TALLAHASSEE -- The dust had not settled as Florida State’s players were hitting the showers, and the final few fans were still trickling from the stands in the wake of the Seminoles’ 63-0 stomping of Maryland.
But FSU coach Jimbo Fisher — always with an eye on the bigger picture — already knew the story that was developing.
“It’s one game. Keep it in perspective,” he said. “Kids today — because now we’re going to be world-beaters — they get distracted. That whole mentality, you’ve got to stay in the moment, you’ve got to stay in what’s going on [now]. You can’t get caught up one way or the other.”
It was already happening as FSU’s fourth-year coach spoke. Highlights of Jameis Winston’s 393 passing yards and five touchdowns were surging across the Internet. National pundits were hard at work penning their Florida State stories.
By the evening, the Seminoles (5-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) had been inserted into the national title conversation. On Sunday, the Seminoles had jumped up to sixth in both The Associated Press and the USA Today coaches’ polls.
And with that Fisher’s job became two-fold. He has to keep the Seminoles on track on the field while also keeping them from buying too much into their own hype off of it.
And it’s going to be hard not to.
Maryland entered the game ranked 25th by AP. The Terrapins had the third ranked scoring defense in the country and were averaging just under 40 points per game on offense. By the end of the game, FSU tied the record for the biggest margin of victory over a ranked team in Football Bowl Subdivision history and Winston — earning plenty of national attention already — had a career day.
Perhaps more impressively, the same defensive unit that surrendered 200 yards on the ground at Boston College a week ago gave up just 33 yards rushing to the Terrapins.
“I don’t think we were that far away last week,” Fisher said. “It’s never as good as it seems and it’s never as bad, sometimes a few inches here and there can be drastic. And in [terms of] the momentum of a game and things that go on and your focus, we were just much more consistent [on Saturday].
“We had a chip on our shoulder. We had an edge. We did what we have to do, and that’s the way you’ve got to play all the time. You cannot play — I don’t care who you play — you have to have the edge.”
Keeping the edge for the next game against No. 3 Clemson should be easy. The game will receive an abundance of national hype, and the Seminoles are likely to be road underdogs. There will be no lack of motivation. The same should be true for archrivals Miami and Florida, too.
Fisher knows he’s got a very good team this year up — perhaps the best he has fielded in his time at Florida State.
But he also knows that as the national hype grows, so does the potential for his team to lose its edge. And that — short of Clemson — may be the biggest challenge Florida State faces this season.
“You’re always very close to success and very close to failure,” Fisher said. “You have to walk that line every day.”