EL PASO, Texas
— While Oklahoma was playing Stanford, Cameron Newton was signing his letter of intent to play for Auburn.
Perhaps the top junior-college quarterback in the country, who at one point was considering the Sooners, caught a glimpse of the Sun Bowl and thought, "Forget this!”
Landry Jones sure looked like OU’s quarterback of the future Thursday, leading the Sooners to a 31-27 win and effectively ending the quarterback derby of 2010.
Jones threw for three touchdowns and an OU-bowl record 418 yards, one shy of the Sun Bowl record set by Purdue’s Kyle Orton in 2001.
The redshirt freshman made only one mistake all day: a first-quarter interception in which Jones looked past open tight end James Hanna and tried to force the ball to Ryan Broyles. Safety Bo McNally returned the interception 55 yards to set up Stanford’s first touchdown.
But after that, Jones came back strong and gashed the Cardinal defensive backfield the rest of the way to finish with a career-high 30 completions.
Said coach Bob Stoops, "Landry, minus one play, had an outstanding day.”
It’s been quite a whirlwind season for Jones, who wasn’t counting on playing much this season. With the return of Heisman winner Sam Bradford, Jones’ time appeared to be a year away.
But in the season opener, Bradford went down with a shoulder sprain, thrusting Jones into the spotlight.
At times, Jones was brilliant, earning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors in wins over Tulsa and Kansas State.
Other times, away from home, Jones was average, at best.
But in El Paso, Jones overcame his greatest demon and proved he could shine away from Norman against a quality opponent.
With the run game stagnant behind a patchwork line, offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson put the game on Jones’ shoulders and called numerous pass plays out of four- and five-wide shotgun sets.
More times than not, Jones made the right read while peppering the ball around to receivers Broyles, Dejuan Miller, Jaz Reynolds and tight end Trent Ratterree, who all had big days.