Normally, I will highlight a few important games each week but there is one very big one that I will like to put all the focus in on this week. It's always good to have things differ (even if just slightly) from week to week.
The No. 1 ranked Oklahoma Sooners will be traveling to Tallahassee, Florida to face the No. 5 ranked Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on Bobby Bowden Field.
There are a few intriguing storylines heading in to the game. Jimbo Fisher will be heading in to his 17th game as the head coach for the 'Noles while Bob Stoops will enter his 161st game as the Sooners head coach. Both coaches have quite the resume of success and both have seen their fair share of Bowl Games. Of course Fisher spent most of his time as a quarterbacks coach previous to getting the job as head-honcho at Florida State.
But probably the most intriguing story of this game will be Stoops vs. Stoops. There are four Stoops brothers coaching in college football at some level or another. Florida State happens to have Mark Stoops as their defensive coordinator and of course OU has Bob Stoops as their head coach. Then of course Mike Stoops (head coach at Arizona) and Ron Stoops (Linebackers coach at Youngstown State). Here is a little funny, side-note story on the four comparing to the Baldwin brothers.
Both teams have very high-octane offenses. Both teams have young and talented players on defense. Most likely the game will turn for which ever team is able to play better defense early on.
Last year when these two teams met up, Florida State was ranked 17th in the nation while the Sooners were ranked 10th. The final score of that game was 47 - 17 Sooners. Although many of the same players remain on the roster, I suspect that this game will be a bit closer. The Seminoles' offense has gotten stronger and they should see much better quarterback play in this game from E.J. Manuel. But as many problems as they had on defense last season, they have gotten a lot stronger there as well.
Game Time: 8pm EST/ 5pm PST. This game will be televised on ABC.
Make the jump to take a peek at some of the key players that will be featured in the game.
Landry Jones vs. E.J. Manuel. This match up will be the closest watched through out the game. Jones is considered to be one of best quarterbacks in the nation while Manuel is still trying to earn his stripes. Even if Manuel winds up falling short, it most likely will be just short. I think the nation (and Florida State fans) will finally have a very talented pro-caliber quarterback playing behind center. By season end, I feel like Landry Jones could very well overtake the slot as the number one quarterback in the nation if he continues on the way he has. If Andrew Luck struggles at all, or appears to not be as dominate at his position (as he was in the San Jose State game) then he could fall victim to the influential pundits and slide down boards. If the national media starts pointing out flaws, the rest of the nations pro scouts will take note as well
Dominique Whaley was a menace in the last game. He has scored 4 touchdowns already this year and things should be no different for him this week. Roy Finch and Brennan Clay will contribute as well. Either can break out at any given moment was well.
So far, the Seminoles have not scored too many touchdowns running the ball. But this does not mean they can't. James Wilder has really done the best thus far for the 'Noles averaging 7.6 yards a carry. Chris Thompson is no slouch as well as he has averaged 5.4 yards a carry. Both these running backs have big play ability. Any time they get the ball, it's a threat to opposing defenses.
Ryan Broyles, Kenny Stills, and Trey Franks vs. Rodney Smith, Rashad Greene, and Bert Reed. I think the clear advantage here would have gone to the Sooners had Stills been in this one. However, Franks can hit the defense when they least expect it. Ryan Broyles, is well Ryan Broyles... he's gonna get the ball. This year, and in just one game so far, Broyles has caught the ball 14 times for 158 yards with a touchdown.
Bert Reed and Rodney Smith both do things differently but both are effective in their own ways. Reed strikes me as more of the possession type receiver and already has three scores while Smith seems to be more of a deep threat guy but their biggest deep threat guy that the Sooners will have to account for is the freshman Rashad Greene. Combined, those three already have 7 touchdowns on the year.
Both the Sooners and Seminoles have had great offensive lines in recent years; as evidence of both their explosive offenses on the ground and the air. Whoever can hold their blocks longer against the opposing defensive pass rushes (that will be brought hard from both teams) will most likely prevail. I would have to call it a draw in this area. Whoever wants it more is going to put their team in the best place to get the 'W'.
James Hannah vs. Beau Reliford. Hannah takes the cake in a land slide. He will be one of the top tight ends drafted in the upcoming draft should he stay healthy and continue on like he has. Not to take away anything from Reliford because he has held his own as a good blocking tight end. He catches the ball well too but unfortunately, the Seminoles don't use their tight end the same as the Sooners do. Hannah will be all over the field. He's gonna block and he will absolutely do what he does best in catching passes.
DEFENSIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Travis Lewis ruled himself out against the Seminoles as expected. But they still have some guys that can play and get after it that could make up for Lewis' absence. The front four for the Sooners are stout and very aggressive. A pass rush by these four will allow more Sooners to drop back in coverage. So it is important that Alexander, Lewis, McFarland, and Walker get some push. Stoops runs a very high risk, high reward defense and typically it pays off. But Florida State is the type of team that will burn you if you gamble too much. There has to be balance in order for the Sooners to keep that No. 1 ranking. Jamell Fleming, the Sooners main guy at cornerback, will have to stay tight with Smith and Reed, or whoever else he happens to be covering. On the other side, Hurst will have to keep up. If he is able to, this could spell trouble for E.J. Manuel and it could force him in to more risky scrambles.
There may not be a better defensive end in the country over Brandon Jenkins. The Seminoles really lucked out when Jenkins, who was under rated with a four-star rating out of high school elected to attend Florida State University. When the season is over, Jenkins may be the number one rated defensive linemen coming out. But the talent up front doesn't stop with Jenkins. Big boy Anthony McFarland, listed at 6'2", 302 LBS, will be a wall if the Sooners try any business up the gut. If they do, chances are they will run in to his gut. Perhaps one of the most underrated elements to the Seminoles defense would be the secondary. Not many big-named guys back there outside of sophomore safety Lamarcus Joyner and cornerback Mike Harris but they have been getting the job done. The Sooners will be the biggest measuring stick for just how good they are though as they will be facing quite possibly the best offense in the nation.
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