📅 Date: Thursday, December, 29
🕚 Game Time: 5:30 ET
📺 How To Watch: ESPN
The Cheez-It Bowl will see two classic college football programs face off as the Oklahoma Sooners take on the Florida State Seminoles in the Cheez-It Bowl. Brent Venables, the first-year coach of the Sooners, finished the season with just a 6-6 record. The Seminoles from the ACC finished 9-3, which likely provided some much-needed job security for Mike Norvell. This is Norvell’s first winning season. Orlando’s opening kick will be at 5:30pm.
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The Oklahoma Sooners’ first-year head coach Max Venables has had a difficult season. After the Sooners lost their head coach, and then their star quarterback, to USC this offseason, the former defensive coordinator at multi-time National Champion Clemson was hired to provide stability for the team. Venables’ team began strong, but suffered three losses in the last four games. They are now 6-6 going into the bowl game. Venables will attempt to avoid Oklahoma’s first losing season since 1998.
This game could be more about Oklahoma’s players than it is about Oklahoma. Both offensive and defensive tackles will miss the team, as well as running back Eric Gray, and defensive tackle Jalen Remond. All of them opted out in preparation for the NFL draft. The Sooners will rely on quarterback Dillon Gabriel. Gabriel spent three seasons at UCF before moving to Oklahoma. Gabriel may have trouble on obvious passing downs with two new tackles. Jovantae Barnes was Gray’s backup and had 411 yards with four touchdowns. This will make it difficult for Gabriel to handle a heavy workload.
The Sooners’ defensive line is led by Danny Strutsman, who leads the team with tackles. Redmond’s play at the middle of their defensive line will be missed by the Sooners, but defensive-minded Venables has had many weeks to prepare for the game without the lineman. CJ Colden is the Sooners’ secondary leader with four interceptions.
Oklahoma was the 11th-ranked ground attack in this season’s rankings. This will be a problem in this matchup without Gray and their two starter tackles. The 43rd-ranked team is passing the ball, but they may have to play a shorter passing game due to the new offensive line. As the team continues to refine their defensive strategy, Oklahoma ranks 104th against the run and 103rd for the pass. They are the 25th-scoring offense in the country and have only the 87th-ranked defense.
After winning their first four games, the Florida State Seminoles lost three consecutively. There were rumors about Mike Norvell’s future as head coach. It looked as though this wasn’t the right fit after he had only eight wins in his two previous years since moving from Memphis. The Seminoles now have a record of 9-3, and are looking for their first 10 win season since 2016. This is also the Seminoles’ first appearance in a bowl game in two seasons.
Norvell stated, “I am so excited that our team will be selected to play in Cheez-It bowl.” They have worked hard, persevered through tough times and shown resilience throughout the year. I am incredibly grateful for another chance to coach this year’s team. It will be a great experience for our fans to play in Florida, creating an amazing environment at Camping World Stadium. We look forward to this matchup, and to continuing on CLIMB as an organization.
The Seminoles are, unlike the Sooners’, relatively healthy and playing their best football this season. The quarterback of Florida State is Jordan Travis. Travis finished the season with 2,796 air yards and 22 touchdowns. He also had four interceptions. He ran for 367 yards, seven touchdowns. Trey Benson, running back, should surpass the 1000-yard mark on the ground in this one. He only needs 35 more yards to exceed the century mark. On the ground, he averages 6.8 yards per run.
Florida State’s defense has so far recorded 35 sacks, with Jared Verse leading the way with 7.5 sacks. Verse is also the leader in tackles for loss with 14.5 overall. Greedy Vance is the leader of the Seminoles with three of their eight interceptions. Jammie Robinson is the leader in tackles, and is tied for the lead in quarterback hits.
Florida State enters this matchup as the country’s 20th-ranked ground game and 37th-ranked pass attack. The Seminoles rank 19th nationally in scoring offense. FSU is 4th against pass and 64th against run. As they prepare to face a reduced Oklahoma offense, FSU has the 17th-ranked scoring defense.
Key Injuries. Florida State could be able to welcome back Winston Wright Jr. last year, its leading receiver. He is currently listed as questionable for the game.
Since opening at -8, this line has moved a point and a half in favor of the Seminoles. Oklahoma will be without its two starting tackles, which is against one of the best pass rushes in the country and the 4th-ranked pass defense. Florida State will have their full complement of offensive weapons against a subpar Sooners defense. Redmond, the Sooners’ biggest defensive disruptor, was a huge blow to their defense. With his ability to both throw and run the ball, Jordan Travis is a strong contender for Most Outstanding Player in this bowl game.
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