Worst losses of the Bob Stoops era: No. 1, Oklahoma State 16, Oklahoma 13 (2001)
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.
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