A superb defensive effort and a fourth-quarter rising by the offense means high marks for a Sooner squad that earned OU's best non-conference victory (regular season) since beating Ohio State in 1977:
LANDRY JONES' HEISMAN CAMPAIGN: A
The OU quarterback's numbers were just so-so — 18 of 27 passing, 199 yards, two interceptions. But he stood tall in the fourth quarter with an 83-yard touchdown drive, with Jones' five completions accounting for 73 yards. His 37-yard TD pass to Kenny Stills will be one of college football's plays of the season.
Bob Stoops called it a “clean” game, but the Sooners actually had more penalty yards (60) than did Florida State (57). The Seminole penalties seemed to hurt more, though. Stoops was on point throughout the game. After Austin Haywood received a taunting penalty on the second half kickoff, teammate Casey Walker danced after tackling FSU fullback Lonnie Pryor for a five-yard loss. Stoops promptly pulled Walker from the game and gave him an earful.
JAVON HARRIS' ATHLETIC ABILITY: A
Now we know why Harris beat out Dom Whaley for the tailback spot at Lawton Mac four years ago. Harris' 69-yard, cross-country interception return featured some nifty cutbacks and physical running. It also gave the Sooners a field goal and a big lift just before halftime. And Harris' diving interception in the fourth quarter helped seal the game.
HANDLING PRESSURE: A
Doak Campbell Stadium rocked with the biggest crowd in FSU history, 84,392. Not only was the rank and file jazzed, but Chris Weinke, Brad Johnson and Derrick Alexander were among the former Seminole stars who dotted the sidelines. Florida State had all the momentum after tying the game 13-13 – then OU dominated the final 9:32.
GOAL-LINE OFFENSE: D
Shades of College Station last November. The Sooners twice settled for field goals after first-and-goal situations. On the first, they had first down at the Seminole 6-yard line and tried three straight Whaley runs. On the second, they had first down at the FSU 3-yard line, but Jones had throwaway passes sandwiched around another Whaley run. OU's lone red-zone success came on Jones' 1-yard sneak for a touchdown after Whaley's nine-yard run.
TRESS WAY: A
A monster punting game for the Sooner junior. Punts of 51, 51 and 46 yards, all downed inside the FSU 15-yard line, plus a 37-yarder when the Sooners were backed up on their own 1-yard line.
NEW WRINKLES: C
O-coordinator Josh Heupel shocked the Seminoles with a power game in the first drive; 10 running plays in a 15-play drive that included nine plays with Jones under center. But the ploy worked less and less as the game continued, and the Sooners rallied to victory in the fourth quarter using their old standby – a shotgun-based passing game.
Sooner fans turned out in droves, an estimated 9,000, and they were much-needed to help counter the Florida State frenzy. For a place that's not easy to reach, an excellent turnout. Not that such a mob wasn't expected.
The Sooners didn't play nearly as fast as usual. Give credit to Mark Stoops' defense; Florida State seemed to befuddle Jones much of the night. But on the tie-breaking drive midway through the fourth quarter, OU's tempo quickened considerably.
PASS RUSH: A
The Sooners got after FSU quarterbacks E.J. Manuel and Clint Trickett all game long, but the heat intensified in the fourth quarter. Trickett went down five times in the final 15 minutes, and it was a team effort. Aaron Colvin, Frank Alexander, R.J. Washington, Tom Wort, Ronnell Lewis and Tony Jefferson accounted for the fourth-quarter sacks.
BRENT VENABLES: A
The oft-maligned defensive coordinator produced a superb plan, with constant and varied blitzes. Florida State's three scores came on field goals of 53 and 46 yards, plus a 56-yard TD pass in which Sooners Jamell Fleming and Harris were in position, they just out-athleted by leaping Seminole Rashad Greene.