Oklahoma running back Dominique Whaley (8) is upended by Florida State safety Lamarcus Joyner (20) at the goal line during the first quarter Saturday night in Tallahassee, Fla. No. 1 Oklahoma won, 23-13.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State was 20 points better than last year against Oklahoma and it still wasn't good enough.
The top-ranked Sooners (2-0) scored 10 points in the final seven minutes Saturday night for a 23-13 victory that put the fifth-ranked Seminoles' bid to show they're back among the elite on hold.
"All great games come down to two or three little plays here and there," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "They made plays, we didn't."
Fisher's club managed to hang around despite having three of its top receivers and starting quarterback EJ Manuel out of the game. They also had one touchdown called back and Kenny Shaw dropped the ball in the Oklahoma end zone after a big hit by two Oklahoma defenders. Shaw, who was taken off the field on a cart and transported to the hospital, appeared to either have scored or fall down at the one-yard-line before losing the ball, but the play was not reviewed, despite a personal called on the OU defense.
It was a turning point in the game.
"Our kids can compete at the highest level," Fisher said. "We played with tremendous toughness."
A year ago there was no question who was better after Oklahoma's 47-17 runaway victory.
This time, the outcome was up for grabs after freshman sensation Rashad Greene's catch and run on a 56-yard scoring play tied the game at 13 with 9:32 left. The former Westover star and Albany native, who already has four touchdown catches this season, leaped high to catch the pass from redshirt freshman Clint Trickett, who came on for the injured Manuel late in the game, and then outran the defenders.
But the Sooners answered almost immediately when Kenny Stills caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Landry Jones to snap the tie and Oklahoma's defense did the rest.
"A huge catch," sighed Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops afterward.
The Seminoles (2-1) played the final 20 minutes without Manuel, who left in the third with a left shoulder injury.
Trickett kept the Seminoles in it.
"I dreamed about this all summer, getting in there," said Trickett, who completed 7 of 15 passes for 134 yards. "I didn't take full advantage of it, so I'm kind of upset about it."
Javon Harris picked off two passes for the Sooners, who forced three turnovers and harassed both Florida State quarterbacks all night.
After Oklahoma took the lead, Trickett couldn't respond while trying to avoid a ferocious Oklahoma pass rush. He had a pass tipped by Ronnell Lewis, and Harris came up with his second interception near midfield. Just like the first pick, Oklahoma turned it into a field goal.
Florida State's best shot to get in the end zone in the first half came when Manuel hit Shaw inside the 5, but the receiver was sandwiched by Tom Wort and Harris, taking a double-helmet shot, and the ball came out. Oklahoma was penalized and Shaw lay motionless on the turf for several minutes. He was taken to a local hospital to be examined and returned to the sideline in the fourth quarter.
With 5:42 left in the third quarter, Manuel was swarmed under by Oklahoma on a third-and-2 play that never had a chance and the quarterback came off the field in obvious pain, clutching his left arm tightly. He went to the locker room to have his shoulder examined, and Trickett took over.
Manuel's status for next weekend's game at Clemson is uncertain.
"He could be fine," Fisher said. "It could be a week or two."