- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 4, 2001


MIAMI The Sooner Schooner squashed the Seminoles.

No. 1 Oklahoma drowned any national title controversy last night in the Orange Bowl, shocking the college football world and earning its first national championship since 1985 by smothering heavily favored Florida State 13-2 in a steady drizzle at Pro Player Stadium.

The victory completed an perfect season (13-0) for the Sooners and capped an astounding return to national prominence for the once-proud program. In the five seasons before 40-year-old defensive mastermind Bob Stoops took the reins in Norman, Oklahoma had compiled a miserable 17-27-1 record. But in just two seasons, Stoops brought Sooner Magic back to the plains. And by the time Stoops and Co. finished manhandling the third-ranked Seminoles (11-2) last night, the memory of those lean years had been buried beneath the brilliance of a the program's seventh national title.

"That's Oklahoma football," said Stoops after his Sooners limited Florida State's high-octane offense to a paltry 301 yards and forced three turnovers. "To be honest with you, we fully expected to play that way. And to a man, we fully expected to win. It's easy to say that Oklahoma's back."

While the expected offensive quarterbacking fireworks from Florida State Heisman winner Chris Weinke and Oklahoma runner-up Josh Heupel never arrived, the Oklahoma defense certainly didn't disappoint. Led by Orange Bowl MVP Torrance Marshall and fellow All-American linebacker Rocky Calmus, the Sooners tortured Weinke and his mates all evening with a complex zone coverage package that denied Florida State its beloved deep ball.

The 28-year-old Weinke completed just 25 of his 51 passing attempts for 274 yards his lowest total since a 258-yard effort against Clemson last season.

"They did a great job of confusing us defensively," said Florida State coach Bobby Bowden after failing in his bid to earn back-to-back national championships. "We simply could not get anything going."

The game's key play came with 8:14 remaining in the fourth quarter and a frustrated Florida State squad trailing 6-0. In an effort to force a big play for his team, Weinke took a snap on third-and-six at his own 10-yard line and scrambled through the Oklahoma rush toward the first down marker. As he was falling forward for an apparent first down, Weinke was hit from behind by Calmus and fumbled. Oklahoma sophomore safety Roy Williams recovered the fumble at Florida State's 15, and two plays later senior tailback Quentin Griffin took an inside handoff and scooted into the end zone from 10 yards out to supply the Sooners with the game's decisive score.

The first half was almost as shocking as Tiger Woods' new bleach-blond hairdo, as neither of the two ballyhooed quarterbacks nor their offenses managed to muster the precise drives which were the hallmark of both teams during the regular season. The teams combined to total just 12 first downs and both quarterbacks were intercepted.

Oklahoma scratched out the only points of the half on a 27-yard field goal by Tim Duncan, taking a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter after a seven-play drive highlighted by a 36-yard completion from Heupel to junior wideout Josh Norman.

The Sooners then snuffed the Seminoles on the game's next series and mounted the most impressive drive of the half on their next possession. Just as he's done all season, Heupel dinked the Sooners down the field with a slew of quick passes designed to exploit the pockets in the FSU defense. But after driving the Sooners to the Florida State 15-yard line, Heupel made the first major mistake of the game, forcing a pass into triple coverage while sprinting away from a Florida State rusher. Florida State senior corner Tay Cody stepped in front of the desperate duck for a drive-killing interception.

But if Heupel made the half's most meaningful error, Weinke and Co. never even got into position to make such a miscue. The Seminoles, which led the nation in scoring this season (42 points per game), looked baffled by Oklahoma's 7-man zone defense. The Sooners dared the Seminoles to run, and on the few instances when Florida State tried such a tactic, they failed miserably tailback Travis Minor gaining just 23 yards on 10 carries.

Florida State's only scoring opportunity came midway through the second quarter, when erratic kicker Brett Cimorelli shanked a 31-yard field goal that would have tied the game. Only once in the last five seasons had FSU been held scoreless for a half. The other shutout half came two months ago, when Miami took a 17-0 lead over the Seminoles into the locker room en route to handing Florida State its only loss of the regular season.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide