- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 14, 2011

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.

The picks:


No. 3 LSU (minus 3 1/2) at No. 25 Mississippi State

The Tigers have won 11 straight against Bulldogs … LSU 28-23.


No. 4 Boise State (minus 17 1/2) at Toledo

After narrow miss at Ohio State, Rockets step up competition … BOISE STATE 41-21.


No. 1 Oklahoma (minus 3 1/2) at No. 5 Florida State

Not quite, ‘Noles … OKLAHOMA 31-23.

North Texas (minus 46) at No. 2 Alabama

Looks like QB A.J. McCarron’s job to lose for Tide … ALABAMA 55-7

No. 6 Stanford (minus 10) at Arizona

Win this one and Cardinal’s schedule sets up nicely for 7-0 start … STANFORD 35-21.


No. 7 Wisconsin (minus 16 1/2) vs. Northern Illinois at Chicago

New UNI coach Dave Doeren was Badgers D-coordinator … WISCONSIN 38-17.

No. 8 Oklahoma State (minus 14) at Tulsa

Can anyone slow down Cowboys WR Justin Blackmon? … OKLAHOMA STATE 45-28.

Idaho (plus 36 1/2) at No. 9 Texas A&M

Aggies getting ready for home game against Oklahoma State … TEXAS A&M 58-17.

Navy (plus 18 1/2) at No. 10 South Carolina

Middies can be pesky … SOUTH CAROLINA 35-20.

Washington (plus 16 1/2) at No. 11 Nebraska

Again! … NEBRASKA 34-21

Missouri State (no line) at No. 12 Oregon

Ducks QB Darron Thomas threw six TD passes last week … OREGON 58-3.

Arkansas State (plus 24) at No. 13 Virginia Tech

Red Wolves coming off 47-3 win vs. Memphis … VIRGINIA TECH 35-17.

Troy (plus 23 1/2) at No. 14 Arkansas

Hogs might give QB Tyler Wilson (concussion symptoms) some rest … ARKANSAS 48-20.

No. 15 Michigan State (minus 5) at Notre Dame

Spartans 2-0; Irish 0-2. Irish favored? … NOTRE DAME 31-24.

Tennessee (plus 9 1/2) at No. 16 Florida

Urban Meyer owned Vols. What about Will Muschamp? … FLORIDA 28-21.

No. 17 Ohio State (plus 2) at Miami

Instead of marching bands, halftime show will be reading of NCAA rule book … MIAMI 23-17.

No. 18 West Virginia (plus 1) at Maryland

Those Terps’ uniforms look much better when they win … WEST VIRGINIA 28-24.

Stephen F. Austin (no line) at No. 19 Baylor

Could end up as conference rivals the way things are going … BAYLOR 55-14.

Florida A&M (no line) at No. 20 South Florida

Could end up as conference rivals the way things are going … USF 38-7.


No. 21 Auburn (plus 3 1/2) at Clemson

One team finds ways to win; the other, ways to lose … AUBURN 27-24.

No. 22 Arizona State (plus 1) at Illinois

If Sun Devils want to be taken seriously, win this one … ARIZONA STATE 28-24.

Louisiana-Monroe (plus 28 1/2) at No. 23 TCU

Horned Frogs have won nine straight home openers … TCU 45-14.

No. 23 Texas (minus 3 1/2) at UCLA

Longhorns visit Pac-12. Will they come back? … TEXAS 31-21.


Last week’s record: 18-2 (straight); 11-5-1 (vs. spread).

Last week’s record: 39-4 (straight); 21-13-1 (vs. spread).

Best bets: 0-1.

Upset specials: 1-0.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

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