Greg Futch, Ken Lanier and Wally Woodham -- two Florida State offensive linemen, and one of the quarterbacks they block for -- were having lunch when someone mentioned George Cumby, Oklahoma's All-American linebacker.
Cumby and friends will be Florida State's opponent in the Orange Bowl in Miami Jan. 1.
"He's probably the best linebacker in the country," said Woodham, who, with Jimmy Jordan, makes up the FSU quarterback tandem. "He's so fast. But the main thing is, he hustles and he's got great determination."
Futch, a junior guard, seemed slightly less impressed. "Yeah, he's good," he said, swallowing some noodles, "but I think you can run right at him."
Woodham's eyes widened. "Don't say that!" he yelped. "You don't want to see that in the paper, do you?"
Bulletin board syndrome -- the fear of psyching an opponent via the printed word displayed in locker room -- apparently is creeping into the Seminoles' camp.
And with good reason. Prominently posted on Florida State's bulletin board are clippings datelined Norman, Okla., the home of the Sooners. A yellow marking pen highlights what seem to be disparaging quotes from some OU football players. Based on the comments, Oklahoma is taking its opponent lightly.
That is what the FSU players think, their 11-0 record and No. 4 ranking notwithstanding.
So do the oddsmakers, who have installed the Seminoles as eight-point underdogs.
Beating winless Florida by a closer-than-it-was 11 points on national television in Florida State's final game didn't help.
"If people are starting to believe in us, they lost it after the Florida game," said free safety Francis (Monk) Bonasorte.
"They think we're lucky, that we haven't proven anything. If we win (the Orange Bowl) they'll believe in us again. If we lose, they'll think, 'I knew they weren't that good.'"
Strongly safety Keith Jones said, "Everyone thinks we're a joke. No one believes we should be where we are. Oklahoma has the reputation and a successful string of bowls. It's the first time we've been there so people are naturally skeptical.
"We've got to show them that we deserve to be taken seriously," added Jones, whose choirboy face and a 3.7 grade-point average belie his reputation as a crunching tackler.
"Oklahoma's intention is to totally dominate us," he said. "But I don't think they've faced anyone who hits like we hit."
It would show an extreme lack of judgment on Oklahoma's part to badmouth Florida State now. The Sooners have, predictably, changed their tune, uttering nothing but compliments.
The Seminoles aren't buying it.
"Surely Oklahoma's got to be overconfident," said Bonasorte, a junior from Pittsburgh who leads FSU in interceptions, with eight.
"They"ve never heard of us. Probably the only person they've heard of is Ron (Simmons, the All-American nose guard)."
Futch, like Bonasorte, recovered from offseason knee surgery, questioned Oklahoma's desire.
"It seems like they're just going to Miami for a good time," he said with a trace of contempt.
Said Ken Lanier, a 260-pound tackle, "They probably compare us to Kansas State."
But none of this has created much ill feeling toward the Sooners. Many players understand that their rise to prominence has been sudden, and by no means indicative of a dynasty. Not yet.
"This is the first time we've been 11-0 so I'd feel the same way until I saw Florida State play," said linebacker Reggie Herring. Then he added, "I think everyone will realize we've arrived after we play Oklahoma."
Yet, after countless hours of viewing films of Oklahoma, most of the players are positively gushy in their reviews.
"The fastest team we've ever gone against," fullback Mark Lyles said.
"We've got to play above our best to stay out there with them," said cornerback Bobby Butler.
"They're better than I thought they'd be," said wide receiver Jackie Flowers. "Their defense is super. Their offense is super."
The recipient of most of the praise, naturally, is runner Billy Sims, the 1978 Heisman Trophy winner and runner-up this year to USC's Charles White.
Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden, the man credited with leading the resurgence from 0-11, 1-10, and 3-8 seasons in 1973-75 leads the parade of Billy Boosters.
"He's truly a super back," Bowden said. "Holding him to 100 yards is out of the question. A hundred-fifty would be a poor day for him. Somehow, we have to hold him in the 150-180-yard category."
Since the FSU defense allowed an average of 118.5 yards rushing per game, this all might be a reversal of bulletin board syndrome, that is, stating publicly that your opponent is the equal of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But not everyone will kiss the ground on which the Sooners tread.
"Once the ball is snapped and the play gets going it'll be just like practice," said Herring, the team's leading tackler. "Once you start breathing hard, it becomes old hat."
Along with linebacker Paul Piurowski, Herring will have a special interest in Sims. Again, no big deal.
"The first time you look at them, they're awesome," offensive tackle Tom Brannon said. "But the more we've seen them, the more we believe we have a chance to win."
Senior defensive end Scott Warren is one of five FSU starters whose football baptism was against Oklahoma in 1976 when the Sooners won in Norman, 24-9.
"We were a scared, excited team then," Warren said. "Wel'll be a mature team this time."