The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, Senior College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: Two teams with a lot to prove square off in a tiop-25 showdown in Norman this weekend, as the 10th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners play host to the 17th-ranked Florida State Seminoles.
The Seminoles got the Jimbo Fisher era off on the right foot with a season- opening rout of Samford, 59-6. Fisher takes over the reins in Tallahassee following the departure of Hall of Fame coach Bobby Bowden, who stepped down last season and the hope is that a veteran team can lead FSU back to the top of the ACC.
Bob Stoops' Sooners have a lot to prove following a less-than stellar eight- win season in 2009. With a full array of weapons on offense and defense, Oklahoma could very well be a factor in the Big 12 again this year. It wasn't pretty by any stretch last week, but OU began the season with a victory, outlasting a pesky Utah State squad, 31-24 and earning the 800th victory in program history.
It has been 35 years since FSU has traveled to Norman to take on the Sooners. Since winning the first meeting in the 1965 Gator Bowl, Florida State has dropped four straight to Oklahoma. Four of the five all-time meetings have occurred in bowl games.
The Seminoles outplayed the Bulldogs on both sides of the ball, but were lethal on the offensive side of things, amassing 481 yards and a whopping 59 points. The team did that with Heisman hopeful Christian Ponder on the sidelines after the game got out of control. Ponder was extremely efficient in his time under center, completing 12-of-14 passes, for 167 yards and four TDs. A full stable of quality receivers complements Ponder, headlined by Bert Reed and Taiwan Easterling.
While Ponder and backup EJ Manuel were busy carving up the Samford secondary, tailback Ty Jones was moving the chains at will on the ground, averaging 13.4 yards per carry and amassing 107 yards and one TD in the game.
The wildcard for FSU is All-American return man Greg Reid. Samford tried to avoid the sophomore in the season-opener and paid the price when finally kicking to him, as Reid returned his one opportunity 74 yards for a TD.
Success was not limited to the offense and special teams for FSU in the opener, as the defense gave up just 300 yards of total offense, including a mere 77 on the ground. In addition, FSU also limited Samford to just 6-of-19 on third-down attempts, while recording 10 TFLs and four sacks.
Sophomore defensive tackle Anthony McCloud and junior linebacker Nigel Bradham led the way in terms of tackles, with six apiece.
Fisher knows that this is a chance to see exactly what he has on both sides of the football.
"It's a measuring stick to see where we're at. We'll prepare the same as we did last week and if have some success, we'll handle that. If we have some adversity we'll handle that."
The Sooners certainly have the offensive weapons to turn any game into a rout, although that wasn't the case in the opener against Utah State. There was balance between the run (195 yards) and the pass (217 yards), but sophomore QB Landry Jones completed less than half of his passes (17-of-36) and his two TD passes matched his two interceptions. All-American candidates Ryan Broyles and DeMarco Murray were sensational however. Broyles hauled in nine passes, for 142 yards and two TDs, while Murray churned out 208 yards rushing (5.9 ypc) and two more scores.
Still, to continue winning games, Jones will need to be more consistent in the pocket.
It was not a typical defensive performance by Oklahoma in the opener, as Utah State was stifled in the rush game (80 yards), but thrived in the air (341 yards). Still, this is a defense with plenty of star power and is capable of so much more.
Junior DB Jamell Fleming got his season off on a strong note, recording a team-high 10 tackles and recording one of the team's three interceptions in the game. Senior DB Jonathan Nelson was a close second with nine stops, followed by star LB Travis Lewis (eight tackles). Senior DB Quinton Carter (six tackles, one INT) was instrumental also. Ends David King (four tackles, one sack, one forced fumble) and Jeremy Beal (two TFLs, one sack) were solid up front.
Stoops knows his team will have its hands full with FSU this weekend.
It's exciting that Florida State is coming here. New coach Jimbo Fisher, not new to them, he's been there a long time, but now as the head coach, has done an excellent job. You look at their production offensively. Christian Ponder does an excellent job at quarterback. You can see the maturity as a senior. He's very athletic, more so than people probably talk about with his ability to run and his feet. Excellent arm. They have a lot of skilled players, fast guys as you expect when you watch a Florida State team. And an experienced offensive line that always does a good job.
Defensively, they have my brother Mark Stoops running the defenses. They're different than they were a year ago in their structure, probably a little more zone defense. A little bit more of our style of defense. In their first game they really played well. You could see the discipline in players who are in positions to make plays. Again, you see an athletic team."
With Mark Stoops pulling the strings on defense, FSU isn't going to be surprised with what the Sooners do on offense. That being said, knowing what's coming and stopping it are two different things.