2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 3 - Oklahoma at FSU
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Sept. 17 Oklahoma 23 ... at Florida State 13
CFN Analysis: COMING
(AP) TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Kenny Stills reached high to grab a 37-yard touchdown pass from Landry Jones midway through the fourth quarter for the tiebreaking score, and Oklahoma's defense made the lead stand as the top-ranked Sooners beat No. 5 Florida State 23-13 on Saturday night.
Javon Harris picked off two passes for the Sooners (2-0), who forced three turnovers and harassed both Florida State quarterbacks all night.
The Seminoles (2-1) played the final 20 minutes without starting quarterback E.J. Manuel, who left in the third with a left shoulder injury.
Backup Clint Trickett kept the Seminoles in it. He hooked up with freshman Rashad Greene for a 56-yard touchdown on a third-and-28 with 9:32 left in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 13.
But on the next possession, Jones went deep down the sideline to the 6-foot-1 Stills, who easily outleaped the 5-8 Greg Reid for the touchdown.
Trickett couldn't respond. On the next drive, he had a pass tipped at the line by Ronnell Lewis, and Harris came up with his second interception near midfield. Just like the first pick, Oklahoma turned it into a field goal, this one from 31 yards out by Jimmy Stevens.
Jones finished 18 for 27 for 199 yards with two interceptions, though he did become the school's career passing leader, moving past Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford.
A rematch of a lopsided 47-17 Oklahoma victory in Norman last season, this was more reminiscent of the most important game these two heavyweight programs have played. The Sooners won their last national championship in 2000 by beating the Seminoles 13-2 in the Orange Bowl.
The Sooners scored a touchdown on their first possession and one of the most potent offenses in the country didn't find the end zone again until the fourth quarter. Florida State looked as if it would never get there.
Then Greene's touchdown sent most of the record crowd of 84,392 at Doak Campbell Stadium into hysterics. Like Stills, he went high in traffic to come down with Trickett's pass then broke free from the pack and raced for the score.
Trickett was 7 for 15 for 134 yards for Florida State, which had no running game beyond Manuel's 49 yards.
Oklahoma seemed to pick up right where it left off last year in Norman on the first drive of the game, zipping down field with little resistance for an 80-yard drive that ended with Jones' 1-yard touchdown sneak.
Dustin Hopkins booted a 53-yard field goal to make it 7-3 with 2:42 left in the first.
Turnovers, penalties and defense dominated the rest of the way.
Manuel made some nifty plays on the run, jumping over one of his lineman on the way to a 12-yard gain in the second quarter. But the junior also was intercepted twice in Oklahoma territory. The first was on a ball batted into the air behind the line and grabbed by linebacker Tom Wort.
The second came late in the half when Harris grabbed a high throw and returned it 69 yards to the Florida State 3 with 1:19 left in the quarter.
But for the second time in the half, the Sooners got inside the 5 and settled for a field goal. After a penalty pushed OU back, Stevens kicked a 29-yarder to make it 13-3 as time expired in the half.
Florida State's best shot to get in the end zone in the first half came when Manuel found Kenny Shaw deep down the middle inside the 5, but the receiver was sandwiched by Wort and Harris, taking a double-helmet shot, and the ball came out. The Sooners were flagged 15 yards for the hit and Shaw lay motionless on the turf for several minutes. He was carted off, conscious and moving his arms, and taken to the hospital for X-rays. He later returned to the sideline in the fourth quarter.
The Sooners' defense got a boost with the return of star linebacker Travis Lewis, who came back earlier than expected from a broken left toe to start against Florida State.
With 5:42 left in the third quarter, Manuel was swarmed under by Oklahoma on a third-and-2 play that never had a chance and the quarterback came off the field wincing, holding his left arm close to his body. He went to the locker room to have his shoulder examined, and Trickett took over the offense after Lamarcus Joyner intercepted a deep ball by Jones.
With no running game to help him, Trickett, a redshirt freshman and the son of Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett, led the Seminoles to Hopkins' 46-yard field goal to make it 13-6 with 53 seconds left in the third.
Oklahoma (1-0) at Florida State (2-0) Sept. 17, 8:00, ABC
Here's The Deal … It's not too insanely over-the-top to suggest that this could be one of the biggest games for the future of college football.
Florida State appears to be on the verge of being really, really good again, with head coach Jimbo Fisher putting together some tremendous recruiting classes and after coming off a strong building-block season. With all the expansion talk and all the rumors and speculation about various conference realignment scenarios, Florida State is one of the key parts to the overall puzzle, and if it can knock off No. 1 Oklahoma and be in the national title chase, it'll prove that the program really might be back to form. It's all about timing, and the school's bargaining position would be greatly enhanced with what would be the biggest win since beating Virginia Tech for the 2005 ACC title.
For OU, this is its chance to make its own statement of dominance. The Pac-12 already wants the Sooners, but a win – remember, it's all about timing and it's all about pumping up the images of the programs – would do even more for bragging rights and positioning.
Of course, all the off-the-field aspects are just about the speculation. The fact is that the winner of this game will control its own destiny for the national championship. OU is already in a top two spot and will play for it all by winning out, while Florida State would almost certainly move into the top two with a win and a 13-0 season.
Jimbo Fisher and Florida State, your time is now.
The official end to the Seminole dynasty was January 3rd, 2001, when Oklahoma showed it was back to stay as a superpower with the 13-2 win in the Orange Bowl for the national title. Since then, the Noles have been above average, at best, losing three games or more in each of the last 11 seasons after going 14 years in a row without losing more than two games. Last year, they weren't ready for the big stage, getting embarrassed by the Sooners 47-17 in a game that wasn't even that close. A season later, this is a mature, confident team that rolled through its first two layup games and appears to be fully tuned up and fully ready for the showdown.
Oklahoma looked the part in the opener, blowing out Tulsa 47-14, but for all the good things the program has done under Bob Stoops, and for all the wins and all the Big 12 titles, it has to shed the tag of being merely average when it leaves its state's borders. Under Stoops, since 2000, OU is 0-3 – losing national title games against Florida and USC and losing a 21-20 battle with Miami in 2009 – in the state of Florida, and is just 7-9 away from home since against BCS conference teams, BYU, and Boise State.
The Sooners have had two weeks off to prepare, and they get Missouri to kick off the Big 12 season next week, while Florida State blew away ULM and Charleston Southern by a combined score of 98-10 and starts out a three-game road trip next week at Clemson. OU is 5-1 in the series with three of the wins coming in classic Orange Bowls, and the lone loss coming in the 1965 Gator Bowl.
Why Oklahoma Might Win: The Florida State pass protection has been a bit spotty over the first two games. Part of that is because the line is trying to protect a mobile quarterback in E.J. Manuel, and part it is because the line hasn't been that strong. The running game wasn't able to do much against ULM and Charleston Southern, getting stuffed for 92 yards by the Warhawks in the season opener, and the hope is for the front five to be fully jelled and ready after two shaky weeks. OU's defensive front is nasty in the interior and fast on the outside, and if the FSU line has to prove it can hold its own better than it did early on.
The bigger problem for FSU could be turnover margin; the Noles can't win if they don't at least play the Sooners to even. The defense has come up with just one interception so far, and while the offense hasn't lost a fumble, Manuel threw two picks last week and now will be under even more pressure to push the ball down the field. OU lost a fumble against Tulsa, but it came up with two recoveries along with a pick.
Why Florida State Might Win: The OU back seven is still suspect. The secondary gave up 271 yards in the opener against Tulsa, and while most of those game in comeback mode, the chances were there for big plays. The depleted linebacking corps is still good despite the death of Austin Box and the injury to Travis Lewis, but it gave up a few decent runs to the Golden Hurricane and missed a few stops. FSU has to play this game fast, fast, fast and it has to get its skill players on the move at the OU linebackers. Everyone on the Sooner defense can run, but the safeties are just okay, and the chances will be there for Manuel to connect on the deep ball if he gets time to work. He'll have to be patient, but if he can hit the open man, he'll be able to nail OU on the post pattern for a few home runs.
On the other side of the ball, the Noles have the pass rush to get to Landry Jones and disrupt the timing of the attack. The Sooner offensive front was fantastic against Tulsa, but the Florida State line has the pass rushers to generate consistent pressure from the outside and has experience and toughness in the interior. The runs that OU was able to get two weeks ago will likely dry up against a run defense that allowed just 120 yards over the first two games. The FSU offense might need a little bit of fine-tuning, but everything is working more than fine on the other side of the ball.
What To Watch Out For: Is Manuel ready for the big stage, and does FSU have the firepower to keep up in a shootout? One of the nation's top recruits of 2008, Manuel is a 6-5, 234-pound playmaker with a unique array of physical skills, but he has yet to show he can put up big numbers in a really big game. He was great against South Carolina in the bowl win, completing 11-of-15 passes, but he only threw for 84 yards and a touchdown. Now after throwing for 581 yards and six touchdowns with two picks in his first two games, he has to make every right decision and he has to take advantage of every opportunity while keeping the mistakes to a minimum. This game is on him, and if he doesn't play well, and if he has problems turning the ball over, FSU can't win.
OU quarterback Landry Jones destroyed Florida State last season, completing 30-of-40 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns as he spread the ball around efficiently and effectively, but he has to be very, very careful with the ball. He threw 12 picks last year with two coming at home against Tulsa and the other ten all coming on the road. Of the 28 career interceptions, four were against Tulsa, and 20 of them were when OU was away from Norman. He'll be under pressure all game long as FSU brings the pass rush from all sides, and his decision-making has to be dead-on; he can't force the ball when things break down and he has to be willing to throw it away.
What Will Happen: Welcome back, Florida State. It'll be a wild back-and-forth game with both teams landing haymakers early, but the Seminole defense will tighten up late and force two key turnovers to stop Sooner marches. The Noles have been waiting for this rematch ever since last year's embarrassment and they'll play up to the moment. Doak Campbell will be rocking for the first time in a very, very long time, and with one big win, the landscape of the 2011 college football season will change.
CFN Prediction: Florida State 34 … Oklahoma 31
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Oklahoma -4 O/U: 55
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