TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State's Jimbo Fisher wants the sixth-ranked Seminoles to be focused and play disciplined football when they host Savannah State on Saturday in what shapes up to be a colossal mismatch.
The struggling Wildcats are substituting for West Virginia, which pulled out of Saturday's date with the Seminoles earlier this year.
Savannah State comes to town on the heels of an 84-0 pummeling at the hands of another Top 25 team, 18th-ranked Oklahoma State. The Seminoles (1-0) were installed as 70½-point favorites by Las Vegas odds makers.
One bright note, Savannah State is collecting paychecks totaling $860,000 for the two games, which will go a long way toward helping the financially strapped athletic program meet its total budget of $5.1 million.
Fisher has been criticized for stacking the top end of his schedule with seemingly winnable games in his first three seasons, but he says it's a matter of paying the bills — which requires seven home games, regardless of the opponent.
"It ain't about you don't want to play," Fisher said. "We'll play whoever you got on the schedule."
Savannah State is one of the weakest teams in the Football Championship Subdivision, going 4-72 against opponents in its own division. The Wildcats have scored only one touchdown in their last five games and been outscored by an average of 40 points in their last six as they prepare to face one of the nation's best defenses.
And Savannah State coach Steve Davenport has already wondered aloud whether the money is worth lining up against bigger, stronger and faster athletes across the board. He's got four freshmen starting in the Wildcats' offensive line.
"Our kids played until the clock struck zero," Davenport told the Tallahassee Democrat. "That's what I think we'll do again this week."
Fisher said he's counting on his team to concentrate on its assignments and play mistake-free football.
"That's one of the challenges," conceded Fisher, who doesn't want to lose another key player to injury either. Star defensive end Brandon Jenkins suffered a season-ending broken left foot in last week's win.
Getting his starters out early would almost seem to be a certainty Saturday. Oklahoma State had walk-ons playing by halftime during its romp last weekend.
"I hope we're that sharp," Fisher said. "I hope we don't take that for granted."
The Seminoles haven't seem to take things too casually against weaker opponents in recent times, having outscored three previous FCS teams by a combined 190-19 in the Fisher era.
Florida State demolished Murray State 69-3 in its opener last week and now seeks its fourth win over a FCS team in Fisher's third year.
Rashad Greene returned a punt 47 yards for a touchdown the first time Florida State saw the ball last week to ignite the rout over the visiting Racers. That came less than two minutes into the game. Las Vegas didn't post an over-under on how long it might take Saturday for the first of what odds makers believe will be many, many points — most likely all on the same side of the scoreboard.
Fisher decided he would not redshirt freshmen defensive ends Chris Casher and Mario Edwards Jr. after the Jenkins injury.
"We are going to start playing them and getting them involved in things," he said.
He also hopes to get a longer look at redshirt freshman quarterback Jacob Coker, who is the team's third-string quarterback behind EJ Manuel and Clint Trickett.