Oklahoma football: Five things to know about OU’s Cheez-It Bowl matchup

TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: The Florida State Seminoles on offense against the Oklahoma Sooners at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 17, 2011 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: The Florida State Seminoles on offense against the Oklahoma Sooners at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 17, 2011 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

For the 56th time in the storied history of Oklahoma football, the Sooners will be making a postseason bowl appearance, headed to the Cheez-It Bowl to face 13th-ranked Florida State.

This will be Oklahoma’s 24th consecutive year going to a holiday bowl game, just two shy of the longest active streak in college football held by the Georgia Bulldogs.

Oklahoma goes into the 2022 Cheez-It Bowl matchup with a 6-6 season record, its lowest win total since finishing 5-6 in 1998, the year before Bob Stoops became the Sooners’ head coach. Florida State, meanwhile, ended the regular season with a 9-3 record, its best since going 10-3 under Jimbo Fisher in 2016.

The Sooners will be the fifth of seven Big 12 teams to take the field this holiday bowl season. The Cheez-It Bowl will be played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. The game will be televised by ESPN and streamed by fuboTV and is scheduled for a 4:30 p.m. CT kickoff.

This will be the eighth meeting between OU and Florida State. Four of the previous seven meetings have been in bowl games, the most notable of which was the 2000 BCS national championship game matching Heisman-winning quarterback Chris Weinke of Florida State and Heisman runner-up Josh Heupel of Oklahoma. The Sooners won 13-2 and captured their seventh national championship.

Oklahoma has a 6-1 overall record against Florida State, including six consecutive wins.

Five things to know about OU and Florida State and the 2022 Cheez-It Bowl:

Several Oklahoma players have opted out of the Cheez-It Bowl

At least four Oklahoma starters this season have decided not to play in the Sooners bowl game in preparation for the2023 NFL Draft. The players who have opted out of the bowl game include RB Eric Gray, OL Wanya Morris, DL Jalen Redmond, OL Anton Harrison. Seventeen Sooners, including former five-star WR prospect Theo Wease and reserve quarterback Nick Evers, have entered the transfer portal.

OU will have serious challenge stopping Florida State’s No. 13-ranked rushing offense

Oklahoma has had big difficulty all season stopping the run, and they will face arguably their most formidable rushing defense challenge of the season against Florida State in the Cheez-It Bowl. Florida State ranks first in the ACC and owns the 12th best rushing offense among teams at the FBS level, averaging 217.8 yards per game. Interestingly, the Seminoles rank one spot higher nationally than Oklahoma, which has averaged 216.6 rushing yards per game.

Carrying the run-game load for Florida State are a pair of running backs, Trey Benson and Treshaun Ward. Benson has rushed for 965 yards this season and Ward for 547.Both average over six yards per carry.

The Florida State offense will be facing an Oklahoma defense that ranks 109th out of 131 FBS teams, allowing nearly 190 rushing yards per game.

Speaking of running the football, Oklahoma will be without the services of its No. 1 running back, Eric Gray, for the bowl game. Gray accounted for 52 percent of the Sooners total rushing production this season.

Third-down stops have been an issue for Sooners in recent games; third down has been a strength for Florida State this season

The Sooner haven’t only had trouble converting third downs on offense in their last four games, bu also have been had trouble throughout the regular season getting stops on third down while on defense.

Florida State ranks No. 3 in the nation, converting 52 percent of its third-down attempts. The Sooners, meanwhile, rank 90th nationally, allowing opponents to successfully execute 40 percent of their third-down conversion tries.

OU hasn’t been all that proficient late in the season either converting third-down plays on offense. In its final three games of the regular season, Oklahoma converted just 9 of 43 third-down attempts (21 percent). And that spells trouble going up against a Florida State defense that holds opponents to a 34-percent third-down success rate, 26th-best in the country.

Cheez-It Bowl originated in 1990 as the Blockbuster Bowl

What is now the Cheez-It Bowl was founded as the Blockbuster Bowl and held in Miami. It sprung out of a desire to hold a second postseason bowl game in the Miami area in addition to the long-standing Orange Bowl game. The inaugural Blockbuster Bowl was in 1990 and featured No. 6 Florida State against No. 7 Penn State.

The game remained in Miami for a dozen years before moving to Orlando in 2001. During the time the game was played in Miami it was known as the Blockbuster Bowl (1990-1993), the Carquest Bowl (1994-1997), MicronPC Bowl (1998) and the MicronPC.com Bowl (199-2000).

In 2001 the venue was moved to Orlando, where it became the Tangerine Bowl from 2001 to 2003. From 2004 to 2011, the game was renamed the Champs Sports Bowl, and from 2012 to 2016 it became the Russell Athletic Bowl. Oklahoma played Clemson in the 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl. The Sooners lost that game 40-6.

From 2017 to 2019, it was known as the Camping World Bowl, and in 2020 it took on a new sponsor and it present name: the Cheez-It Bowl.

Bowl game will be a homecoming for Sooner QB Dillon Gabriel

The Cheez-It Bowl game represents a homecoming for Sooner quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who played for two-plus seasons at Central Florida (UCF) located in Orlando. While playing at UCF, Gabriel threw for over 4,000 yards and 70 touchdowns in 26 games.