The hype started in spring and built up over the summer.
It grew in the preseason and reached a crescendo this past week.
Then Florida State and Pittsburgh kicked off on Monday night and Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston calmly walked out onto the field and lived up to the hype.
All of it.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound redshirt freshman completed 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns (with no interceptions) and added another 25 yards rushing (with a score) in FSU’s 41-13 win over the Panthers.
Winston made it look easy against the hapless Pitt defense, hitting open targets and setting the school single-game completion percentage record while running the Seminoles’ attack with the poise of a seasoned veteran. The excellence he displayed in his debut overwhelmed a good early showing by the Panther offense and spurred the Seminoles to their fourth-straight season-opening win. On this night, at least, the ‘Noles looked like a national title contender.
Before the hype gets too out of control, though, consider that Pitt is not really a good barometer for where FSU stands as a team. The Panthers just didn’t have the talent to contain the ‘Noles. But other teams coming up on the schedule will be more familiar with the tendencies of Jimbo Fisher’s offense and that is when Winston will truly be tested. Last year’s FSU team was loaded with talent, but it still found a way to lose to North Carolina State.
But forget about that for now. FSU fans have a valid reason to feel good after tonight. After all, they’ve got at least two full years to watch this elite talent lead their team. It should be a fun ride. The challenge for Fisher will be to manage the expectations and not put too much on his young freshman, especially when it comes to the playbook. The challenge for Winston is to stay resilient when the inevitable drop-off from tonight’s otherworldly production takes place.
Is Winston a legit Heisman candidate? I’d say that’s a bit premature. Yes, voters gave the Heisman to a freshman last season, but based on the perception of how that’s played out, they might think twice before doing it again.
Auburn got back in the win column after two straight losses. While winning a game must have felt nice, head coach Gus Malzahn is not prepared to say whether or not Sean White will be the team’s starting quarterback moving forward.
“I thought he competed; he did some good things,” Malzahn said after the game Saturday, per Al.com. “We’ll take this thing week-to-week like we’ve been doing it. We’re starting to kind of get good answers to the questions that we needed.”
White replaced Jeremy Johnson at quarterback last week against Mississippi State. Johnson, a preseason Heisman favorite for some, struggled out of the gate of the season with six interceptions thrown and a lost fumble. That forced Malzahn to make a change at quarterback after a woeful performance against FCS Jacksonville State and a loss to LSU. White lost his first game as a starter against Mississippi State but the offense has been marginally better. White has yet to throw a touchdown pass in his first two starts.
Against San Jose State, White completed six of 10 pass attempts for 1087 yards. Auburn’s running game is what helped push the Tigers by the Spartans, with Peyton Barber scoring all five touchdowns in the 35-21 victory. Auburn’s next game is in two weeks against Kentucky, on Thursday, October 15 in Lexington.
The Ohio State Buckeyes remain atop the AP Top 25 this week, but the Big 12’s top contenders have bumped Michigan State down two spots. No. 2 TCU picked up five first-place votes and managed to stay ahead of No. 3 Baylor despite the Bears getting 10 first-place votes.
No. 5 Utah picked up seven first-place votes and No. 9 Texas A&M received the last first-place vote available. The big mover in this week’s AP poll was No. 11 Florida, with the Gators jumping 14 spots in the poll after dismantling Ole Miss Saturday night. The Rebels dropped from No. 3 down to No. 14. No. 15 Notre Dame fell nine spots after losing at No. 6 Clemson. No. 19 Georgia also tumbled this week, down 11 spots after being blown out at home by Alabama. It was also a rough week for No. 20 UCLA, falling 13 spots after losing to Arizona State at home.
New teams in the AP poll this week include No. 22 Iowa, No. 24 Toledo and No. 25 Boise State. Iowa and Boise State also made appearances in the coaches poll earlier today, but Toledo did not. Memphis appears in the coach spill but is the third team in its own conference in the others receiving votes category, behind Houston and Temple. Memphis tied with division foe Navy in that category as well.
- Ohio State (38 first-place votes)
- TCU (5)
- Baylor (10)
- Michigan State
- Utah (7)
- Texas A&M (1)
- Florida State
- Ole Miss
- Notre Dame
- Oklahoma State
- Boise State