Oklahoma, has won Orange Bowls in four decades, so its 247 victory over Florida State tonight was simply another trophy to add to the ones they won here in '54, '56, '58, '59, '68, '76 and '79.
For the Sooners, it is the Norman (Okla.) norm for Billy Sims to run for 164 yards, for quarterback J. C. Watts to scamper for 139 more and for their mighty wishbone to grind out 411 yards on the ground.
And, it is commonplace for Coach Barry Switzer, now 73-7-2 at Oklahoma, to watch his team clutch a game with a 99-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, then say, "We compleltely dominated the game defensively."
"Our only problem was that we had too much good field position," he said sarcastically. "We had to have poor field position to move the ball. Every time we had good field position we fumbled or made a mistake."
The Oklahomas of this world are slightly spoiled. It isn't enough for them to snap Florida State's 15-game winning streak or hold the Seminoles' heralded passing game to a pathetic 100 yards. Oklahomas find it no surpirse that their own Bud Hebert, with three interceptions, caught more Florida State passes than any FSU receiver.
But it was mostly different tonight for the Seminoles, the previously unbeaten prides of Tallahassee who really thought that this was the night that their program joined the big boys.
The Seminoles know what the Statistics don't say and what Oklahoma will never admit: Florida State almost won this Orange Bowl, and might have won it big.
"You know who almost won this game?" said FSU All-American Ron Simmons. "Us, that's who.
"But this game is a mystery to me, and I play it. It can change so fast. One minute we were the boss and the next minute we were dead and never came back to life."
In the first minute of the second quarter, Florida State led, 7-0, and had the ball on Oklahoma's two-yard line with the wildly partisan Florida crowd of 66,714 (76,683 paid) roaring for the kill.
"Aw, man, we had it going so good," said red-haired Huck Finntype quarterback Jimmy Jordan. "We look it right down there and scored (on a 74-yard drive), then we took it right down there and were knockin' again."
"That's when we had a chance to win," RSU Coach Bobby Bowden said. "They might have thought we were a whole lot better than them if we'd gone that last two yards.
"I was almost sure we'd win I thought they'd be overconfident and bored and we'd really stick it to them. Beat them good. And, yeah, that's kind of the way it was going.
"But then everything changed in just a minute. After that we weren't in it at all. They saw we wouldn't take the game when they were giving it to us.
"So, then they laid the wood to us."
With 13 minutes left in the half, FSU was on the verge of leading 14-0. Just 2:15 later, Oklahoma was ahead, 14-7, and anyone with football eyes knew FsuY was a beaten and disprited team, one which had commited suicide.
FSU's unraveling was part bad management, part bad luck and part bad execution. First, one third down and goal at the two, the Seminoles were penalized five yards for too much time -- an inexousable snafu that hits a team like a body blow.
Then came the one truly significant play of the night. Jordan flicked a short pass to Hardis Johnson, who grabbed the ball, ran laterally, spun when hit by a takler, then lunged and tried to stick the ball across the goal line.
As he laid it down, the ball rolled free. FSU recovered.
The play could have been ruled a touchdown, a dead ball at the six-inch line (with FSU facing fourth down and inches) or a fumble recovered by FSU at the five.
The one thing it could not be ruled was an incomplete pass. But that's what the refs called it.
Johnson did not know about the call until after the game and even then, refused to believe it. "I ran, spun. I did everything. I had the ball for seconds. Oh well, that's the breaks. The refs don't beat you."
No, not tonight. On the next play, Florida State took a giant step toward beating itself. Third-string quarterback Rick Stockwell fumbled a decent center snap and what looked like a chip-shot field goal for a 10-0 lead was suddenly a zero.
"We never did anything after that," Jonhson said.
"If we'd just kept it together when we had it, we'd have darn sure beat the hell out of them," defensive back Mike Smith said. "I know I shouldn't say that."
"You could feel it, "There goes the game,'" Simmons said, "Oklahoma's not a bunch of 900-pound gorillas like everybody says, but they're too good to make mistakes against."
The Sooners came to collect like death and taxes. On the first play after the botched field goal, Sims rambled 25 yards. Three plays later, Watts sneaked through a crack on third and 15 and sprinted 61 yards untouched to score.
The game was tied, 7-7, and the game was over.
On the first play after the ensuing kickoff, Jordan hummed a pass into double coverage, Hebert intercepted and returned, it 25 yards to the Seminole 10-yard line. "I should have thrown the ball into the stands," Jordan said.
On the next Sooner play (after a five-yard penalty), Stanley Wilson broke sickly FSU tackles and swept five yards for a 14-7 Oklahoma lead. The scenarlo was decades old. Give the Sooners a nibble and they'll eat your arm.
Forgotten was FSU's first drive, or its blocked punt four plays later, or its lighting drive to the Sooner two.
Now, it was Oklahoma sacking the passer, Oklahoma pressuring the punter into a 14-yard kick, and Oklahoma grinding the bone from the FSU 24 to the seven to set up a 24-yard Mike Keeling field goal and a 17-7 lead which held the next 31 minutes.
One vision of damnation might be for a man to be forced to watch a wishbone team with a 10-point lead for the rest of eternity. Option left, option right, ball control, punt, yawn.
FSU's will was broken. Even when Oklahoma fumbled three times within four possessions in the second half, the Seminoles gave it right back. Jordan was bad -- six for 16 for 76 yards. But his tandem quarterback and lifelong friend, Wally Woodham, who entered in relief, was worse -- two for 11 with two interceptions.
For Oklahoma, now 11-1 and hoping to move up from fifth in the polis, this night produced familiar emotions.
Sims, playing in his fourth Orange Bowl, ended his college career on the proper note: he scored a touchdown on his final play. With 1:58 left, Watts ran 12 yards with an option, then pitched to Sims for the final 22 yards of a 34-yard touchdown that ended a drive from the OU one.
"Come to think of it, that 99-yard drive was a pretty good symbol of Oklahoma football," Bowden said.
Switzer could hardly pretend to profound emotions, just pleasure at an annual job well completed. "We were in such control defensively by halftime," he said, "that I asked my defensive coaches if we should elect to kick off in the second half instead, of receive."
For Florida State, a welter of emotions competed for control. "One sour note in a year full of sweet ones," Smith said. "I'll do a lot of rear kicking to myself when I watch the films," Bowden said.