TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Landry Jones' pass seemed like it would never come down.
Kenny Stills waited in the end zone for what must have felt like an eternity, then reached high for a touchdown that gave No. 1 Oklahoma the type of rugged road victory that teams need to win national championships.
Stills, playing for the first time this season after being suspended for the opener because of an offseason DUI arrest, grabbed a 37-yard scoring pass midway through the fourth quarter for the tiebreaking score, and Oklahoma's defense made the lead stand as the Sooners beat No. 5 Florida State 23-13 on Saturday night.
"We won ugly, but that's OK," said Jones, who came in 3-5 as a starter the past two seasons in true road games.
Javon Harris picked off two passes for the Sooners (2-0), who forced three turnovers and harassed both Florida State quarterbacks all night.
The Seminoles (2-1) played the final 20 minutes without starting quarterback E.J. Manuel, who left in the third with a left shoulder injury.
Backup Clint Trickett kept the Seminoles in it. He hooked up with freshman Rashad Greene for a 56-yard touchdown on a third-and-28 with 9:32 left in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 13.
But on the next possession, Jones went deep down the sideline to the 6-foot-1 Stills, who easily outleaped the 5-8 Greg Reid for the touchdown.
Trickett couldn't respond. On the next drive, he had a pass tipped at the line by Ronnell Lewis, and Harris came up with his second interception near midfield. Just like the first pick, Oklahoma turned it into a field goal, this one from 31 yards out by Jimmy Stevens.
"All of a sudden the crowd's on you, they tie it up at home," said OU coach Bob Stoops, who shared a hug with his brother, Mark, the Florida State defensive coordinator, after the game. "We come back ... with the big drive, defense gets the turnover, we eat up the clock and get a field goal. I'm really proud of 'em. Our kids really answered the bell when they had to."
Jones finished 18 for 27 for 199 yards with two interceptions, though he did become the school's career passing leader, moving past Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford.
"All great games come down to two or three plays," second-year Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "They made plays; we didn't."
A rematch of a lopsided 47-17 Oklahoma victory in Norman last season, this was more reminiscent of the most important game these two heavyweight programs have played. The Sooners won their last national championship in 2000 by beating the Seminoles 13-2 in the Orange Bowl.
The Sooners scored a touchdown on their first possession and one of the most potent offenses in the country didn't find the end zone again until the fourth quarter. Florida State looked as if it would never get there.
Then Greene's touchdown sent most of the record crowd of 84,392 at Doak Campbell Stadium into hysterics. Like Stills, he went high in traffic to come down with Trickett's pass then broke free from the pack and raced for the score.
"It was just loud, I couldn't hear anything, especially down there when we were in their student section," Jones said. "I called some plays six or seven times, and I still don't think the guys heard me."
Florida State showed it's worthy of again being considered a national title contender, a title the Seminoles held for 14 years under Hall of Fame coach Bobby Bowden, but relinquished in the 2000s.
Fisher's Seminoles aren't quite all the way back, but they are getting there.
Trickett, who was sacked five times, was 7 for 15 for 134 yards for Florida State, which had no running game beyond Manuel's 49 yards.
Oklahoma seemed to pick up right where it left off last year in Norman on the first drive of the game, zipping down field with little resistance for an 80-yard drive that ended with Jones' 1-yard touchdown sneak.
Dustin Hopkins booted a 53-yard field goal to make it 7-3 with 2:42 left in the first.
Turnovers, penalties and defense dominated the rest of the way.
Manuel made some nifty plays on the run, jumping over one of his lineman on the way to a 12-yard gain in the second quarter. But the junior also was intercepted twice in Oklahoma territory. The first was on a ball batted into the air behind the line and grabbed by linebacker Tom Wort.
The second came late in the half when Harris grabbed a high throw and returned it 69 yards to the Florida State 3 with 1:19 left in the quarter.
But for the second time in the half, the Sooners got inside the 5 and settled for a field goal. After a penalty pushed OU back, Stevens kicked a 29-yarder to make it 13-3 as time expired in the half.
Florida State's best shot to get in the end zone in the first half came when Manuel found Kenny Shaw deep down the middle inside the 5, but the receiver was sandwiched by Wort and Harris, taking a double-helmet shot, and the ball came out. The Sooners were flagged 15 yards for the hit and Shaw lay motionless on the turf for several minutes. He was carted off, conscious and moving his arms, and taken to the hospital for X-rays. He later returned to the sideline in the fourth quarter.
The Sooners' defense got a boost with the return of star linebacker Travis Lewis, who came back earlier than expected from a broken left toe to start against Florida State.Comment on this story
With 5:42 left in the third quarter, Manuel was swarmed under by Oklahoma on a third-and-2 play that never had a chance and the quarterback came off the field wincing, holding his left arm close to his body. He went to the locker room to have his shoulder examined, and Trickett took over the offense after Lamarcus Joyner intercepted a deep ball by Jones.
With no running game to help him, Trickett, a redshirt freshman and the son of Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett, led the Seminoles to Hopkins' 46-yard field goal to make it 13-6 with 53 seconds left in the third.