Cheez-It Bowl Recap: Seminoles Win 35-32

The 2022 Cheez-It Bowl was an instant classic between the Florida State Seminoles and the Oklahoma Sooners. This game had solid offense and even better defense. Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell faced off once again against Brent Venables. With Venables’ defensive background, the Sooners entered the game with the perfect game plan to contain the Noles offense. In the end, Florida State survived in a wild 35-32 offensive showcase.

Cheez-It Bowl Recap: Seminoles Win 35-32

Florida State got off to an early 3-0 lead on a 22-yard field goal by Ryan Fitzgerald. But Oklahoma responded as Dillon Gabriel found wide receiver Jalil Farooq for a 22-yard touchdown. The Sooners scored again to open the second quarter on an eight-yard touchdown run by Gabriel. Halfway through the first half, Seminoles quarterback Jordan Travis tossed a touchdown pass to Ontaria Wilson to make it a 14-10 game.

Oklahoma would add three more points on a 41-yard field goal to take a 17-11 lead into the locker room. The difference in the first half was the Sooners’ ability to pressure the Noles offense and earn stops. Entering the second half, Norvell had to draw up a different game plan to avoid his team being down by more than one score. That is exactly what prevailed for FSU.

The Seminoles Offense Carries Florida State

Travis and the FSU offense came alive in the second half. Treshaun Ward scored the only touchdown in the third quarter on a one-yard run. On that scoring drive, Travis had just two incompletions. He went 7-of-9 for 75 yards. The tailback tandem of Ward and Trey Benson didn’t have the best of games. However, the inability to run the ball well was replaced by the Noles’ passing attack.

After throwing for 170 yards in the first half, FSU’s signal-caller passed for over 250 yards in the second half. With over 400 passing yards, half of those went to Johnny Wilson. Undeniably, Travis had one of the best games of his college career on Thursday night in Orlando.

Travis did throw an interception in the third quarter on a fourth-down play that would have given OU the ball either way. Had it been a different play call, the Seminoles likely would have scored on the drive. Oklahoma defensive back Billy Bowman was credited with the interception. But, the play resulted in lost yardage as the Sooners started the next drive a few yards back of where the ball could have been placed.

FSU took control of the game in the fourth quarter with two touchdowns. Ward tied the game at 25 with 11:05 left on a 38-yard run. Then on their next possession, Travis led the Garnet and Gold down the field and capped it off with a 17-yard touchdown pass to tight end Markeston Douglas. The drive that gave the Seminoles a 32-25 lead ended in a trick play that saw offensive lineman Darius Washington pose as a receiver to trick the Sooners.

If there is one bright spot to take away from the offense, it is that Travis can be a star in the pocket when given ample time to find open receivers. While the offense played solid, the defense held Oklahoma to a three-and-out on its first two possessions in the third quarter. Jared Verse and Jammie Robinson made plays all 0ver the field.

Sooners Turnaround From Regular Season

Sure, the Sooners finished the regular season 6-6 in year one under Venables. But in the Cheez-It Bowl, the program proved that they still belong among the top teams in the Big 12. Gabriel picked up two huge gains that totaled 25 yards. Then, he found Farooq for 29 yards that set up the game-tying touchdown. Jovantae Barnes found open grass and tied the game at 32 with 3:37 left.

This game showed that the Sooners have the ability to compete with any top-15-ranked team in the country. The Cheez-It Bowl provided Oklahoma with a phenomenal opponent in Florida State. The Sooners took the game down to the wire despite being without running back Eric Gray. In his absence, Barnes and Gavin Sawchuck combined for over 200 rushing yards and two scores.

On the final defensive possession, the Sooners had trouble containing Florida State’s offense. The Sooners allowed a 58-yard pass that set up a 32-yard field goal from Seminoles kicker Fitzgerald. With 55 seconds left, Gabriel and the Oklahoma offense suffered a tough false start penalty with 28 seconds remaining that pushed the unit back. Gabriel was ultimately sacked on the final play as OU finishes the season 6-7. With the 35-32 victory, Florida State finishes with its first 10-win season since 2016.

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