At the 2001 Orange Bowl, Oklahoma ended one of the greatest runs in college football history when the Sooners beat Florida State to win the national championship.
The Seminoles haven’t been serious title contenders since that 13-2 loss in Miami.
On Saturday night at Doak Campbell Stadium, No. 5 Florida State can change that against the latest top-ranked Sooners team.
Beat OU, and it’ll feel just like the not-so-old days at Florida State, when the road to the national title always seemed to run through Tallahassee.
“It’ll be a measuring stick,” second-year Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said. “It’s not the season, but it can be a great building block.”
Over the last 10 years, the Seminoles have played in two Atlantic Coast Conference title games and a couple BCS bowls. But during the final decade of the Bobby Bowden era, Florida State never could recapture the success of the 1980s and ‘90s.
From 1987-2000, Florida State won at least 10 games every season and never lost more than two. The ‘Noles finished ranked no worse than fifth in the AP poll for 14 straight seasons, won two national championships and two other times played in a bowl with a chance to finish No. 1.
Their regular-season games with rivals Miami and Florida were often national championship elimination matches.
Florida State-Oklahoma has potential to be one of those games.
Both teams are talented, but the Sooners are the nationally known quantity. Much of this team, including quarterback Landry Jones and All-America receiver Ryan Broyles, returned from last season’s squad that won the Big 12 and finished No. 6 in the country.
While coach Bob Stoops’ Sooners came into this season with a strong case to back up their No. 1 ranking, Florida State’s No. 6 ranking to start the season was more of a leap of faith.
Florida State won 10 games last season for the first time since 2003. But the Seminoles didn’t even win the Atlantic Coast Conference and came into this season with a new full-time starting quarterback in EJ Manuel.
The Seminoles are good, but after beating Louisiana-Monroe and Charleston Southern the first two weeks of the season, no one yet knows how good.
Last season, Florida State clearly wasn’t ready to step up in class when it went to Norman, Okla. The Sooners pounded the Seminoles 47-17.
Oklahoma can put that Florida State return to glory on hold again Saturday night.