Sooners keep explosive FSU offense off the board
Updated: Thursday January 04, 2001 5:17 AM
MIAMI (AP) -- Torrance Marshall, Rocky Calmus and the rest of Oklahoma's defenders never doubted themselves -- even if almost everyone else did.
In a dominant display, the No. 1 Sooners frustrated Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke and the top offense in the country, beating Florida State 13-2 in the Orange Bowl on Wednesday night to take the national championship.
Only a bad snap over punter Jeff Ferguson's head in the final minute, which resulted in a safety, prevented Oklahoma from handing the third-ranked Seminoles their first shutout since 1988.
"I think we had confidence right from the get-go, right when we found out who we were going to play," co-defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. "We just did a variety of things."
As expected, the Seminoles came out throwing. And when Weinke hit Atrews Bell for a 35-yard completion on the first play of the game, Florida State fans started shouting and the Seminoles' band began blaring the school's famous war chant.
It would be the last time all night they would be so loud.
By the time Ontei Jones picked off Weinke's pass in the end zone with 16 seconds left, it was all over and the Sooners' band had struck up several choruses of "Oklahoma."
Marshall wound up as the Orange Bowl MVP after making six tackles and coming up with an interception.
"Everybody doubted us all year, but this is a great group of football players here," he said.
"It was a national championship game," he said. "You either go home with a piece of jewelry or you go home sad. Everyone wanted to go home with some jewelry."
Marshall even had a few words for Weinke before kickoff.
"I tried to intimidate from the coin toss. I told Chris Weinke that he stole my boy's trophy," Marshall, referring to Heisman runner-up Josh Heupel of Oklahoma.
Said Weinke: "We couldn't seem to click or get on a roll."
Calmus made a key play, forcing Weinke to fumble near his own 20 midway through the fourth quarter. Roy Williams recovered for the Sooners and they quickly scored a touchdown that made it 13-0.
"Great preparation, great game plan, great DBs," said Calmus, an All-American linebacker. "We just had to get into our comfort zone and relax. We knew it would be a defensive game."
Earlier in the quarter, Derrick Strait batted down Weinke's fourth-down pass deep in Sooners' territory when it was 6-0.
"We basically expected it. We didn't expect to do what we did, but we expected to win," Strait said.
A perfect defensive effort for the only perfect team in the nation. And it was done against a team averaging more than 42 points and was tops in the country with 549 yards per game.
"We simply could get nothing going offensively," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said. "They did a great job of confusing us defensively."
Calmus and Marshall roved all over the field from their linebacker spots to shut down the Seminoles. The secondary, led by Williams, stopped any chance Weinke had to throw deep while the defensive line more than held its own against Florida State's front wall.
Weinke finished 25-for-51 and threw two interceptions. Star running back Travis Minor was reduced to 20 yards on 13 carries.
In all, a total of 301 yards for the Seminoles. They were minus their top receiver, All-American Snoop Minnis, who was academically ineligible.
"I was frustrated, Chris was frustrated. They did a good job frustrating all of us," Florida State offensive coordinator Mark Richt said.
Florida State has not been blanked since Miami beat them 31-0 in the 1988 season opener. Though the Seminoles avoided that embarrassment, the offense did nothing in a loss that cost them a share of their second straight national championship.
Besides, to Sooners coach Bob Stoops, those late two points did nothing to diminish what his team accomplished.
"Are you kidding me?" he said. "Our defense, everyone recognizes, still had a shutout."
Strait, though, wanted to see a "0" on the scoreboard.
"Yeah I was disappointed, but you can't be choosy. You have to take what you get," he said.