When top-ranked Florida State boarded its team plane for Dallas on Thursday night, it left the phrase “Dallas to Dallas” behind in Tallahassee.
The moniker became popular over the summer among FSU’s players and coaches, a reference to where the Seminoles begin their 2014 campaign and also where the College Football Playoff will hold its inaugural championship game.
But now that the first phase of that plan has arrived and FSU is set to kick off against Oklahoma State in the Advocare Cowboys Classic, coach Jimbo Fisher wants the phrase erased from his team’s vocabulary.
“It was good for preseason,” senior receiver Christian Green said. “We talked about it, and a lot of the hype surrounding us and the ‘Dallas to Dallas’ thing.
“But he told us to focus in on what we have to focus in on, and that’s Oklahoma State.”
Under coach Mike Gundy, the Cowboys have built a reputation as one of the nation’s steadiest programs. They went 10-3 a year ago, nearly played for the national title in 2011 and have won at least 10 games in three of the past four seasons.
But prognosticators haven’t given OSU much of a chance to beat Florida State.
FSU is a 19-point favorite thanks to a roster that features Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston and a host of All-America candidates.
The Cowboys, meanwhile, lost more lettermen from last year’s team than any program in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
So the odds are heavily stacked, but Fisher insists he isn’t buying into it.
And to make that point clear, he’s adopted a new phrase: “Don’t eat the cheese.”
He picked this one up from one of FSU’s guest speakers. It roughly translates to, “Don’t believe the hype.”
“It means don’t buy into everything everybody’s telling you,” Fisher said. “How great you are, how this, how that. Don’t eat the cheese.
“Don’t be the rat that eats the cheese.”
The hype will be on overload in Arlington, Texas. ESPN’s College Gameday pregame show will be there, and the Dallas-Fort Worth area figures to be crawling with Seminoles fans traveling to FSU’s first game in Texas in more than 20 years.
Fisher embraces the expectations. He’s just quick to caution that it can all go away if the Seminoles don’t take Oklahoma State seriously.
If they eat the cheese.
“We’re not worried about reaching the national championship. We’re worried about playing well,” Fisher said. “Our goal is to be in the national championship every year. I want this team to be the best team it can be, play as good as it can play. Then we’ll live with the results.”
Saturday: No. 1 FSU
vs. Oklahoma St.
Kickoff: 8:07; AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas.
TV/radio: ABC; WFTL 850.
Favorite: FSU by 19.
Series: FSU leads 3-1.
FSU injuries: Doubtful — LB Matthew Thomas (ankle). Out — LB Delvin Purifoy (leg), LB Ukeme Eligwe (foot).
Oklahoma St. injuries: No reported injuries.