College Game Scout: FSU at OU

FSU travels to Oklahoma for the first big test of the season. College Game Scout has a preview of the contest.

GAME SNAPSHOT

KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 ET

GAMEDATE: 9/11/10

SURFACE: Grass

TV: ABC

SERIES: Oklahoma leads 4-1, including a victory in the 2001 Orange Bowl which wrapped up the Sooners' most recent national championship.

POLLS: Oklahoma (10 AP, 10 USA Today), Florida State (17 AP, 18, USA Today)

PREDICTION: Oklahoma 27-24

KEYS TO THE GAME:

-- Oklahoma must finish plays. That was the primary culprit in OU's giving up more than 20 yards per completion against Utah State. OU coach Bob Stoops said it immediately after the game and again Tuesday. His defensive backs were in the right spots only to not make the required play. Offensively, the Sooners can't press. Quarterback Landry Jones wasn't nearly as sharp as he was at the end of last season. If he can be himself, and the rest of the offense can relax, it should be a better Sooner team with the ball.

-- Florida State's defensive performance will be critical in its upset hopes. How will new defensive coordinator Mark Stoops fare against his older brother, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, in this chess match? Both should know each other's tendencies and how they like to do certain things. FSU's defense played very well last week, even considering the lightweight opponent. But if FSU is to stay in this game, the Seminoles have to slow down the Sooners' offense and rattle Jones, who filled in so well last year for injured Sam Bradford. They have to keep this game close. Offensively, the Seminoles will seek to maintain that run-pass balance with tailbacks Jermaine Thomas and Ty Jones, along with Ponder throwing to a deeper corps of receivers.

SCOUTING THE TEAMS:

Oklahoma is hard to figure out after one game. The Sooners' star receiver, Ryan Broyles, caught nine passes for 142 yards and their top runner, DeMarco Murray, gained 218. But their quarterback completed less than half his passes and, as a whole, the offensive converted just 5 of 17 third-down attempts. Both head coach Bob Stoops and offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson hinted the Sooners weren't themselves. Stoops said they might have been trying to play too perfectly. Wilson said they played on "eggshells." They need to get better quickly on Saturday. The Sooners coaches say that OU's defense wasn't really that far off against Utah State. Still, it allowed 5.6 yards per play, and more than 20 per completion. Aggie quarterback Diondre Borel connected to six different receivers with passes of at least 29 yards. The Sooners' saving grace against the Aggies was three interceptions and three sacks. Against the Seminoles, they'll try to make those turnovers without giving up the big plays.

Florida State was able to run and pass against Samford with equal effectiveness, shuttling a lot of players as they worked. They didn't show any new wrinkles that might be unveiled this week against Oklahoma. The big thing was QB Christian Ponder returning to form and receiver Bert Reid catching his first TD pass in two seasons. The Seminoles proved their backfield has three capable tailbacks and Ponder was often provided all day to throw. The Seminoles also were noticeably faster on defense in the opener, producing five sacks, a blocked punt, an interception that enabled the offense to enjoy a cakewalk. Now comes the big test for new defensive coordinator Mark Stoops against his older brother. This game will have an emotional edge for him, along with the rest of FSU's defense, which will be seeking to prove itself. At least in the first game, the Seminoles did not allow a big play -- a marked contrast from last season.

FAST FACTS:

Sooners: Oklahoma notched the 800th victory in the history of the program last week against Utah State ... DeMarco Murray produced career-best totals of 35 carries and 218 yards in Oklahoma's opener ... SS Tony Jefferson and WR Kenny Stills became the first true freshmen to start for Oklahoma in an opener since Tommie Harris in 2001 ... Oklahoma leads the nation with a 31-game home winning streak ... The Sooners can break a record of 69 consecutive sellouts on Saturday.

Seminoles: New coach Jimbo Fisher started his tenure with a victory. He will follow a similar career path as his predecessor, Bobby Bowden, who coached at Oklahoma in his third career game with FSU. It will be Fisher's second game ... The Seminoles have won two of their last three road games at top 10 opponents. The matchup between Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and Florida defensive coordinator Mike Stoops will be the first time that the brothers have coaches on opposing teams in college football ... None of the four primary Florida State running backs -- Ty Jones, Jermaine Thomas, Chris Thompson and Debrale Smiley -- were dropped for negative plays in 21 combined carries against Samford ... The entire Florida State offensive unit shared offensive player of the week honors for their performance against Samford ... Florida State QB Christian Ponder grew up in Dallas and will play before many friends and family members in the game at Norman, which is about a three-hour drive from his home.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Sooners:

RB DeMarco Murray -- He carried the ball 35 times for 218 yards against Utah State. However, he did not catch a pass. For OU to be successful against Florida State, Murray likely needs another big game, but his touches could come in different ways this time.

SR Ryan Broyles -- Against Utah State, Broyles was the one big bright spot among receivers, catching nine passes for 142 yards. The hometown product out of Norman High School may be the best receiver in the country and is a player to watch every week.

CB Jamell Fleming -- Fleming was conspicuously burned against Utah State, but he also intercepted a pass, broke up other passes and made a highlight reel interception. Mentioning Fleming on Tuesday, Bob Stoops appeared to place the emphasis on what he did well. Perhaps the Sooners have a budding star in the junior cornerback.

SEMINOLES:

QB Christian Ponder -- After throwing a first-quarter interception against Samford -- the ball was deflected at the line of scrimmage -- Ponder led FSU's offense on five consecutive touchdown drives to finish the half last week. He threw only one more incompletion before giving way most of the second half to backup E.J. Manuel. But Oklahoma is the best team Ponder will face in two seasons -- remember, he didn't play last year against Florida. And part of the national attention on this game will be to see if Ponder is the real deal, whether he can lead a team in a game like this one.

CB Greg Reid -- On the only time Samford punted to him, Reid broke it back 70 yards for a touchdown. He is a game-changer on punt returns and is forcing teams to purposely kick the ball out of bounds, which adds to FSU's increase in field position. This week, Reid will get his best test as a starting corner, going against Oklahoma's best receivers.

OT Zebrie Sanders -- He led FSU's offensive line, making his 23rd consecutive start against Samford, and played well enough to be named the ACC offensive lineman of the week. He earned a team-high grade of 90 percent for his performance against Samford. He did not have a missed assignment or collect a penalty, after film grading by coaches. The 6-foot-7, 325-pound Sanders will be in constant one-on-matchups with Oklahoma's talented rush ends.

INJURY WATCH:

Sooners:

LB Travis Lewis (rib, probable), RB Mossis Madu (suspension, probable), DE Frank Alexander (ankle, probable), DT Adrian Taylor (ankle, probable).

Seminoles:

FS Nick Moody (groin, doubtful)


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