions over a nine-game stretch prior to a Music City Bowl win over LSU.
Winston had problems of his own in that area last season, tossing 18 picks in 13 starts. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie's final college game was marred by two second-half turnovers that triggered Oregon's 59-20 Rose Bowl rout of the Seminoles in the College Football Playoff semifinals.
Golson takes over an offense that lost its two top pass catchers, wide receiver Rashad Greene and tight end Nick O'Leary, to the NFL but returns leading rusher Dalvin Cook after he was acquitted of misdemeanor battery charges last week. The sophomore had been accused of punching a woman in the face outside a bar in June.
"I'm just thankful and blessed that the truth came out," said Cook, who rushed for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns last season. "It's time to go to work - back to the field. I've been working, but now it's time to get at it."
Fisher told reporters Monday that Cook will not have any playing restrictions for the opener, and Maguire also figures to see his share of time Saturday.
The Seminoles have outscored opponents by an average of 31.8 points over a 12-game September winning streak and face a Texas State team which enters its fourth year in FBS with an 0-4 record against Power 5 schools.
Texas State had the second-fewest giveaways (12) and ranked 24th nationally in total offense and returns its two marquee players in quarterback Tyler Jones and running back Robert Lowe. Jones threw for 22 touchdowns while completing 65.4 percent of his passes and added 539 rushing yards in 2014, while Lowe had 1,091 yards and 12 touchdowns for a ground attack that averaged 238.4 yards per game.
The Seminoles ranked only 71st in run defense last season, allowing 170.1 yards per game.
Florida State will be the highest ranked of the four Top 25 opponents the Bobcats have faced, surpassing a 56-21 loss to No. 15 TCU on Sept. 19.
The Seminoles are 10-1 all-time against current Sun Belt teams, with the lone loss coming to Troy in 1947.