FSU's Jimbo Fisher sees Alabama on horizon, but knows much more lies beyond Tide

Jimbo Fisher knows Alabama awaits in the opener, but he's not biting into the talk about FSU's looming showdown in Atlanta.

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher figures he'll bump into Alabama coach Nick Saban at the NFL Draft this weekend.

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After all, the schools have combined for almost 100 draft picks this decade.

"Any time I ever want to call, I can call him any time or he can call me any time," Fisher said on the ACC teleconference Wednesday. "Sometimes he's real busy and I'm real busy, but we have a great relationship."

They'll talk, but after this weekend it's possible the next time they'll see each other will be on Sept. 2 when the Seminoles and Crimson Tide open the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta in style. Everybody else will talk about that all summer.

There's the fact Fisher was an assistant under Saban at LSU from 2000-04. There's the fact these are two of the most successful programs in the FBS. There's a chance this could be a No. 1 vs. No. 2 "Game of the Century" depending on how the preseason polls shake out.

It's the biggest opener in recent memory. There's also the fact Alabama is 7-0 in neutral-site openers under Saban and has won those games by an average of 22.9 points. USC was the last victim in a 52-6 blowout that opened the 2016 season.

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Fisher isn't biting on all that talk, however. He rattled off Florida State's openers in recent seasons, a list that includes Pittsburgh, Oklahoma State and Ole Miss. This is a speech we can get used to hearing until September rolls around.

"I mean, this is much bigger than a one-game season," Fisher said. "We have to get our team ready to play a tremendous opponent, a league opponent. They've been tops in college football here for a while and done a great job. Nick is one of the best coaches in all of ball if not the best. I mean, they have great players. I mean, it'll be a great competition, but at the same time, we have 11 games after that, and we're looking forward to the competition."

That's the right mindset for a Florida State team coming off back-to-back 10-win seasons after winning the national championship in 2013 and reaching the first College Football Playoff in 2014.

The Seminoles are looking to build on the momentum of their 33-32 victory over Michigan in the 2016 Orange Bowl. Quarterback Deondre Francois, and five-star freshman running back Cam Akers generated excitement at the spring game.

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If anything, the opener against Alabama is a game where the winner can build capital for the College Football Playoff rankings and the loser could be forgiven if it's a close defeat. Fisher is right that the season is more than one game, but this is a hell of a game to start the season.

Fisher said the culture at Florida State allows the team to focus inward every day, but every day will be one day closer to facing Alabama.

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"We play in big games at Florida State all the time," Fisher said. "We've had big openers. We've had non-openers, we've had big bowl games, national championship games, conference championship games. You know, that's — when you play at a program like Florida State, you can't worry about that. You worry about what you can control, which is yourself and the process."

Now where have we heard those last two words before?

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