Prior to the 1979 season Oklahoma and Florida State had played each other in football twice. In 1965 the Seminoles had their way with the Sooners in the Gator Bowl by a final score of 36-19. Twelve years later Florida State would travel to Norman and succumb to the Oklahoma defense in route to a 24-9 loss to Barry Switzer's 4th ranked Sooners on September 25th, 1976.
The next time the two schools would meet would be on January 1st 1980 at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida. It was the first time the two schools would meet with each of them carrying a national ranking. The Sooners were #5 and the Seminoles were #4.
It was the first New Year's Day bowl appearance for Florida State since they had whipped OU in the Gator Bowl in `65. They came into the Orange Bowl with an undefeated record and an offense that had averaged scoring 39 points per game while only allowing opponents to score an average of 12.4 points per game.
The Sooners were riding a 6 game winning streak coming into the Orange Bowl and had suffered their only loss that season in the annual match-up with the Texas Longhorns. With J.C. Watts under center and Billy Sims in the backfield, Switzer's Sooners were scoring at a clip of 34.7 points per game with a defense that only allowed 12.4 points per game. On paper the two teams looked even but on the field it wouldn't be close.
Late in the first quarter running back Michael Michael Whiting capped a 74-yard scoring drive with a one-yard plunge to give the Seminoles a 7-0 lead. The quarter would end with that same score but after a sluggish start the Sooners were just about to get started.
Early in the second quarter Watts went 69-yards for Oklahoma's first score of the game to tie the game up at 7-7. The Sooner defense took over from there and would only allow FSU to complete just two more passes the rest of the game. On the ensuing possession Oklahoma free safety Bud Hebert intercepted FSU's Jimmy Jordan and returned the ball to the Florida State ten. From there Stanley Wilson would score on a diving touchdown run to put Oklahoma up 14-7. The Sooners would cap off a 17 point second quarter with a 24-yard field goal around the three minute mark to go into the locker room up 17-7.
Late in the fourth quarter Billy Sims would take a pitch from Watts to score the final touchdown of his Sooner career and give the game a final score of 24-7. Watts would end up the offensive MVP with 127 rushing yards on 15 carries. Hebert would get the defensive honors after snagging three interceptions.
Oklahoma held the Seminoles to just 7 points and 182 yards while racking up a total of 447 offensive yards (411 on the ground) themselves. With the game itself not quite living up to the hype the two teams would have to wait another year to produce their first "classic."