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OSU Faces A Daunting Task Against No. 1 Seminoles

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STILLWATER, Oklahoma -

Many expect this to be a rebuilding year in Stillwater. As a result, the Cowboys haven't been given much of a shot at beating No. 1 Florida State.

And, despite all of the winning Oklahoma State has done the past few years, OSU coach Mike Gundy confirmed that this is a massive task for his team and not just because the Cowboys are young.

“They're as good as any team that we've ever played in my opinion. I'm not trying to build them up into something they're not but they're pretty good,” Gundy said during Thursday's media luncheon in Stillwater.

And the further you dig into the Seminoles, the more daunting this matchup appears.

The Seminoles have won 16-straight games, including a 14-0 campaign last season capped with a national championship victory against Auburn.

FSU has had 18 players selected in the past two drafts but the talent pool if far from depleted in Tallahassee. According to NFL.com's Mike Huguenin, the Seminoles could have as many as six players who will be taken in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft and the potential for 12 draft-eligible players to be selected next May.

That's a lot of talent and that's not even including Jameis Winston, who became the youngest Heisman Trophy winner in history last season after putting up more than 4,000 passing yards and accounting for 44 total touchdowns as a redshirt freshman.

The Noles also return 14 starters from a team that ranked No. 2 in scoring offense (51.6), No. 6 in total offense (519.1), No.1 in scoring defense (12.1), No. 1 in passing defense (156.6), No. 3 in total defense (281.4) and No. 3 in turnover margin (+17). Oh, and they return Lou Groza Award-winning kicker Roberto Aguayo, who connected on 21-of-22 field goals as a freshman in 2013.

If you're looking for weaknesses in Florida State, they're not easy to come by. And Gundy knows the Pokes will have to play mistake-free football to contend.

“When you play a team that's this good, you really have to try to organize and get rolling early. You can't press. I think if you press and try to put (inexperienced players) in a situation they're uncomfortable with, it can actually add to the issue,” Gundy said. “We've been pretty good around here for a long time and we're very aware of how good this team is.

“They've got a lot of players coming back. The guys they have playing that aren't returning starters, they played lots of snaps last year. This is a very, very mature and athletic football team.”

Florida State has the firepower and experience to contend for back-to-back championships but the Pokes have taken down a defending champion before, beating Oklahoma in such situations twice (1976, 2001).

However, OSU has never beaten a team ranked No. 1 in the nation, going 0-10 in those matchups. The most recent instance was a 28-24 loss against Texas in 2008.

But that doesn't mean OSU hasn't won big games lately, including a smackdown of No. 3 Baylor last season, a victory against No. 4 Stanford in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl and a big upset of second-ranked Missouri back in 2008.

But even with history and inexperience against them, the Cowboys are excited for the opportunity and want to prove themselves on a national stage.

“We like this chance we have,” fullback Teddy Johnson said. “We want to show the country that what we're able to do, so we're really excited to play Florida State on opening night.”

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