ORLANDO − Florida State football will have a chance at a unique goal Thursday.
The No. 13 Seminoles (9-3) spanre scheduled to plspany Oklspanhomspan (6-6) in the Cheez-It Bowl at 5:30 p.m. at Cspanmping World Stspandium in Orlspanndo with a chance for its first 10-win season since 2016.
That season FSU won the Orange Bowl and also won the state title, defeating Miami and Florida in the same season.
This group will have a chance to make a remarkable turnaround from 3-6 in 2020 and 5-7 in 2021 in the first two seasons under head coach Mike Norvell.
For Norvell, he will be seeking his first career bowl victory. With Memphis, while he posted a 38-16 record in his four seasons, he lost all four bowl games, including a 53-39 loss to Penn State in the Cotton Bowl in 2019.
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Oklahoma is seeking to avoid its first losing season since 1998, the year before Bob Stoops took over as head coach in Norman, Okla.
Per Bet Online on Wednesday morning, the Sooners come in as a 9.5-point betting underdog. They have experienced an up-and-down season under first-year coach Brett Venables. Oklahoma began the season 3-0, lost three in a row, improved to 5-3 and closed the season with three losses in its final four games.
The Sooners lost 51-48 to Texas Tech last time out on Nov. 26.
So, how will this game likely unfold? Why would FSU win, and why would Oklahoma come out with the victory? Below is a breakdown of those scenarios, along with a score prediction.
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Why FSU will win
The Seminoles should be able to move the ball and put up points at will against Oklahoma.
The Sooners are allowing 189 rushing yards per game, which ranks 109th nationally. They are also allowing 450.5 yards per game (120th). They have allowed at least 40 points to opponents five times this season.
Florida State’s offense is 12th in the nation with 475.7 yards per game and 16th with 36.2 points per game.
FSU QB Jordan Travis has thrown for 2,796 yards, 22 touchdowns and four interceptions for FSU this season and running back Trey Benson is 35 yards from being the first player since Cam Akers (2019).
Oklahoma will be without star running back Eric Gray and both starting offensive tackles, Wanya Morris and Anton Harrison, which could also hurt the offensive firepower.
Gray ran the ball 213 times for 1,366 yards and 11 touchdowns, while also adding 33 catches for 229 yards.
Without those players, the Seminoles are poised to have a chance to shut down Oklahoma if they can control receiver Marvin Mims and take him out of the game.
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Why Oklahoma will win
The Sooners’ offense has been led by quarterback Dillon Gabriel. Gabriel, a UCF transfer, garnered Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year honors after completing 215 of 342 passes (62.9%) for 2,920 yards and 24 touchdowns with six interceptions.
Oklahoma ranks 18th in the nation with 472.2 yards per game and 35th with 32.9 points per game.
No offense the Seminoles faced this season ranked ahead of the Sooners in yards per game and only Wake Forest averaged more points per game.
Florida (31.8 PPG, 38th) exposed some weaknesses in the FSU defense, as the Seminoles allowed a season-high of 35 points against, 460 total yards and 262 rushing yards.
While the Sooners have struggled defensively at times, they have held four opponents to 14 points or less on the schedule, including then No. 22 Oklahoma State on Nov. 19.
Sophomore defensive end Ethan Downs led the team and was ranked second in Big 12 in tackles for loss with 13.5 and tied junior defensive end, Reggie Grimes, with 4.5 sacks for the OU-team lead.
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There should be a lot of offensive fireworks in this one.
The over/under for the game comes in at 66 points. While the Seminoles have shown improvement on the defensive side of the ball throughout the second half of the season, rival Florida showed some holes in the defense, particularly in the run defense in the Black Friday matchup.
With opt-outs for several Sooners from the game, including the two top offensive linemen and running back, it is hard to see Gabriel and Oklahoma keeping pace with the potent FSU offense as this one heads into the fourth quarter.
Expect FSU to win by a double-digit margin.
Score prediction: Florida State 38, Oklahoma 24.
Who: No. 13 Florida State vs. Oklahoma
When/Where: Thursday 5:30 p.m.; Camping World Stadium in Orlando
Live game updates: www.Tallahassee.com; @CarterKarels on Twitter; @Ehsan_Kassim on Twitter
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