Oklahoma vs. Florida State: 5 2nd-Half Adjustments the Seminoles Must Make
No. 5 Florida State has a shot to slay the beast that is No. 1 Oklahoma.
They've withstood the Sooners' early scoring drive and have shown they have the offensive weapons with EJ Manuel and company to move the ball on the Oklahoma defense. Is an upset in the making in what could be the biggest game of second-year coach Jimbo Fisher's career?
Here's what it will take for FSU to spring the major upset.
More Big Plays from EJ Manuel
For the Seminoles to pull off the massive upset, they need a superhuman effort from QB EJ Manuel. He electrified the crowd with a 28-yard run on the Noles' first drive of the game and had a 24-yard TD pass called back by a holding call.
Manuel needs to continue to slow down the Sooner pass rush with designed draws and hit on big-play opportunities off of play action. Manuel overthrew two different receivers in the first quarter with chances for 20+ yard plays in Oklahoma territory.
Keep the Crowd in the Game
The biggest advantage that FSU has over the Sooners is the decided home-field advantage. From the moment Chief Osceola came charging out onto the field on Renegade and spiked his spear at midfield, the Seminole crowd has been jacked.
Oklahoma's dominating first drive of the game, which chewed up a good chunk of the first quarter, silenced the crowd before Manuel responded with a drive that resulted in a field goal and a 7-3 Sooner lead.
Just staying within striking distance is keeping the crowd engaged, and the Noles are going to need that energy and noise in a tight fourth quarter to force the Sooners to have trouble running their offense and hearing audibles.
Figure out a Way to Pressure Oklahoma QB Landry Jones
Sooners QB Landry Jones completed 7 of his first 8 passes, standing in the pocket untouched and playing pitch and catch with his wide-open receivers.
FSU Defensive Coordinator Mark Stoops, younger brother of OU Coach Bob Stoops, finally brought pressure late in the first quarter and laid a hit on Jones as he was attempting a pass and it resulted in the game's first turnover, a FSU interception.
That play also stabilized the Seminole defense as they were able to slow down the Sooners offense, which looked ready to blow FSU out after the game's first drive.
Finish Their Scoring Drives
FSU marched into Sooners territory twice in their first three drives, only to have a TD pass erased by a penalty, which forced Florida State to settle for a field goal.
Later, riding momentum after an interception of Landry Jones, Florida State was poised to take the lead, only to have Manuel throw an ill-advised pass in the flat deep in OU territory.
The resulting interception totally swung the game and instead of FSU jumping ahead 10-7, the Sooners marched all the way back downfield for a field goal and a 10-3 lead.
Get the Defense off the Field
The Seminoles stiffened after Oklahoma's bruising first TD, a punishing drive where Oklahoma dominated the line of scrimmage and chewed up much of the first quarter.
The playing field has been leveled since then, but the Noles need to establish some type of running game to give the defense a rest, so they don't get worn down late in the game and succumb to OU's power running game.