Here we are. No. 5 Notre Dame against No. 2 Florida State. It’s the biggest game of the season for Seminoles. ESPN’s College Gameday is coming to Tallahassee for the second time, their third Florida State game this season. It’s an 8 PM kickoff on ABC, with ESPN/ABC’s top crew Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler on the call. Basically what has become just another Saturday for the reigning national champions, who have been in the spotlight before.
Just one starter, true freshman Lorenzo Featherston, was not on the team when Florida State dismantled Clemson 51-14 in 2013. The same goes for the National Championship game in January. College Gameday was at Florida State’s first game of the season, a 37-31 victory over current No. 15 Oklahoma State in Dallas. They came to Tallahassee for the Florida State-Clemson game. The Seminoles were without the reigning Heisman trophy winner Jameis Winston and still prevailed in overtime 23-17.
This team knows how to play in the spotlight. They know how to win. That doesn’t mean they don’t pay attention to the atmosphere. They relish it.
“It’s exciting,” said cornerback P.J. Williams. “I love playing games like this. I love when all the fans come and the stadium is packed under the lights. It’s an exciting atmosphere and I love it.”
Florida State has been at home for just one of the games listed above, and defensive back Tyler Hunter says that it makes a difference.
“It’s big,” Hunter said. “Just knowing that we’re playing at home in a Top-5 matchup and College Gameday is going to be here.”
As for whether the atmosphere adds any extra pressure, linebacker Terrance Smith says it’s exactly the opposite.
“It’s become a common thing here,” Smith said. “That’s why you come to Florida State, to play in big time games like this. Adding College Gameday and primetime doesn’t add any pressure. That’s just what we do. We’re going to play no matter what team we’re lining up against. We’re going to play Florida State football.”
Head coach Jimbo Fisher has mentioned “eliminating the clutter” many times during his four-plus years at Florida State, but during Monday’s press conference, even Fisher embraced the atmosphere.
“I am glad we are in Doak Campbell,” Fisher said. “I am glad we are here at home with our fans and our people and those things. That is for sure.”
The Seminoles will surely be in for a fight against the Irish, but one thing is certain. The big stage isn’t going to beat Florida State.