Florida State will open up the 2016 season with a big test in potential Top-10 opponent Ole Miss. The two teams will play on Monday night of the opening weekend of the college football season, and will have the eyes of the college football world focused on them. It's arguably the biggest game of the opening weekend of college football.
The players know that as well, and it shows during the offseason according to Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher.
"I think they get your attention very quickly," Fisher said. "Just like a couple years ago, we opened up with Oklahoma State coming out of the gate. Opened up a couple years ago with Pitt up in Pittsburgh. Anytime you have a big-time opponent like that, your off-season is ramped up. It's a natural instinct. Coaches don't have to say a word. Kids know it. They know everything that goes on. They know the importance of the game. They know the competition. That's why these guys come here. They know how to compete. But it makes your off-season, in my opinion, so enhanced. You know what I mean? It jump-starts it so much quicker.
I've been extremely pleased with our attitude and our work ethic through the summer. Our weight coaches is saying it's one of the best ones we've had in the last four or five years. You get better. If you're not, you get bit right off the bat. It's going to be a great challenge."
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze had a very similar stance on how it affects the players heading into the season.
"Yeah. Like I said, I don't know that it's a neutral site game, but we play in a lot of difficult environments in this league, so we'll prepare just like we do for a road SEC game," Freeze said. "And the good thing about playing a top five team like Florida State in the opener, it's not hard to grab the attention of your players or your staff. They understand the task that is at hand. They understand that challenge quite clearly.
So, you hope you can stay healthy throughout the grind of fall camp and then be ready to give Florida State a great game on that Monday night. You'll have the eyes of the nation on you. The kids know that. They get that. So it will be a great -- and once we get into the grind of camp, that's kind of everybody's sanctuary a bit, too. And we look forward to that."
Neither school is trying to down play the importance of this game. The entire season may not be on the line, but a loss would mean that they have to be flawless for the rest of the season to stay in the College Football Playoff race this season. A win, on the other hand, would set the tone for the rest of the season.