Welcome to bowl season. Generally this time of year feels like a jumping off point or the fart in the cake you sat in all year. So the question is this, fart or trampoline?
It is a tough one to assume the best. Oklahoma riding high on a great signing day and solid attack of the transfer portal. Momentum with this team is going the right way and Brent Venables tries to rebulid. Florida State however has more talent. They have a stronger identity... and are just the better team. Florida State, minus TCU, is likely the best team OU has played this season. Brent said that the offense of the Seminoles is the best unit that Oklahoma has played against all year (shots fired at the toads).
OU’s hands are full. They would need to play nearly perfect. Tough for me to see. However, we all know none of that *gesturing upwards * is what this is about. Oklahoma got 15 extra practices and will likely allow themselves to get some game reps for younger players who could get thrown into the real snaps next season. That matters, or I have been told constantly that it matters. I have no reason to disagree. These few weeks have been about Kip Lewis, Jake Taylor, Kobie McKenzie, and Jayden Gibson.
Frankly, almost nothing to do with how to slow down Jordan Travis.
What to watch for?
- Oklahoma’s history against mobile QB’s is well documented. This year OU was no different than any other team in college football. They struggled. Adrian Martinez being one of the tougher ones to watch. Travis is better than all of them. Better than Martinez, or (injured) Sanders, or Duggan when it comes to using his legs. Sooner’s will really be forced to see if given a month to prepare if they can limit that big play ability. To be clear, they will not stop him ‘they can only hope to contain him’ as the age old saying goes.
- Oklahoma will have 2 tackles thrust into a situation of starring down a 1st round draft pick edge rusher (we will talk Jared Verse later). Tyler Guyton and (assumed) Jake Taylor creating your bookends isn’t ideal against a team that can rush the QB like Florida State can. Sooner’s will likely need to use TEs and RBs to chip in and help in pass protection. Gabriel running for his life or bailing out of pockets due to pressure though is someting that could just be a formality if the Seminoles have it their way. Gabriel will have to make plays off schedule and off script because it is frankly unfair to ask those two guys to top the pressure of Florida State.
- Dillon Gabriel with a shaky offensive line will have his full complemtary of wepons though on the outside. Eric Gray not being in the back field is hard, if not impossible, to replace for this team but using the big play ability of this wide reciever room might be the most natural way to keep your head above water. Marvin Mims and Jalil Farooq frankly need to play like straight up superstars for Oklahoma to rack up a big point total. Totally possible, but that will take the point above to be less of an issue than my guy says it will be.
- Freshman sneaking in is the the #1 thing you should be watching for. Gavin Sawchuk, Gentry Williams, Jake Taylor, Nic Anderson, R Mason Thomas, and others are all expected to see some time you assume. Well... show us what you got kid. That is the name of the game. Sooner’s will be looking to the future, you assume, in this bowl game. Frankly something that you just haven’t seem them do all year. Oklahoma has played the veterans even when that felt against their best intrest, that should change tonight.
Know your opponent: Florida State
- Jared Verse is a top 20 NFL draft pick. Feels like Florida State always has an edge rusher going in the first round and with 7.5 sacks on the season it is a little bit of a suprise that he is playing in this one. Verse will be tough to slow down for Guyton and Taylor. He wins early and with leverage. Guyton should stand the better chance but worries me that Verse could just bend the edge by maybe being a little quicker and little more nimble than Guyton can handle. Obvioulsy Oklahoma has faced some great edge rushers this season, Verse might be the best.
- Akeem Dent another NFL draft prospect who suprisingly didn’t opt out of the bowl game. Dent obviously is coming back to prove something and maybe make a few splash plays against Oklahoma. Dent a top 90 player this coming April is a rangey saftey who plays in the box. Palyign in all 12 games Dent racked up 29 solo tackles, most for any player who isn’t a lineman, for Florida State. Dent will be a factor in whatever version of Oklahoma’s running game we see.
- Jordan Travis is a blast. A straight up blast. I had obviously seen Travis play some of the bigger opponents on their schedule this year but going back and spending some time watching him its pretty clear that he is a different type of player that Oklahoma has seen this year. Florida State’s offense does a great job giving Travis wide passing lanes and leading to him being about the same as Dillon Gabriel throught the air. However, Travis will be a demon in the run game. The best QB runner they have seen this year. Travis is a great college QB and will test OU one last time in a major way before this season is over.
- Johnny Wilson is the leading pass catcher for the Seminoles averaging over 20 yards a catch. Only with 5 TDs on the year, it is clear that Wilson is the go to guy on obvious passing situations. Wilson isn’t as tough as a match up as some other players Oklahoma has seen this year but benifits from such a dynamic running game that allows him to play in space created from the fear of the Jordan Travis or Trey Benson run game.
Florida State is top 40 in the country in passing defense (just ahead of Oklahoma at 42) so allowing Marvin Mims and Jalil Farooq play their game will be availalble. My fear though of the offensive line from Oklahoma makes me think this team not only needs to lean into covering up their own weakness but also the weakness of this Florida State defense. However, Florida State’s high flying offense is likely going to send OU defenders into spin cycles. Jordan Travis is a monster with his arm, numbers very similar to Gabriel, but likely the most dangerous runner they have seen all year. OU is simply outclassed in talent in this one.
Sooners - 31
Florida State - 45
Talk to you later knuckleheads