Mike Gundy quarterbacked against the likes of the 1986 and 1987 Sooners, and he was an assistant coach against the likes of the 1994 and 1995 Cornhuskers, and he was head coach against the likes of the 2008 and 2009 Longhorns, and he’s seen plenty of Andrew Luck and Stanford, and Eli Manning and Ole Miss, and Kordell Stewart and Colorado.
But of Florida State, which will meet the Cowboys on Saturday night in Arlington, Gundy says, “They’re as good as any team we’ve ever played, in my opinion. They’re pretty good.”
Pretty good might describe the 2014 Seminoles. We’ll know soon enough. It does not describe the 2013 Seminoles, who went 14-0 and won the national championship. And Florida State returns enough veterans — five possible first-round picks in the upcoming NFL Draft, 11 ACC preseason first-teamers — to make you think the ‘Noles will be dominant again.
The memories of these Cowboys don’t go back to the days of Barry Switzer and Tom Osborne. They don’t remember Colt McCoy or Robert Griffin III. Heck, less than 30 of these guys ever have played in a Big 12 game. But these Cowboys know quality when they see it.
“I think that this team as a whole will probably be one of the better teams we will ever face,” said OSU defensive tackle James Castleman, one of the few seniors who will be called into action Saturday night. “I also think this team offensively, their O-line and receiver corps, will be probably the best we will face. This offensive line is probably the biggest all around. They average around 310 pounds, so that’s the biggest I’ve ever seen since I’ve been here. I’m excited to play against them. I’m excited to play against the Heisman winner. I’m excited about all of it.”
Recent OSU history is full of games against great quarterbacks. Griffin. Ryan Tannehill. Luck. Sam Bradford. Chase Daniel. Graham Harrell. Geno Smith. McCoy. But very recent? No. 2013 was a down year for Big 12 quarterbacking. So the Cowboys will have to get up to speed quickly against Winston.
“Jameis Winston, he is the control of that offense,” said linebacker Ryan Simmons. “The offensive line is great. Everything works around Jameis and the o-line. That whole interior area is top of the line.”
The Seminoles start five seniors on the line. And while the receiving corps is rebuilt, “We have heard that they have Olympic speed, but covering receivers like that is going to be fun.”
It will be fun for awhile. Then it could get even more fun, if the Cowboys can hang with one of the best teams they’ve played in the nearly 30 years Mike Gundy has been involved with OSU football.