ABC captured the tenseness of top-ranked Oklahoma's 23-13 victory over Florida State with a close up of OU coach Bob Stoops as Jimmy Stevens' 31-yard game-clinching field-goal attempt barely got off the ground but crossed through the goal posts. Stoops shook his head while looking down at the field.
The Sooners struggled for much of three quarters, but ABC announcers Brent Musburger and Kirk Hersbstreit gave them their due when they finished strong in the nationally televised game.
“That's impressive,” Hersbstreit said. “The No. 1 team on the road in a tough environment. They made a statement and justified their No. 1 ranking.”
Musburger said, “It puts them on track to get a spot in the national championship game.”
After the Seminoles tied it 13-13 on Rashad Greene's 56-yard touchdown pass from Clint Trickett, which Herbstreit called “a really poor play by the Oklahoma secondary,” the Sooners struck quickly to regain the lead. The drive culminated with Landry Jones' 37-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills, which marveled Herbstreit. “Look how strong Kenny Stills' hands are to be able to secure that,” he said.
In Florida State's biggest nonconference game in years, Herbstreit was impressed with the noisy crowd. “This place has not been this loud since Chris Weinke was quarterback. It's been about 10 years.”
He said FSU's momentum changed when starting quarterback E.J. Manuel was sidelined with a shoulder injury. “I'm not making excuses for Florida State, but when E.J. Manuel went out of the game, the game plan changed and the vibe in the stadium changed.”
Herbstreit was impressed with the Sooners' offensive line play on its first series in taking a 7-0 lead. “The thing I noticed is different for Oklahoma is the way the offensive line is coming off the football,” he said.
But later on he said the line wasn't getting the job down as the Sooners settled for field goals twice after getting inside the 10 yard line. “In this area, you've got to be able to run the football and push people off the line of scrimmage,” he said.
* Most emotional coach award goes to Clemson's Dabo Swinney in an interview with sideline reporter Quint Kessenich after Clemson rallied to defeat Auburn 38-24, ending the Tigers' winning streak at 17 games. “I can't think of a better place to end the streak than Death Valley, South Carolina, baby!” he shouted while surrounded by a mob of Tiger fans. Analyst Urban Meyer noted the improvement of Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, calling him an All-ACC quarterback.
* ESPN analyst Bob Davie, a former Notre Dame coach, was off base with his early assessment that he expected the Texas-UCLA game to be a low-scoring affair. The Longhorns won 49-20, aided by two touchdown passes by Chase McCoy, brother of Colt McCoy. “Colt McCoy has to be smiling up in Cleveland,” Davie said.
* Brad Nessler was impressed with Miami's defense in its 24-6 victory over Ohio State on ESPN. “The ACC has the Big Ten on its heels in South Florida,” he said.
* Looking ahead late in West Virginia's 37-31 victory over Maryland, ESPNU announcer Rob Stone said the Mountaineers' prospects looked good if they could get past visiting No. 3 LSU next Saturday night in a game that will air on ABC. “It sets up almost Boise State nicely,” he said of West Virginia's remaining schedule.
* A highly emotional moment came when the Army team sang the alma mater along with cadets after upsetting visiting Northwestern 21-14 on CBS Sports Network. “They overwhelmed a physically overpowing opponent, especially on the defensive side,” said analyst Randy Cross.
* In a surprising scene on ESPN's “College GameDay,” former Florida State player Lee Corso, with screaming Seminole fans in the background and three of his grandkids on stage with him, picked OU to win the game. “It's strictly business,” Corso said as he placed a miniature Sooner Schooner on his head. With OU's victory, Corso correctly picked headware games the third week of the season for 12 straight years.
ESPN studio analyst Lou Holtz said he was impressed with OU after picking the Seminoles to win. “I want to apologize to coach Stoops, the Oklahoma football team and every Oklahoma Sooner fan. I thought Florida State could beat them. … I never saw Oklahoma as impressive as they were tonight. They’re physical. They ran the football. They played great defense. They were just impressive. I’m a believer now.”