Oklahoma vs. Florida State: Why Winner of Week 3 Matchup Is On Course for Nation

Justin SparksCorrespondent IIISeptember 16, 2011

Oklahoma vs. Florida State: Why Winner of Week 3 Matchup Is On Course for Nation

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     The No. 5 Florida State Seminoles host the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners in an early season test. The winner instantly becomes serious national championship contenders after what will surely be one of the best games of the season in college football.

    Tallahassee, Florida is the epicenter of the college football world this weekend and for a good reason.The Sooners come to town as the nation's unanimous top team, according to both the AP and USA Today polls.

    An early season clash between two powerhouse programs. Florida State has been on the rise since Jimbo Fisher took over a season ago and are ascending to the top of the polls quickly. Oklahoma travels to Tallahassee with one of the nation's most explosive offenses as they look to cement their standing as the best team in the country.

    Fasten your seat belts because Saturday night could be one memorable ride for college football fans.

1. Early Season Test

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    The Oklahoma Sooners roll into Tallahassee a year removed from handing the Florida State Seminoles and Jimbo Fisher a first-class beat down. Oklahoma beat Florida State in Norman last season 47-17 as they brushed off their visitors. Jimbo Fisher and his staff received a rude awakening to big time college football during his inaugural season as head coach.

    Now both teams come into this weekend wanting to prove to the nation they are national championship material. Both have different agendas to prove but they remain along the same lines.

    A "W" for Oklahoma shows that this team has what it takes to win a national championship and they have it all together early in the season, which is a scary thought for their Big 12 brethren. Winning a big game on the road in what will surely be a frenetic environment against a top five, out of conference opponent shows the pollsters they're the real deal.

    For Florida State, it's a little different. The Seminoles went into a decade long trudge through mediocrity. They now have the type of team in place that resembles the Florida State of old and a prime time game that they seemed to play in every other week.

    This game is it for the Seminoles. Put up or shut up. EJ Manuel and all of Tallahassee knows it.

    Manuel commented on the build up for this game earlier this week. "A lot of people have been waiting for a game where they can finally say FSU is back, and they keep pointing to this year's Oklahoma game."

    For either team, the victor passes an enormous early season test for the national championship proving they have what it takes to run the table and be in New Orleans in January. 

2. Conference Schedule

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    Both teams enter their respective conference schedules next week after Saturday night's big game. Both will play Tigers from inside their conference.

    The Oklahoma Sooners face the Missouri Tigers in Norman to open up their Big 12 schedule. The Florida State Seminoles travel up to South Carolina to face the Clemson Tigers to open up ACC play.

    One thing that both teams will enjoy compared to the LSU Tigers or Alabama Crimson Tide—who are both top five teams—is not playing in the SEC.

    Florida State and Oklahoma, on the other hand, get to play in a watered down Big 12 and ACC, compared to the SEC. The Big 12 may have two other teams in the top 10 at the moment, but do not expect that to last too long. With Nebraska out of the conference and Texas still trying to find it's way back to where they were two years ago, Oklahoma only has a couple games they need to seriously worry about.

    The Sooners host the Texas A&M Aggies in Norman and have to travel to Stillwater to close out the year. Facing their inner state rivals the Oklahoma State Cowboys at their place will more than likely be their toughest test. The Aggies won't be the team to end Oklahoma's current winning streaking at home.

    Florida State on the other hand opens ACC conference play with three consecutive road games at Clemson, at Wake Forest, and at Duke. Clemson will give the Seminoles fits on the road but they should be able to squeeze out a victory.

    The bigger conference tests come later in the season when they travel to play the Boston College Eagles for a Thursday night game and host the Miami Hurricanes the week after.

    Both teams face tough in-conference opponents but have a much more manageable task at hand not having to play in the SEC. The winner will be expected to run the table against their conference opposition.

3. Momentum

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    Saturday night's game between these two top five teams could provide one heck of a launching pad for the winner as they enter their conference schedule. The psyche and emotional aspect of college football cannot be overlooked.

    "Ole Mo"—as she's more commonly known—can either help or destroy a team's season. It's a two way street with "Mo." Things can get rolling and snowball in your favor or things could begin to pile up on the negative side.

    If Oklahoma wins—from their perspective—it will be something they expected and the momentum going forward will be sizable, but not enormous. The Sooners expect to be there at the end of the season. Coming out of a hostile environment that's unfamiliar for the Sooners will provide momentum as well as validation to their preseason credentials.

    However, beating Florida State would not provide as big of a push and confidence boosters as if the Seminoles won the game.

    If Florida State wins Saturday night, watch out America. This game is a defining moment in the history of Florida State football and Jimbo Fisher's career. I know that sounds like a bunch of hyperbole, but it's true. The outcome affects more than just their record.

    A win would shoot confidence straight into the blood stream of this once dominant program looking for vindication and a sign to whether they're truly "back" or not. If Florida State wins, the entire program will believe, a) Jimbo Fisher is their guy for the future, b) they're "back" and c) they can win a national championship now.

    The Seminoles have the talent to compete but lack the swag and confidence. The swagger that once surrounded the Florida State program will be sky high going forward if they can pull off the upset Saturday night.

    "Ole Mo" could be the force that drives the victor into New Orleans come next January.

4. Poll Position

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    The previous slides were fine and dandy, but what really matters when it comes to being on track for a national championship is where you sit in the polls. Poll position ultimately decides who plays for a national title and who doesn't.

    We are now three weeks into the season, and the polls are still taking shape. However, after a few weeks, the top-five usually settles into place and doesn't have too much shake up week in and week out.

    Saturday night's winner will cement their place in the top-five and have a nice win on their resume for the computers to calculate once the BCS polls roll on out in a few weeks time.

    Whether you agree or not—the BCS polls are the "end-all, be-all" of the college football world. The SEC has figured it out quite some time ago. Play an early season heavy weight match up and see what happens.

    Now, for the Oklahoma Sooners and Florida State Seminoles it doesn't exactly work out that way due to their strength of conference, but you get the point.

    Whomever wins tomorrow's prime time match up in Tallahassee reaps the rewards of playing a non-conference opponent ranked in the top-five. That's some serious points to tack on to the ole BCS resume before the conference schedule even begins.

    You also have the AP and USA Today polls. If Oklahoma wins, they will remain the No.1 team in both polls and won't have to worry about being supplanted by either of the SEC teams in the top-five.

    If Florida State wins, they could move up to anywhere between No.1 and No.4 in the polls. For the Seminoles to move up into the No.1 or No. 2 spot they would need to bend Oklahoma over the wagon and spank them with their spear.

    The more feasible landing for FSU if they won would be No. 3 or No. 4 in the polls, which would be a desirable place to be as they wait for the dominoes to fall.

    Poll position is the name of the game in college football. Grab a hold of that poll early and hold on tight. Saturday night's victor will tighten their grip at the top of the poll as they try and hold on until January.