Doak Campbell Stadium brings an intimidating vision for the Sooners, and it's not because of the clown on horseback that they'll see at midfield.
The Florida State fan base is rabid for a return to the domination enjoyed in the 1990s. Week Three of the 2011 season marks the true barometer of not only this year, but the maturation process of quarterback Landry Jones. On Sunday, we will know if Oklahoma has another elite quarterback or just a really good quarterback that puts up big numbers in comfortable situations. The first season and a half of Jones gave us the latter of the two. Last season's finish gave fans a realistic hope that Landry could take that next special step. Now, the learning process is over. The apprenticeship has concluded.
There is simply no other way to put it: Saturday is Judgment Day.
The Sooners have handled the pre-game period as well as any time in their recent history. They have said the right things, given all the signs of measured confidence, and they showed extra poise in response to the Twitter trash emanating from society's future leaders from Tallahassee. The Sooners have given the psychological signs so far of being a championship team. This is the requisite step to giving a championship performance on a national stage in front of a hostile crowd.
In order to complete the deal, Landry Jones must show the poise he discovered last season. This can only happen if his running game allows him to not get into that desperate zone where he forces interceptions at inopportune times. The key to fighting a loud crowd is clean, quick handoffs to bruising running backs eating up chunks of yardage.
The defense will have to pick up any slack the Sooner offense creates. Leadership is key here. Without linebacker Travis Lewis, another leader will have to keep the continuity of the defense in place, especially if FSU gets some quick scores.
Outcome: Before the game, the guy from the 1950's spaghetti westerns with the clown makeup and the authentic spear from Home Depot loses balance and impales his own foot. After the theatrics, OU plays solidly on offense giving up only one interception on a tipped pass. The running back trio of Dominique Whaley, Brennan Clay and Roy Finch combine to rush for 160 yards. FSU defensive back defensive back Greg Reid has a better showing than last year, but OU has too many weapons for his secondary.
Consequently, Florida St., with their most productive receivers last year, Bert Reed and Willie Haulstead, hampered by injuries, can't come through with the enough points to deliver a return to glory. OU never loses control of the game and wins 37-24.
After the game, the Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma convinces the Seminole Tribe of Florida that their mascot tradition is the most idiotic this side of Champaign, Ill. The Florida St. regents enter the 21st century and ban clown mascots on horseback.
If Florida St. is to have a chance, the defense must play superbly. The linebacker corp is inexperienced, but all starters return in the secondary and the defensive line is solid with a better than good pass rush. The special teams could push FSU over the top. Greg Reid could break off enough plays to give FSU some easy points, and the kicking game should easily be in the top 10 in the nation by the end of the year.
Outcome: OU right tackle Lane Johnson get his first start, and he has a tough time getting in the groove. Added to that, Florida St. defensive end Brandon Jenkins is relentless and disrupts Landry Jones all night. OU running back Dominique Whaley is a one-hit wonder, and the running game produces just shy of 100 yards. Kicker Jimmy Stevens misses two pivotal field goals, and the Sooners inexplicably give Greg Reid chances to go off with returns that give Florida St. the field position advantage all night.
Quarterback E.J. Manuel is not a world-beater, but he does take his team on a game-winning drive and gives FSU a thrilling 32-28 victory.
The crowd goes into a frenzy. Everyone dons authentic clown warpaint and proceeds to dance around a burning car on campus.