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Oklahoma keys to victory


© St. Petersburg Times, published January 3, 2001

1. No Interceptions. For all his success in the past two seasons, quarterback Josh Heupel was ordinary in the past three games, plagued by a sore elbow and interceptions. He overcame those woes against Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Kansas State, but could be in for a long night if he makes such miscues against FSU.

2. Stay Balanced. Heupel gets the hype, but the Sooners are balanced. The receivers have excellent timing with Heupel, and running back Quentin Griffin became a complement to the passing game this season. Keeping the Seminoles guessing will make it more difficult for FSU defenders to tee off on Heupel.

3. Create Turnovers. No team was hotter at the end of the regular season than FSU. Who knows if the Seminoles can regain that timing. So the Sooners need to be opportunistic on defense. They finished first in the Big 12 and seventh in the nation in scoring defense. And they bailed out a sputtering offense at the end of the season. Forcing FSU into mistakes to gain field-position battles will be crucial.

4. Force Weinke out of the pocket. If FSU's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback has time to find receivers, the Sooners will be in trouble. Chris Weinke rarely makes mistakes unless he is forced out of the pocket, where he is not as mobile and would be more likely to find trouble.

5. Don't Be Predictable. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops had success against Florida State once before with so much time to prepare -- as defensive coordinator at Florida. He helped the Gators win a national championship by changing things up in the Sugar Bowl. It wouldn't hurt to have new wrinkles on both sides of the ball to keep the Seminoles guessing.

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