Best wins of the Bob Stoops era: No. 1, OU 13, Fla. State 2 (2001 Orange Bowl)
When: Jan. 3, 2001
Where: Pro Player Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla.
Oklahoman headline: A RETURN TO GLORY
WHY IT TOPS THE LIST
Championships are why the game is played; under Bob Stoops, the Sooners have won lots of conference, division and bowl championships, but they’ve only achieved the ultimate goal this one time.
The 2001 Orange Bowl, as many BCS title games have, was filled with pre-game controversy. One-loss Miami was ranked No. 3 in the BCS standings, but it had handed Florida State its only loss of the season. Despite being No. 3 in both human polls, the Seminoles got the BCS nod.
The Sooners, noted for their prolific offense through the month of October 2000, had to rely on defense in the Orange Bowl against Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke and Florida State, which entered the game averaging nearly 43 points and 549 yards a game, but managed 2 and 301, respectively, against OU on this January night.
Florida State entered the game a 10-point favorite over Oklahoma, and very few in the national media gave the Sooners much of a chance against the mighty Seminoles, who, with this appearance, had played in the first three BCS championship games.
And after the Seminoles’ first offensive play, it looked like OU’s skeptics might be right: Weinke hit Atrews Bell for a 35-yard completion. But that was really the extent of FSU’s big plays that night.
Weinke, without suspended All-American receiver Snoop Minnis, finished 25-of-51 for 274 yards, with two interceptions.
OU quarterback Josh Heupel, the Heisman runner-up, completed 25 of 39 passes for 214 yards and one interception. The Sooner offense as a whole didn’t produce many stats, totalling just 270 total yards, but still managed to hold onto possession of the ball for about 13 minutes more than FSU.
Oklahoma held a 6-0 lead until midway through the fourth quarter, when Weinke was scrambling toward a first down and linebacker Rocky Calmus forced a fumble, recovered by Roy Williams. Two plays later, Quentin Griffin scored on a 10-yard run.
Florida State scored its only points with 55 seconds left, when Ben Panter’s snap flew over punter Jeff Ferguson’s head. The Seminoles had 27 rushing yards and converted just 1 of its 15 third-down attempts.
Senior linebacker Torrance Marshall was named the game’s MVP with six tackles and a clutch interception in the first quarter. But his most memorable moment of the night came before the opening kickoff.
When team captains met for the pregame coin toss, Marshall told Weinke, “I’m here to get my boy’s (Heupel’s) Heisman Trophy back.”
Marshall wasn’t actually able to steal the Heisman from Weinke, but he did help Heupel earn another trophy. It was one much more important to the Heupel, now the Sooners’ offensive coordinator, and OU’s program as a whole.
Before Bob Stoops arrived in 1999, the Sooners had just completed a third consecutive losing season. But here, two years later, OU sat atop college football for the first time since 1985.
Since this night, Stoops’ Sooners have racked up accolades and wins over ranked opponents. They’ve won six more bowl games and seven more Big 12 championships. Two of Stoops’ players have won Heisman Trophies, and many more have been All-Americans.
But in three chances since Jan. 3, 2001, Stoops hasn’t been able to earn this win.
The 2001 Orange Bowl is the one victory he’s failed to duplicate for the past 10 seasons, making it — without question — the No. 1 win of the Bob Stoops era.
Here is Berry Tramel’s column from the game:
Don’t label this an upset; best team prevailed
MIAMI — Noted thespian Denzel Washington flipped the pre-game coin, which is only fitting.
For Oklahoma Sooner fans should hold dear to their heart and safely tuck into the corners of their minds the lads who staged this improbable revival. You should most definitely remember these titans.
Remember Torrance Marshall and Josh Heupel. Rocky Calmus and Frank Romero. Roy Williams and Andre Woolfolk. And their cohorts by the score.
They achieved something stunning and wondrous and historic. They went 13-0, won OU’s seventh national championship and turned college football on its ear.
“All year we saw it coming,” said OU cornerback Michael Thompson.
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