Jameis Winston and No. 1 Florida State might have to play better for a return trip to the stadium where the next national title will be decided.

At least the reigning champion Seminoles didn't leave the $1.2 billion home of the Dallas Cowboys with a season-opening loss.

Winston threw for 370 yards and scored on a sparkling 28-yard run to smooth over some rough spots, and Florida State tied a school record with its 17th straight victory by holding off Oklahoma State 37-31 on Saturday night in Arlington, Texas.

"We've got to get better," Winston said. "I told our guys ... we've got to go higher."

The sophomore quarterback wasn't nearly as efficient as he was in the college debut that jump-started his Heisman Trophy season a year ago. But he made plays when it mattered to help the Seminoles hang on after almost squandering a 17-0 lead.

The unranked and rebuilding Cowboys were 19-point underdogs but stayed close when J.W. Walsh matched Winston's scoring run with a 24-yard sprint and dive across the goal line to get within 27-24 early in the fourth quarter.

"You don't ever know what to expect with so many young players on the field," said Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, whose offense has only two players with at least 10 career starts. "But we never saw any fear in any of their eyes."


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Winston's only passing touchdown was a 50-yarder to Rashad Greene, who had 203 yards receiving. Winston was 25 of 40 with two interceptions and several other misfires a year after throwing just two incompletions to beat Pitt in his debut.

"We all preached it, but I do think they felt the pressure of being No. 1. I do," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "Now I think we can relax and go play football.

"We're still a work in progress," Fisher said. "We all know that."

Tide senior stellar in debut

Fifth-year senior Blake Sims played well enough in his first career start to keep playing as No. 2 Alabama held off West Virginia 33-23.

Sims was 24 for 33 for 250 yards, added 42 running, threw one interception in the fourth quarter, and took every meaningful offensive snap.

Tide coach Nick Saban had said leading into the game that both Sims and Jake Coker, the Florida State transfer, might play, but there was only one point during the game that he thought about pulling the starter.

It came in the second quarter.

"And it wasn't his play, it was ... he called a couple formations wrong in the huddle, he called a couple plays wrong," Saban said of Sims. "There was some confusion on the field."

Saban said he suggested going to a no-huddle offense to new coordinator, and former USC coach, Lane Kiffin, and the tempo helped settle Sims.

"But all in all for him to throw for 250 yards, he did a pretty good job of executing all in all, and I'm happy with his progress," Saban said.

He added "We're looking forward to how we can help him improve as well as Jake, too."

Penn State wins in Ireland

Sam Ficken's 36-yard field goal as time expired lifted Penn State past the University of Central Florida 26-24 before a crowd of 55,000 in Dublin.

Central Florida had taken a 24-23 lead with 1:13 left on quarterback Justin Holman's 6-yard touchdown run. But Christian Hackenberg -- capping a 32-for-47, 454-yard performance -- directed a seven-play drive to set up Ficken's fourth field goal of the game.

"There was only a minute or so left in the game, and I looked across the sideline and there wasn't doubt in anybody's eye. Everybody believed. They believed in Hack. They believed in Ficken," said James Franklin, who got his first victory as Penn State's coach.

Irish QB sharp in return

Everett Golson looked better after a year off than he ever did in helping Notre Dame get to the national championship game two seasons ago.

In his first game back after missing last season for academic impropriety, Golson threw touchdown passes of 75 and 53 yards and became just the third Notre Dame quarterback to run for three touchdowns in a game as the Irish beat Rice 48-17.

"Everett Golson was electric," coach Brian Kelly said. "He kept his eyes down field. He knew when to run. He knew when to throw it."

Golson was 14-of-22 passing for 295 yards and ran for 41 yards on 12 carries.

Golson said it was the type of comeback he envisioned while spending a semester away from Notre Dame.

"That's what inspired me through all the training and all the days of me just working out by myself. I think that's what helped me get through it," he said.

Because of privacy laws, Notre Dame never disclosed why Golson was suspended from school. Golson said he used "poor judgment on a test," but never elaborated.

Putting up big numbers

Todd Gurley, Georgia, ran for 198 yards and three touchdowns and returned a kickoff 100 yards for another score in the 12th-ranked Bulldogs' 45-21 victory over No. 16 Clemson.

  • Ameer Abdullah, the nation's top returning rusher, ran for a career-high 232 yards and eclipsed 3,000 yards for his career in No. 22 Nebraska's 55-7 rout of Florida Atlantic.

  • Jacobi Owens of Air Force, rushed for 233 yards in his debut to help the Falcons beat Nicholls 44-16.

    The Swamp deemed unsafe

    The Idaho-Florida game was postponed because of unsafe field conditions. No makeup date was scheduled.

    Florida Field, which is known as The Swamp, became unplayable after hours of heavy rain. The season opener for both teams started after a nearly three-hour lightning delay -- and then stopped after 10 seconds.

    The latest lightning strike within 8 miles of the stadium sent players back to the locker room seconds after the opening kickoff. The game was called about 50 minutes later.