9/11 Showdown FSU vs. Oklahoma

I know I’m a week early, but FSU plays lowly Samford tomorrow, so not really much analysis needed for that game.  As you might’ve noticed, I’m an FSU homer.  I grew up in Tallahassee, I graduated from FSU twice, they have more money of mine than any other single source I’m not related to and I’m a lifelong fan.

So I want to examine the chances of FSU upsetting Oklahoma in Norman on September 11.  Now I’ll say right up front, I don’t think it’ll happen.  FSU is on the right track finally, I think, but they aren’t quite there yet, and they probably aren’t ready for No. 7 on the road, particularly defensively.

That being said, I want to talk about how FSU might win.  Again, not likely, but still probably more possible than most people think. Here are the reasons they might win:

1. FSU dominated BYU last year on the road and BYU managed to beat Oklahoma.  FSU should be a significantly better team this year (although Oklahoma should be better, too).  This one is a stretch, logically speaking, but it means that an upset should at least be thought about.

2. FSU’s offense has the possibility of being one of the best, if not the best, in the nation.  Christian Ponder is the best quarterback FSU has had in a decade and one of the best in the nation.  He should have little problem picking apart Oklahoma’s zone, particularly when their CBs are their weakest link defensively. Ponder’s back to full health and he has a strong returning cast around him — 19 of 22 of the two-deep chart are back — that performed very well last season.  There is experience and depth everywhere except receiver and if the talented, but inexperienced, receivers develop quickly, then this team will average over 40 points per game easily.

3. FSU’s defense will be much improved.  The uncertainty of who was in charge is gone.  The lack of discipline is gone.  The injuries are, for the most part, over.  The scheme is improved and the talent was always there. Performance in practice has been superb, which means something since they are lining up against a top-tier offense.  The D won’t stop the Sooners, but it could slow them down enough to allow Ponder to do his thing.

4. New defensive coordinator Mark Stoops brings insider knowledge of his brother Bob’s game plans.  FSU should know more about what Oklahoma’s going to do than any other team they play because of this connection, which could help FSU overcome some talent mismatches by being able to counter the Oklahoma schemes.

5. The element of surprise is with FSU.  No one is expecting too much from FSU and Oklahoma might overlook FSU looking down the road towards bigger things.  Add to that the fact that there isn’t really any existing footage of FSU’s new schemes for Oklahoma to learn from and they really won’t have a great idea of what FSU is going to do.

That being said, here’s why FSU probably won’t win.

1. New head coach, new coordinators, new schemes on both sides of the ball.  Very difficult to execute all of this well in such a short period of time.

2. The defense has a LOT of improvement to do.  They will improve a lot this year, but will it be enough and quickly enough.  Probably not this early.

3. Oklahoma’s Stoops is also familiar with FSU’s Stoops.  Which brother can best figure out what the other will do is a key, Oklahoma’s Stoops has been doing it longer and better.

4. Oklahoma just has more talent, experience and depth across the board.

5. The game is in Norman.

I never pick against my home team, though, so I’ll predict a slight victory for FSU, 35-31, knowing that it’s an unrealistic prediction.  As for tomorrow against Samford, I’m predicting a 52-17 blowout for FSU.

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