Home » blog » FSU vs OU Preview

Posted by on September 15th, 2011 in blog, CFF Features, Dan Pierson | 4 Comments

You’d have to be living under a rock to not know about the massive game being played in Tallahassee this weekend.  The consensus #1-ranked Oklahoma Sooners visit Doak Campbell Stadium to face the consensus #5-ranked Seminoles of Florida State at 8p.m. EST on Saturday evening.  Clear skies and game-time temperatures in the low 60’s are forecasted… with Fowler, Herbstriet, Corso and the rest of the College Gameday crew setting up shop on Langford Green just southeast of the stadium.   Oklahoma is just the 2nd top-ranked team to play the ‘Noles at the Doak, and they should provide a gigantic test to see if FSU is actually back among the nation’s elite college football programs.  FSU really hasn’t been relevant since early last decade when they were at the tail end of a ridiculous run of 14 straight seasons with 10+ wins and a Top-5 final ranking.  A victory over the Sooners would surely make the ‘Noles relevant again in 2011 and set them on a path to the BCS-title game in New Orleans (assuming they can avoid any potholes on what appears to be a relatively mild schedule).

Now that the stage has been set, let’s get into that nitty and that gritty and break down some of the key aspects to this matchup:

-        Can FSU stop Landry Jones and the absurdly talented Sooners O? – the unquestioned key to this game in my mind… OU destroyed the Seminole defense last year to the tune of 487 yds of total offense (380 and 4 tubs from Jones through the air).  Oklahoma was also 10-for-17 on 3rd down conversions with Jones making plays time after time to keep drives alive and put points on the board.  Clearly stating the obvious here, but FSU cannot let that happen again and hope to put the “defining win” on head coach Jimbo Fisher’s resume.  So how do the ‘Noles make this happen?  The straightforward answer is to get more pressure on Jones, but that’s easier said than done and actually may be counter-productive.  Last year the Sooners killed FSU with screens and quick hitters to the wideouts, negating any chance to get pressure on the QB.  Blitzing Jones more often would probably open up these quick plays even more and lead to another debacle like the 47-17 beatdown of last year.  My money says the Seminoles would be best served to rush 4 (their D-line contributed 35 total sacks last season), make sure their coverages are solid and their team pursuit to the ball is relentless.  If this year’s more seasoned FSU defense can learn from their mistakes and contain WR Ryan Broyles and Co. better, they can force Jones into bad decisions… and any Sooners fan will tell you Landry is somewhat prone to Tony Romo-style mistakes at any given moment.

-        Can the ‘Noles get their running game going? – lost amid the satisfaction in Tallahassee after the first two games is that the running game really hasn’t been overwhelming.  The stats (262 yds on the ground through the 2 games) aren’t terrible, but don’t tell the whole story.  To this point the ‘Noles haven’t really shown that they can dominate a game on the ground, something that is a necessity in any big game — particularly Saturday against such a high-powered offense.  That being said, FSU has had little reason to be anything other than vanilla in their offensive game plans.  With 2 powder-puff opponents to open the season and an eye on this impending dance with the Sooners, the Seminoles have understandably kept it pretty close to the vest on offense.  We haven’t seen many read-option running plays with QB EJ Manuel, nor have we seen many counters and such.  Basically it’s been “show them that we will run it, but don’t show too much”.  Seminoles fans can only hope OC James Coley and his staff has been cooking up ways to unleash RB’s James (Van) Wilder Jr. and Chris Thompson against Oklahoma.  I’d even like to see Manuel get out on the edge with the run\pass option and see if they can exploit some mismatches there.

-        Speaking of Manuel, can he step up in his first big game as the FSU starting QB – granted Manuel has played well when called upon, and actually has a 2-0 record as a starter in bowl games (he filled in for first-rd draft pick Christian Ponder in each of FSU’s previous 2 bowl games)… but there’s quite a big difference between playing West Virginia or South Carolina in January and playing the #1-ranked team in the nation in September at night in front of a national audience.  Manuel’s career stats are fairly good (67.2% comp., 12 td’s against 12 int’s, 396 yds and 3 td’s rushing) but nothing can truly ready him for what he’ll face against the Sooners.  FSU only gained 345 yds of total offense against Oklahoma last season (completing just 15-36 passes) and turned it over 3 times.  However, Manuel did throw for 109 yds and a td in garbage-time, so maybe he’s got a little confidence from that.  Bottom line is if Manuel steps up and plays lights out, the ‘Noles can win; if he puts up a stinker, FSU probably won’t be able to overcome it.  Hey… no pressure buddy!

Like most “FREAKS” out there, I can’t wait for this game.  The college season has given us at least 5 “instant classics” so far… and we can only hope the OU-FSU game can provide the same drama.  Regardless it’s great for the sport to have two Top-5 programs clashing in a September non-conference game.  No matter the outcome, we’ll have a great gauge of where these 2 programs stand after the game.

PREDICTION:            Jones and Co. still have a field day against the Seminole defense, but this year bad quarterback play doesn’t doom FSU.  Manuel steps up to the plate big-time and leads the ‘Noles on a game-winning field goal drive after an errant Jones throw is picked off by FSU.  Seminoles win 30-28

4 Comments

4 Comments for this entry

  1. Seminole Sam says:

    I cant wait for Chief Osceola to spike his speer at midfield on saturday night. Tallahassee Is buzzing about the moles this year, and this is a huge statement game! Go Noles

  2. BB says:

    Us Sooner fans can only hope Dmac is proven a sage and that the Romo reference is not a harbinger of doom for ol’ Landry. OU has had its strugs in the past with athletic QB’s, so I’m a bit apprehensive about their ability to bottle up E.J.
    However, I can’t worry too much about the big game until I first figure out how to add 9 + 10 so I can post this comment. Well, I’m 0-1, so let’s try this again…

  3. Dmac says:

    Pretty solid analysis, but I disagree with the outcome. Both teams are better this year, but last year was total domination by the Sooners. In addition, the offensive line was always a question for OU. It’s solid this year. Home field advantage will play a big role, and although increasingly better, Jones hasn’t always been spectacular on the road. His supporting cast is superb and the D (even minus Lewis, the leader) is solid and will keep Manuel on the ground or running for his life. Sooners take a huge step towards the National Championship, 41-30.

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