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Seems like only yesterday that Sooner Nation was anguishing over the loss of an injured Sam Bradford, while loathing the decision-making of his replacement—one Landry Jones.
Those days are squarely positioned in the rearview mirror, as Jones has proven himself plenty capable; at times, he's flashed the type of Heisman-esque "it" factor that supporters of the Crimson and Creme have come to expect from their signal-callers.
What he has not yet done, however, is fully exorcise the remnants of his incessant road failures (see: '10 vs. Missouri, '09 vs. Miami and the infamous Nebraska meltdown from '09).
This is the most crucial game of Jones' career, not just for himself, but for his team. So much so, that it gives the Sooners a relatively clear distinction over Florida State in response to the question of "Who needs it more?"
Florida State isn't necessarily supposed to win this game, yet. They've been gone for a while. No one expects them to ascend to the pinnacle of college football with that sort of breakneck velocity—not until next year, anyway. For the 'Noles, 10 victories and an ACC Championship does the trick.
Ten wins and a conference title would be an abject failure in Norman, Oklahoma.
While one September loss would not necessarily derail Oklahoma's national championship aspirations in the literal sense, it would almost certainly strike a crippling blow.
The Sooners need their all-everything field general to be every bit as super in his white cape as he is in the red one. Dropping yet another big road contest would seem to definitively signal otherwise. More than anything, Jones needs to confirm the championship swagger that appears to be dripping off of this team, by affirming the notion that he is a bona fide Heisman contender capable of winning in a hostile environment.
Jones' counterpart bears a similar burden, if not the inherent pressure that comes with a nonexistent margin for error.
Christian Ponder kept EJ Manuel on the bench for the better portion of two seasons. But, Manuel's restricted access to the offense was a result of Ponder's pedigree—not an indictment of his own.
Seminole fans have been eagerly awaiting Manuel's turn at the helm for some time.
Ponder has made life easier on him, too.
Despite holding the designation of "first-round draft choice," he never won big at FSU. The Seminoles reached the 10-win plateau only once during his tenure, and Manuel played a big role in numerous victories in relief of an injured Ponder.
As a result, the heat won't be turned up to maximum until next season for Manuel. Losing to the Sooners on this September night will not trigger the apocalypse in Tallahassee.
The inherent question, then, becomes: Is Jones' urgent requisite to win an advantage, or a disadvantage?