When: Nov. 24, 2001
Where: Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman
Oklahoman headline: COWBOY MAGIC
WHY IT TOPS THE LIST
There isn’t any way this loss could’ve been worse for Oklahoma. With Nebraska’s stunning loss a few days earlier to Colorado, Oklahoma was set up really nicely for a shot to repeat as Big 12 and national champion.
If the Sooners could just get past the 3-7 Cowboys and then beat Colorado in the Big 12 championship game — and hope for a Florida loss somewhere along the way — OU could’ve possibly earned a Rose Bowl berth to defend its national championship against No. 1 Miami.
But Oklahoma State, under first-year coach Les Miles, treated this game like its bowl game, even though it was guaranteed its 12th losing season in its previous 13. After a scoreless first quarter, Quentin Griffin ran for an 8-yard touchdown to put the Sooners up 7-0. OSU’s Luke Phillips was good for two field goals, and OU’s Tim Duncan one, before halftime for a 10-6 Oklahoma lead at the break.
True freshman quarterback Josh Fields entered the game for the Cowboys in the first quarter and, three quarters later, entered Oklahoma State lore. He completed all five passes on a 65-yard, game-winning drive in the fourth quarter; one of the completions was on third down, when T.D. Bryant took the ball from Sooner star Roy Williams and ended up with a 31-yard gain to the OU 14. Then, Fields found Rashaun Woods, who battled and beat Derrick Strait for the ball, with 1:29 left for the game-winning touchdown.
The win was the clear beginning of Oklahoma State’s journey from struggling program to national power; starting with the next season, OSU has qualified for a bowl game in nine of the last 10 seasons under Miles and Mike Gundy. And last season, of course, OSU won the Big 12 championship and the Fiesta Bowl.
Back in November 2001, though, OSU was thrilled to just beat its in-state rival and ruin its BCS hopes.
Had OU been able to win — and then beat Colorado in the Big 12 title game — it’s a fact that the Sooners would’ve been ranked No. 2 in the final BCS standings and played Miami for the national title. No. 2 Florida lost in its regular-season finale to Tennessee, which then moved into the No. 2 spot and fell to LSU in the SEC title game.
After Colorado topped No. 3 Texas in the Big 12 championship, it was, shockingly, Nebraska that re-emerged as the second-ranked team and became Miami’s Rose Bowl opponent.
The truth is, Oklahoma had very little offense at all that season, so a win over Colorado would’ve been tough, and a win over Miami, which was unbelieveably talented, would have been just about impossible.
So maybe the Cowboys were just doing OU a favor by sparing the defending national champion what would’ve almost certainly been a loss — and likely an embarrassing one — in their attempt to defend the 2000 title.
On second thought, Oklahoma State embarrassed the Sooners plenty with the shocking win in Norman. Then, for their encore, the Cowboys stunned the Sooners again the next year in Stillwater.
Here is John Rohde’s column from the game:
OU offense too often ineffective
NORMAN — Name one college football team that’s won a national title without an offense.
Oklahoma’s quest to become the first ended Saturday on Owen Field.
A 16-13 loss to unranked, but unwavering, Oklahoma State delivered a cold dose of reality to the No. 4-ranked Sooners: It’s darn-near impossible to win it all with half a team.
In case you haven’t noticed, the defending national champs can only defend.
All season long, OU has been entangled in a gutwrenching web of living by the defense and dying by the offense.
Live by the sword, die by the bored.
The Sooners’ offense attacked Bedlam with boredom.
Their offense once again was mediocre, and mediocrity doesn’t win national titles.
It’s not a healthy situation when your best chance of scoring is when your defense is on the field.
For the past month, OU coach Bob Stoops said he chuckled at criticism of his offense.
He wasn’t chuckling Saturday after his team managed 220 yards against a defense that had given up nearly half-a-thousand yards per game (477.7) in its previous six outings.
The Sooners’ offensive woes have been by committee. Everyone has contributed – the quarterbacks, the offensive line, the receivers and, yes, the coaches.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know, defense wins championships.
And when your defense is as good as OU’s, there’s no need to take chances on offense. Play it conservative and score enough points to win.
The Sooners couldn’t score enough against OSU and probably wouldn’t have been able to score enough points at Texas Stadium, either.
Saturday’s loss simply expedited the inevitable for OU.
The biggest upset in Bedlam history led to bedlam on Sixth Street in Austin and Elm Street in Stillwater. Both places already knew how to party.
Texas will represent the Big 12 South at Texas Stadium. The Longhorns now control OU’s postseason destiny. Who’d a thunk that would have been the case?
The instant the OU-OSU game ended, cell phone service in Norman went into overload.
Those lucky enough to make a connection were able to do their best Jack Buck impersonation from his 1988 World Series call of Kirk Gibson’s crippled home run.
“I don’t believe what I just saw.”
Even if the Sooners (27-point favorites) had survived OSU, who’s to say they would have survived Colorado, a schizophrenic team that has underachieved for years.
When OU trailed by three with 1:36 left and was at its own 7-yard line Saturday, there wasn’t a soul among the 75,573 who truly believed the Sooners were going to move the ball into field goal range.
No one on the OU sideline believed it, and certainly no one on the Cowboys’ sideline believed it.
Those on the Sooners’ offense were struggling. You could see it in their body language. You could hear in it their stunned silence.
After last week’s 31-10 victory over Texas Tech, Stoops threw out some per-game averages (380 yards and 34 points) to prove his team’s offense was potent.
Some other numbers to ponder:
* Baylor, which has lost 29 straight conference games, gained 517 yards against OSU. OU had zero rushing yards against the Cowboys on Saturday.
(Remember, this year’s OSU team became the only defense in Division I-A history to surrender a 33-yard, two-point conversion.)
* San Jose State, which was 1-5 at the time, gained 746 yards against Tulsa. Thanks to a second-half surge, the Sooners managed 541 yards against the Golden Hurricane, arguably the worst team in Division I-A.
* CU gained 582 yards in its 62-36 drought of BCS No. 1 Nebraska on Friday, which included 380 yards rushing. OU gained 339 total yards in its 20-10 loss to Nebraska.
All defense and no offense made the Sooners a lame-duck champion.
That is not how conference championships are won.
That is not how national championships are won.
OU just proved it.