OU football 2011 opponent breakdown: Florida State Seminoles
The 2011 college football season is still weeks away, but excitement surrounding Norman is nearly overflowing.
And while the Sooners have their eyes on winning the university's eighth national title, there are 12 games that must be played before the preseason No. 1 team can earn its place in the BCS national championship game in New Orleans.
Leading up to the first day of classes, The Daily will publish a breakdown of each opponent OU will face this year.
Up next: Florida State
SEPT. 17 IN TALLAHASSEE, FLA.
(Previous meeting: W, 47-17, in 2010)
After an early bye week, the Sooners travel to Florida for an early season matchup of top-5 teams.
Under first-year coach Jimbo Fisher, the Seminoles had a successful season in 2010 and now look poised to breakout.
Gone is star quarterback Christian Ponder, but junior E.J. Manuel proved his ability while filing in for an injured Ponder last year. Manuel has started big games in his time as a backup, including the 2009 Gator Bowl and last year's ACC Championship game.
The dual-threat quarterback passes the eye test (6-foot-5, 234 pounds), but he has thrown 10 interceptions to only six touchdown passes — showing some improvement is needed with his decision-making process.
Manuel will benefit from having most of the team's top receivers and running backs return.
On defense, coordinator Mark Stoops has all four starters returning in a secondary that, other than against Oklahoma, was solid last season. The problem will be getting everyone healthy and ready to play after three players have missed most or all of spring practice with injuries.
The strength of the Seminoles' defense will be in the front four, led by junior defensive end Brandon Jenkins, who is on the watch list for every defensive award this year.
Last season, Florida State was 29th in the country against the run, a jump from 118th nationally the year before. Both starters in the interior are back, so look for the Seminoles to continue their improvement toward the top of the national standings.
The 'Noles possess the talent and the experience to contend for a national title.
Although OU won a couple big games on the road at the end of last season, this will be the biggest road test the Sooners have ever had in the Bob Stoops era. On paper, Oklahoma appears to be the better team — by a thin margin.
Prediction: W, 30-27
Confidence: 45 percent
Returning starters: eight offense, eight defense
Seminoles to know: WR Bert Reed, QB E.J. Manuel, LB Nigel Bradham
Prediction, too: After being down at the half, OU rallies in the third and holds on for the win