NORMAN, Okla. — Florida State saw Saturday's marquee matchup against Oklahoma as an opportunity to prove it was well on the road back toward national relevance.
Instead, it showed that road is far longer than imagined.
And it's a toll road, at that.
The No. 10 Sooners dominated the No. 17 Seminoles, cruising to a 47-17 win before a sellout crowd of 85,360 at Memorial Stadium that extended their nation-leading home winning streak to 32.
"It's very difficult to swallow," said FSU senior quarterback Christian Ponder, who could have stamped himself as one of the leading Heisman Trophy candidates with a stellar and winning performance but instead struggled mightily.
"This isn't what we were expecting at all. We had a great week of practice and thought we were prepared. Obviously, we've got to do a little more."
Maybe a lot more.
Had the Seminoles (1-1) not scored a touchdown on the game's final play, the margin of defeat would have been their largest since 39 at Florida in 1983. As it is, it's the most lopsided loss since 45-12 at Florida in 2007.
"I just think they had more heart than we did on the field," FSU redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Everett Dawkins said. "That's the only thing I can say about it.
"They just had more heart than we did."
But then the Sooners (2-0) had something to prove after they played inconsistently on both sides of the ball in last week's hard-fought 31-24 win against visiting Utah State.
They proved it.
Especially in the first half, when they jumped out to a 34-7 lead behind the play of sophomore quarterback Landry Jones, who completed fewer than half of his passes a week ago.
He led his team to touchdowns on its first four possessions, hitting 22 of 28 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns in the half overall.
Only Sam Bradford, in 2007 against North Texas, has thrown for more yards in a half in school history.
"They just got momentum in the football game," FSU first-year coach Jimbo Fisher said.
Meanwhile, after a strong opening drive for a touchdown, the Seminoles veteran offense looked befuddled against a defense that should have looked awfully familiar given that FSU's defensive coordinator, Mark Stoops, learned from his older brother, Oklahoma coach Bob.
"The first drive, everybody was on the right page and playing well. And then one mistake happened after another, and it just snowballed," said Ponder, who was 11-of-28 for 113 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns.
"I take a lot of blame for that. I made a lot of mistakes out there and put my team in a bad position to not score points. I really take it as my fault."
How bad did it get for the Seminoles in the half?
After running back DeMarco Murray scored his second touchdown (both 1-yard runs), the Oklahoma fans began a mocking Seminole chop chant. FSU's 27-point halftime deficit was its largest since Florida led 28-0 in 1985.
And it didn't get any better in the second half.
"It was a growing experience. I can really say that. It really was a growing experience for a lot of young guys and older guys on this team," FSU redshirt junior receiver Bert Reed said. "We've got to respond better the next time."
"It's not the Super Bowl," Fisher added. "Whether we won it (or not), we still have to play BYU (next week). We didn't gain all our goals if we had won this football game. We definitely wanted to win it, don't get me wrong. We wanted to play well, but we have to fix what we've got, move on. … It was one football game.
"And we found out where we are, and we found out we've got a lot of work to do in a few areas."
Brian Landman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3347. Check out his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/seminoles.