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Rematch big for (5) FSU vs. (1) Okla.

September 13, 2011
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

TALLAHASSEE (AP) - Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher is hoping that one bad experience might lead to a good one when his fifth-ranked Seminoles host top-ranked Oklahoma Saturday.

It's been 53 weeks since Oklahoma whipped the Seminoles 47-17 on Sept. 11, 2010 in what was just Fisher's second game as a head coach.

If nothing else, Saturday's marquee game will show just how far Florida State (2-0) has progressed since.

"It'll be a measuring stick," Fisher said. "It's not the season, but it can be a great building block."

Fisher said his coaches and players have matured since their nightmare in Norman and the experience provided a lesson on what it takes to win big games.

"Hopefully, our team has grown and we've gotten better," Fisher said Monday.

"We know our players better, they know us better," he said. "They know our scheme better."

It's the first real test of the season for the Seminoles, who have outscored two inferior opponents by a combined 96-10. The same can be said for Oklahoma which opened its season with a 47-14 win over Tulsa on Sept. 3.

"They blew us out last year," said quarterback E.J. Manuel, who replaced a struggling Christian Ponder in the second half of last year's game. "They played great. Last year was their year."

Oklahoma (1-0) had an open date Saturday and Sooners' coach Bob Stoops gave his players a three-day weekend to relax while his coaches were most likely studying up on Florida State.

Florida State's coaches, meanwhile, are tinkering with the offensive line in an effort to get the running game untracked.

Center Jacob Fahrenkrug and guard Bryan Stork swapped positions midway through last Saturday's 62-10 rout of Charleston Southern.

"It's a work in progress," Fisher conceded at his weekly Monday meeting with reporters. "We'll get better."

Freshman James Wilder Jr. leads the team in rushing with 76 yards and he did that in one quarter. Remove Wilder and receiver Bert Reed's 35-yard gain on a reverse out of the team's statistics and Florida State is averaging 2.4 yards a carry despite playing overmatched opponents.

Jermaine Thomas, who had 58 yards on 11 carries in last year's Oklahoma game, has had just four carries all season despite being healthy.

Manuel is counting on the home crowd to make a difference. The game is a sellout.

"I think our fans will make it very loud for those guys," Manuel said Monday. "Hopefully it'll rattle them a little bit."

Fisher knows there'll be plenty of distractions this week for what has shaped up as arguably the biggest nonconference game here against an out-of-state opponent since Pittsburgh with quarterback Dan Marino visited in the early 1980s.

Fisher expects to get safety Nick Moody back from an injury, but said wide receiver Willie Haulstead remains day-to-day dealing with the effects on a concussion suffered in practice last month.

Rainey showing worth: This time last year, Chris Rainey made a huge mistake. It cost the Florida running back five games, tarnished his reputation and hampered the Gators. He was arrested on an aggravated stalking charge for allegedly sending a threatening text message to a former girlfriend, spent a night in jail and was kicked off the team the next day.

A month later, the Gators gave him a second chance.

Rainey has proven to be worthy of it. Coach Will Muschamp said Rainey has done everything asked of him off the field and in the community. On the field, his contribution has been obvious.

Rainey is the only player in the nation to lead his team in rushing and receiving after two weeks. He has 198 yards rushing, 110 yards receiving and has scored four touchdowns for the 16th-ranked Gators (2-0).

In the opener, a 41-3 win over Florida Atlantic, Rainey became the first player in school history to score touchdowns rushing, receiving and on a return in the same game. He finished with 146 total yards and said afterward that offensive coordinator Charlie Weis only used six plays.

Against UAB on Saturday, he carried 16 times for 119 yards and a score. He caught three passes for 43 yards.

His numbers could have been even better, but he had a 32-yard TD run called back because of a holding penalty and another long run negated.



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